Parish History

Here we tell the story of the beginnings of our church and how we became what we are today. We invite you to become a part of the church today and a piece of its history tomorrow.

Over a century ago, a group of people began meeting at the at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Edmund Maples, who lived on Grove Street to form what would become the first Episcopal Church in the area. The mission was organized in March 1901 under the leadership of C. Thatcher Pfeiffer, then a student minister attending General Theological Seminary in New York City. That same year, at the home of Mr. and Mrs. George Rover, who lived on Old Boulevard in the section then known as Peetzburg (now a part of New Milford), the mission group obtained the use of a lecture room in the old public school and community hall on Kinderkamack Rd (then called Linden Ave). The first Episcopal service in Oradell was celebrated there on Easter Day 1901.

During the summer, the women of the mission group raised funds to buy the piece of land in the center of town next door to the new public school (now the old Borough Hall). A construction loan was obtained through Frederick Crum, a sea captain living in the neighboring town of River Edge. The corner stone of the present church was laid in November 1901. The church was completed in time to hold its first service on Easter Day 1902. The old bell from the community hall was placed in the belfry tower (a gift of the Bellis family), where it still rings every Sunday.

The first vicar of the church, the Rev. Charles S. Champlin, suggested that since the mission was organized nearest to the Feast of the Annunciation, the church be named in its honor.

In 1912, the first pipe organ was installed. It was pumped by hand, and during the winter sermons the pumper kept warm beside his own personal oil stove. He was paid 35 cents per Sunday. A new Baldwin electric organ was purchased and dedicated in 1948 to replace the dilapidated pipe organ. The organ was most recently replaced with an Allen electric organ, in 1996.

Additional land adjoining the rear of the church was purchased from Mr. Leopold Hague in 1920 for the rectory and parish hall sites. A building formerly used as a residence and drugstore by Dr. Frederick O. Blenckstone, located on Kinderkamack Road between Centre Street and Oradell Avenue, was then acquired as a rectory. This building was moved to the church property later that same year.

In the early 1920's, the parish hall was added to the rear of the church. In 1964 this area was enlarged and modernized to include a small stage and lounge.

Late in 1945, the last mortgage was finally paid off and symbolically "burned," and the mission became a fully self-supporting parish. In the mid 1950's, disaster struck and fire gutted the interior of the wooden church. While rebuilding, the parishioners also enlarged and modernized the church to its present size.

Clergy over the last 108 years

In addition to locum tenens and interim clergy, nineteen priests have served the Church of the Annunciation:

The Rev. C. Thatcher Pfeiffer 1901
The Rev. Charles S. Champlin 1901-1904
The Rev. L. S. Johnson 1904-1906
The Rev. John C. Fair 1906-1911
The Rev. William K. Berry, S.T.D. 1911-1918
The Rev. F. Sandeman DeMattos 1919-1922
The Rev. Lewis E. Wettling 1922-1928
The Rev. John A. Frampton 1928-1933
The Rev. F. Randall Williams 1933-1937
The Rev. Charles Stires 1937-1942
The Rev. Walter Welsh 1942-1949
The Rev. Herbert Lewis-Jones 1949-1966
The Rev. Craig Biddle, III 1966-1970
The Rev. Oscar A. Mockridge, III 1970-1971
The Rev. David R. Covell, Jr. 1972-1975
The Rev. James G. Callaway, Jr. 1975-1981
The Rev. George C. Allen II 1981-1999
The Rev. Kimberly A. Haag 2000-2003
The Rev. J. Barrington Bates 2007-2011
The Rev. Archie Palmer 2011-Present

From left to right: James G. Callaway, Jr; David R. Covell, Jr; Craig Biddle III; Herbert Lewis-Jones; Walter Welsh.

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