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  early churches of New Jersey

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Lebanon German Reformed Church

Lebanon, Hunterdon County
off Cherry Street
founded c. 1747, built 1854

Florence Methodist churchA map of 1765 shows a High Dutch Presbyterian Meetinghouse near the present site. A somewhat later deed conveys the property tt the "Calvinistic Congregation adjacent to the Round Valley of Lebanon." In 1746 the Church of Holland appointed a Swiss minister to visit America to look after the several Dutch Reformed Churches. In his journal he wrote:

On the third of July 1747, I received a very earnest letter from the congregations at Rockaway (Lebanon), Fox Hill (Tewksbury) and Amwell, in the region of the Raritan, distant about 70 miles from Philadelphia. They urge me with the strongest motives—yea, they pray me for God’s sake—to pay them a visit, that I may administer to them the Lord’s Supper, and by baptism incorporate their children with the church, who have already, during three or more years, remained without baptism. November the 13th of that year I undertook a journey to those congregations, and on the 14th came to Rockaway. Here I received twenty young persons into the church after they had made a profession of the faith, and on the following day, administered the Holy Supper in a small church to an attentive and reverent assembly.

The preaching had nearly always been in German until the end of the first decade of the 19th century, when the services were mainly in English. Original worship was in the German Reformed form. In time, the German Synod neglected several of the churches the area; some drifted to the Presbyterians but this one affiliated with the Dutch Reformed Church.
pews      In 1780 the congregation replaced the log building with a frame church. The church was incorporated in 1788, under a law passed by the New Jersey legislature in 1786, under the name of the “First High Dutch Reformed Congregation in the Township of Lebanon.” In 1796 the deed for the church was recorded in the name of the Round Valley Meeting House. In 1816 a new brick church was built just off Cherry Street, and it served the congregation until 1854 when a larger frame church was built near the site. Part of the foundation is apparently incorporated into the walls of the old burial ground. That church was struck by lightning in 1937 and burned, but most of the chapel (pictured above), the pulpit and the pews were saved.