Leaders and Volunteers
The Congregation is blessed to have some amazing leaders, who serve locally and beyond. The Session of the church serves and guides the congregation in different areas of ministry. The current positions on Session are Administration, Clerk, Legal & Finance, Mission, Spiritual Growth, Worship, and Congregational Life. Members of the congregation have served the Presbytery of Elizabeth as representatives on committees and administrative commissions as well as moderators. Members have served as commissioners to Synod of the Northeast and General Assembly. One member served on General Assembly Council, the Board of Stony Point Center of the Presbyterian Church (USA), and has been assisting there as a volunteer with its financial management two days a week. One thing that Willow Grove does well is regular self-assessment by seeking to clarify our roles, work, and mission as a congregation. It is quite possible that the church will continue to strengthen the role of teams working in the church and may re-organize the teams to work in areas currently the responsibilities of our Elders. For many years, the Pastoral Committee has chosen not to have a separate board of ordained deacons. While a rotating class of ordained deacons is not required by PCUSA and will not begin at this time, re-evaluating the work of the elders and the way members support the elders and pastor is something that the Session and the Nominating Committee will continue to review. In 2019, after not operating for about five years, a Pastoral Team was reinstituted, and assists the Pastor on visitations, offering communion, and making phone calls to home-bound members.
The church building is on 1.1 acres of land, which is now surrounded on three sides by the golf course of the Shackamaxon Country Club, land that was formerly farms. The property is 205’ wide and varies from 182’ deep on the west and 209’ deep on the east. The church is opposite a residential area, and within 1/2 mile of the Southside soccer field of Scotch Plains, the Center for Hope Hospice & Palliative Care, and the Union Catholic High School campus. From time to time the soccer game crowds use the church’s parking lot for overflow parking, as does the neighboring Temple Sholom on their high holidays. Our beautiful sanctuary, inviting classrooms, multi-purpose rooms, air-conditioned Alexander Hall, and spacious Ryno Hall are normally used by the congregation and community groups seven days a week. The Church building includes the historic Willow Grove Church Old Stone Chapel, first built in 1887, which has a capacity of 88 people. The congregation is in the process of restoring and enhancing (e.g. air conditioning, new lighting) the Chapel, so that the congregation may use it for a smaller worship space, and the community may use it for other events. The Stone Chapel was constructed with field stones donated by area farmers on land donated by John Lambert, who owned the nearby grist and cider mill. The Chapel was then the home of a church-run nursery school for many years. The Chapel building is at the front end of the church, and faces the street, and is probably one of the most charming and also memorable parts of the building and grounds to us as well as to neighbors and people who pass by. The original bell, which is still used on Sunday mornings to call people to worship, was donated in 1887 by Dr. J. Ackerman Coles. One of the lovely elements of the historic chapel space is a stained-glass window, which the congregation has raised money to professionally restore. This restoration is nearly complete. While the congregation has worshiped on occasion in the chapel, we look forward to having a community celebration in the spring of 2023. Then the chapel will be available for weddings, memorials, concerts, and community events.