In the beginning… for us:
August, 1854, Mr. Joseph M. L. Gardner, a teacher in Trinity Church Sunday School, Newark, who had been looking over the ground in East Newark, as this city was then called, resolved that he would establish a Sunday School here. Being young and active, and thoroughly imbued with a desire to extend his Master’s Kingdom, he went boldly into the work.
There were no public halls in the city in those days and Mr. Gardner was forced to look about for a suitable room in the house of one of the residents. This room was secured in the home of a Mrs. Lane at the corner of Warren and Fourths Streets. Here one Sunday morning, Mr. Gardner opened his school with 15 scholars.
Among other supporters of Mr. Gardner, were Miss Emmeline Macfarlane, sister of the wife of Rev. Matthew H. Henderson, rector of Trinity Church, the Misses Ellis, the late Judge Charles L. C. Gifford and a few members of Trinity. At this time the little church was known as St. Martins Episcopal Church.
The enthusiasm of the young man attracted the attention of the Misses Mary and Louisa Rutherford, who lived on the River Road (now Passaic Avenue) and were connected with Christ Church, Belleville. Through the influence of these good ladies, a bigger room was secured, and an impetus given the work through their liberal support in the subsequent erection of a building at the corner of Warren and Third Streets. The name was changed to Rutherford Memorial Episcopal Church. As Mr. Gardner was under age, the title to the property was taken in the name of his father, the late Joseph Gardner. Contributions were made by the Misses Rutherford and several members of Trinity Congregation, and on the Sunday the doors were open for worship, not a dollar of indebtedness lay on the building. The session of the school was held every Sunday morning at first, and later, in the afternoon. Usually a vesper service was held by Mr. Gardner at the close of the session. The school had a good library. Through the week a sewing circle met. An entertainment given in Oraton Hall, Newark, furnished the money for a fence around the Church.
Mr. Gardner’s conviction and dedication increased with the movement and he opened and conducted an evening school through the week. This school remained open for a period of three to four years with the invaluable assistance of Mr. Waldron the principal of the town school.
The first efforts of ecumenisms began when the Methodist Church was partially destroyed by fire and their pastor Rev. James R. Fitzgerald reached out to his good friend Mr. Gardner and by the latter’s invitation the little brown church was being used by two congregations. History would repeat itself in 2013 with the invitation of Christ Church to Sacred Heart ANCC to share our present space. This began as part of the friendship of Deacon Erik Soldwedel and Fr. Paul Gulya, ANCC.
On the 19th day of April 1863 the pastoral Aid Association of Trinity Church, Newark under the rectorship of Rev. John C. Eccleston, DD the school was reorganized as Trinity Episcopal Mission. In recognition of the hard work Mr. Gardner put forth this new mission church was given increased support from Trinity Newark with the assistance of the family of Corlandt Parker, Sr. Warden Trinity Newark.
On Sunday November 25th 1883 services were held in our present building which was situated on the corner of Fourth Street and Cleveland Avenue. The sermon that day was preached by the Rev. James Houston Eccleston, Rector of Trinity Church, Newark. His text was Mark 11:17. The Rev. Thomas G. Carver was the celebrant assisted by the Rev. B. M. Bradin. From the pulpit that Sunday morning Dr. Eccleston announced the name as Christ Church.
Five years later several parishioners travelled north on Fourth Street to Arlington New Jersey and with the assistance of Trinity Church, Newark established and founded a new mission church later to be known as Trinity Church Kearny.
One hundred twenty six years later both Christ Church and Trinity Church found themselves re-united as the changing demographics of Harrison and Kearny. Many Episcopalians having moved out of the area and with ever changing technologies namely motor vehicles neighborhood churches have decreased. Under the leadership of Rt. Rev. Mark M. Beckwith and the congregation leaders; Arthur Cawley, Jane Mahr, the late Shirley Becker, the late Carol Stec, Jose Torres and Sharon Giaquinto with the assistance of the Rev. Deacon Erik Soldwedel, the two congregations began discussion in 2012 on how they could work together. In June of 2014 the two congregations joined together in Harrison to chart a new course for the Episcopal Church in Western Hudson County.
Rev. Soldwedel felt called towards new things in late 2015. Saturday, the 24th of September, 2016 Rev. Richard R. Hogue Jr. the was ordained to the priesthood at All Saints Episcopal Parish in Hoboken, New Jersey, they formally exchanged leadership of Christ Church the next day. Rev Soldwedel and Rev. Richard had known each other for some time, as Rev. Soldwedel had recruited Richard to the Diocese of Newark in late 2010 through the NEWARK ACTS internship program. Richard discerned a call towards ordained ministry while in the Diocese of Newark over the following three years, and went to seminary at Church Divinity School of the Pacific, in Berkeley, California. Towards the end of his time there, Rev. Soldwedel once again recruited Richard, but this time in a call towards mission and ministry with the congregation of Christ Church, Harrison.