Our History

The History of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer  

The first settlers in the northern section of Bergen County were Lutherans and Calvinists. Around 1732, a congregation of Lutherans in the village of Ramapough (what is now Mahwah), united with a Dutch Reformed congregation and worshipped in a small wood frame building. This building was later taken down and salvaged lumber was used to construct what was known as the Island Church.

During the Revolutionary War, the Ramapough congregation suffered greatly. They had a minister that would only occasionally serve the congregation. It wasnt until 1821, when the Lutheran church in Saddle River was erected, that the Ramapough congregation enjoyed the regular services of a minister.

Some time later, the stronger Reformed congregation bought out the Lutherans interest in the church building. The remaining Lutheran congregation split, forming one congregation just over the border in Airmont, NY, and the other in Ramseys Farm, NJ (now Ramsey).

In 1865, in a small schoolhouse building at the intersection of Cherry Lane and Main Street in Ramsey, the first Sunday School sessions were held. Every eight weeks the small gathering of worshippers would congregate to hear Rev. Ephraim De Yoe preach. Rev. De Yoe was Pastor of the Saddle River church.

During 1866, services were increased from one every eight weeks to one every four weeks. Rev. De Yoe preached at the Saddle River church in the morning, the Airmont church in the afternoon, and for the Ramsey congregation in the evening. In May 1867, he resigned from the Saddle River church and purchased a house in Ramsey where he divided his time between the Ramsey and Airmont congregations.

Interest in constructing a church building for the Ramsey congregation grew. On February 1, 1867, interested members gathered at the home of Jacob Valentine and elected a Building Committee. On May 6, 1867, David W. Valentine deeded a tract of land on the east side of Church Street, containing thirty-hundredths of an acre to The Evangelical Lutheran Emmanuel Church of Ramsey. 

Although construction was temporarily slowed by a lumber shortage, the exterior of the church was completed by the laying of the cornerstone on September 12, 1868. As a result of ongoing construction, the building was not officially dedicated until September 6, 1871. The congregation worshipped in the basement until the sanctuary was approved for occupancy in February of 1872.

The cost of the original construction was $5,700. Construction debt of $900 remained unpaid for some time. Rev. De Yoe continued his service to the church until he retired at age 64 in 1878. Other ministers followed, but the church was frequently without a full-time Pastor.

In 1890, a parsonage was constructed on a lot adjacent to the church at a cost of just under $2,000. In 1915, and continuing into 1916, the churchs interior was remodeled at a cost of $4,940. A pipe organ was also installed; a gift of Mrs. Abram Pulis.

In 1922, the congregation approved plans to enlarge the church at a cost of about $11,000, and in 1927, the churchs interior was redecorated.

In 1939, Luther Bogert deeded a 13-acre parcel of land on Chapel Road in Mahwah, to be used as "Redeemer Cemetery".

In the early morning hours of January 20, 1947, The Lutheran Church of The Redeemer was completely destroyed by fire. Surviving the fire were the church records, choir library, and alter cross. Also salvaged were the church bell, and the baptismal font, both of which are still being used to this day. Insurance covered the loss in the amount of $56,000. From the time of the fire until 1949, the congregation worshipped at the Masonic Temple in Ramsey

Mr. John Y. Dater of Ramsey generously gave the congregation a 2.5-acre property on the corner of Wyckoff Avenue and Ackerman Avenue, for the reconstruction of the church. The land also included Mr. Dater's mother's former home, which was relocated on the property and renovated for use as a parsonage. The cornerstone on the new church was laid on September 12, 1948, and the church was dedicated on May 15, 1949. Rev. W. Kent Gilbert was presiding Pastor.

From 1949 to 1963, several renovations were made to the church's structure and two separate land purchases were made to add adjoining acreage. In 1965, the former parsonage was razed to make room for construction of the Richard E. Creadick Education Building.

The bell tower, erected at the west end of the church, houses the original church bell salvaged from the fire in 1947.