HISTORIC “SANCTUARY ON THE GREEN” RESTORATION FOR CHURCH AND COMMUNITY USE
The Bloomfield Presbyterian Church on the Green has reopened our historic sanctuary in Bloomfield, NJ and we’re excited to offer our building as a local/regional center for the arts AND resume use of it for our ministries. Already the sanctuary is booked for theater productions, concerts, and lectures – but we need help to improve and preserve this uniquely beautiful facility.
With this GoFundMe Charity appeal, we seek to raise $100,000 to replace the aging roof, install a new light-weight interior ceiling, insulate the interior, and rehang the original chandeliers. This will ready the space for frequent, year-round use while also reducing our carbon footprint and lowering our energy costs.
We would love your help to reach our goal!
Constructed between 1797 and 1819, the sanctuary housed worship services and community functions continuously for over 200 years until it was closed in 2009 for structural reasons. Simply put, lateral movement was detected in the east wall of the sanctuary. The problem was faulty truss work from forty years prior. We took immediate action to stabilize the building with exterior supports. Then we commissioned a detailed set of restoration plans, but cost estimates far exceeded our means.
Everything changed in 2019. First, our structural engineer determined that despite appearances, the sanctuary was in fact entirely safe for use and occupancy. In consultation with town officials, we reopened our doors.
Meanwhile, a local theatre educator inquired about renting space for a production of “Godspell, Jr.” We learned of the emerging need in Bloomfield for a new home for the performing arts. We sensed a providential convergence between Bloomfield’s need and our resource. We applied for and received a variance from the Zoning Board permitting use of the sanctuary as a cultural facility.
We hosted “Godspell.” The people came. The pews filled up. From the opening strains of “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord,” to the final chorus, “Long Live God,” the kids in the production helped us to see a new future for this historic space!
A Grand Reopening Concert is now planned for Saturday, April 18, 2020, and will feature a host of local theatre, dance and musical groups as well as Broadway talent.
PROGRESS TO DATE
We’ve already received a treasure trove of donated theatrical lighting, with pro bono design and installation services by one of Broadway’s finest lighting professionals. Bloomfield College students gave their time scraping and preparing the interior walls for a fresh coat of paint. We sold our pipe organ to help pay for highest priority needs. Funds realized from the sale are not nearly enough, however, to do all that this glorious facility deserves.
FIVE REASONS TO CARE
1) Because you’re a history buff.
The church is named after General Joseph Bloomfield (1753-1823), who served in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War and became NJ's fourth governor. The sanctuary is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was recorded by the Historic American Buildings Survey in the 1930s. Historical figures associated with the church include composers and hymn writers: The Rev. George Duffield, Jr. (1818-1888), “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus,” William Batchelder Bradbury (1816-1868), “Just As I Am,” “Jesus Loves Me,” and the internationally acclaimed modernist composer Charles Ives (1874-1954). The church was a stop on the underground railroad.
2) Because you’re a Bloomfield High School Bengal.
Did you mark time during high school by the chiming of the church bells across the street? Did you hang out at the canteen and bowling alley in the church basement? Did you play basketball for the church league in our gym? Did you know that our church members give a special offering from our own pockets every year to fund a scholarship for a graduating BHS senior? We invite you and your fellow Bengals to offer what you can from your pockets to preserve and restore this town treasure for future Bengals and for all of Bloomfield.
3) Because you’re a performing artist or avid supporter of the arts.
Groups are already booking the sanctuary, in “as is” condition, for theatre, dance, musical performances and lectures. A benefit art show on the theme, “Calling All Angels,” will be held in the sanctuary on Sunday, April 26, 2020. Your support will help secure a home and a future for the performing arts in greater Bloomfield.
4) Because you love great architecture.
Mark Alan Hewitt, one of America’s foremost scholar-architects, considers the Church on the Green to be “one of the most beautiful churches on the Eastern Seaboard.” Hewitt writes, “Among the churches built by early Presbyterian congregations in America, the “Church on the Green” …stands out for its urbanistic significance and its architectural integrity.” The sanctuary houses turn-of-the-century stained glass windows in the style of LaFarge and Tiffany, as well as mouth blown antique glass windows painted in the traditional Trace and Matte technique. Any architectural treasure is costly to restore, preserve and maintain. We think you will agree that this one is worth every penny.
5) Because Jesus Loves You.
Did you ever sing, “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know”? William Batchelder Bradbury (1816-1868) composed and published this song—now translated into more languages than any other spiritual song ever—while he was a member of the Bloomfield church! If this melody has touched your heart in any way, we hope you will be moved to help restore the “Jesus Loves Me” Church for tomorrow’s children.
Your support will help preserve Bloomfield’s town treasure as a sacred space for spiritual renewal, and as a shared space for community engagement. Your support will help transform an underutilized facility of great beauty into a vibrant community hub that will anchor Bloomfield’s historic district for years to come. Learn more at http://bpcog.org/.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST
Please help spread the good word by sharing the link below on social media, or via email, and telling people why you support this project:
Your contribution is tax deductible.
Thank you from bottom of our hearts!