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PNJ to meet with Ewing Church board; offers to acquire church to preserve it

August 13, 2009

Preservation New Jersey President John D.S. Hatch and two additional representatives of the organization meet today with the Session of the First Presbyterian Church of Ewing to discuss PNJ’s recent offer to take ownership of the historic church building in order to preserve it.  (Only members of the congregation are allowed to attend the meeting.)  President Hatch’s letter making the offer stated:

On behalf of the Board of Directors of Preservation New Jersey, Inc., (PNJ) the statewide nonprofit historic preservation education and advocacy organization, I am writing to offer our organization as the potential recipient of ownership of the historic 1867 Sanctuary of the First Presbyterian Church of Ewing in order to relieve your congregation of the financial obligations of either rehabilitation or demolition of the building.

A stated portion of our mission, as reflected in PNJ’s 501c3 nonprofit charter, is to own or hold historic properties in order to preserve and protect them.  We believe, because of the broad level of public support in Ewing, in New Jersey and, indeed, across the country for the preservation of this landmark building, that our stewardship of the 1867 Sanctuary Building perfectly reflects that mission.  The financial obligations PNJ will assume can be met, we believe, in trust for those many, many people who have come forward and asked to help preserve the sanctuary.

PNJ’s proposal resulted from the group’s recognition of the broad publc support for preservation of the iconic “church in the bend of the road,” and the support of the Township, national organizations such as the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Partners for Sacred Places, the more than 600 donors to the recent fundraising drive to save the church and hundreds more potential donors who have recorded their love and support for the endangered landmark. A suggestion by a member of the Presbytery of New Brunswick’s Committee on Missions spurred the PNJ offer letter.

More here

To Keep up to date on PNJ’s efforts to preserve the Ewing Church,  follow blog entries tagged Ewing_Pres

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Anne McArthur permalink
    August 17, 2009 6:49 am

    I Don’t Want it and You Can’t Have It

    This is an open public letter to request the Presbytery of New Brunswick to reconsider its decision not to intervene in the decision of the Session of the Ewing Presbyterian Church to demolish its sanctuary.

    The Times article of August 11 stated the results of the Presbytery’s Committee of Ministry, which heard both sides of the debate and decided to let the demolition process continue. In the article, Stated Clerk – Rev. D. Paul La Montagne says that unless the session acted in bad faith, the body is free to decide the fate of its house of worship.

    Yesterday I learned that the Ewing Church has rejected an offer from Preservation New Jersey to purchase the sanctuary, stating that if it is purchased, they will no longer be able to worship there. The Church is moving forward with demolition and pews and other furnishings are being removed.

    Please consider the following:

    • The August 15 Times states that Preservation NJ (PNJ) had offered to let the church continue using the building once it was renovated and that the church, not PNJ, said future use by the church was not possible.
    • Once the building is demolished, it will be impossible to worship there, so it is illogical to give this as a reason for rejecting the purchase offer.
    • $250,000 has already been raised by supporters of the church; experienced structural engineers believe the work necessary to secure the building would be close to this amount.
    • Demolition costs are estimated at $100,000 up. If the Session is so concerned about cost, and that is the real reason behind demolition, how can they reject this offer to purchase and pay out additional money? Is this stewardship?

    Current public perception, right or wrong, is that the Session is prepared to demolish a building when they have the funds to repair it and the option of selling it. The Presbytery supports a decision process in which alternatives were not fully reviewed and in which the Ewing Church stated that the reason behind its decision to demolish the building is lack of funds, which is clearly not the case.

    Reverend La Montagne, do you still feel that the Session acted in good faith?

    The church is an irreplaceable landmark, and before razing it, I think the Session has an obligation to act in good faith. Since they have failed to do so, I call on the Presbytery to review the facts and encourage the Session to either repair the church, since they have the funds for the revised estimate, or sell it so that it can serve the community at large and continue to inspire passersby with its age, dignity, and beauty.

    Sincerely,
    Anne McArthur

    I serve as Vice Chair of the Ewing Township Historic Preservation Commission but I am writing as an individual.

    Anne McArthur
    9 Dixmont Avenue
    Ewing NJ 08618
    609 510-9120
    peteandanne@verizon.net

    • Lynne Foley permalink
      August 17, 2009 6:20 pm

      see my reply on your web page…

      Lynne Foley

  2. Lynne Foley permalink
    August 17, 2009 6:16 pm

    Stunning in arrogance…that no person outside of “the session” is allowed access to the true motivation here. As someone with no affiliation to this beautiful, majestic and peaceful corner of Ewing, this is absolutely appalling.

    If there is some real, true, legitimate reason to raze this building then come out with it!

    With each passing moment it looks more and more like this is someone with an ax to grind and/or an ego that is too large for any one building to house.

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  1. PNJ, community partners resume fundraising to save Ewing Church « PreserveNJ

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