The authoritative source on
  early churches of New Jersey

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Saint George's Episcopal Chruch
Churchtown, Salem County

Sweden colonized the west bank of the Delaware River near what was to become Wilmington in the first half of the seventeenth century. Settlers soon moved across the river near Penns Neck, although they continued to attend religious services in the original settlement (Christiana).Eventually crossing the river was too arduous and the Swedish and nearby Finnish settlers organized a Lutheran church here in 1714. Their ancestors had witnessed the change from Swedish to Dutch to English government without any pressure to change their religion.
     Their initial church was a log structure, probably erected between 1714 and 1717. Services were conducted in Swedish, and then in Swedish and English until about 1769, when no Swedish-speaking minister could be found. In 1786 the Lutheran congregation, like the one in Swedesboro, switched to the Anglican denomination, and was incorporated as the Protestant Episcopal Church of Penns Neck. At that time, the Episcopal Church was trying to re-establish itself after the disrepute it had fallen into during the Revolution because of its close association with the Tories. The only choices in the area would have been the Calvinist-oriented Presbyterian or Baptist churches.
     The present structure was built in 1811, according to Jaquett, long after the Lutherans had yielded to the Anglican Church. The old log church was sold in 1808. The stone foundation appears to date to 1811, but by 1876 it was necessary to take the walls down to the top of the windows and rebuild. The double lancet windows are certainly part of the later plan, and I suspect the large rose window in the gable above the entrance is also new. The entry vestibule is more recent and the belfry was altered, probably about that time.




Copyright (c) 2001 Frank L. Greenagel