Prior to the opening of the Gillette Community Chapel in January 1947, it was necessary for the children of Gillette desiring to attend Sunday school to travel to Union Village, Stirling, and Millington and as far as New Providence. From time to time the mothers of these children had expressed the hope that someday Gillette might have its own Sunday school. Hearing of this desire, the Reverend Samuel C. Patterson, a fully ordained minister, asked the interested mothers if they would be willing to help establish a Sunday school in Gillette.

Reverend Patterson founded the Gillette Community Chapel in 1947, in a small building on the corner of Lackawanna Boulevard and Summit Avenue, Gillette. The building was built originally for a Sunday school but had not been used as such for many years, and was known as the Gillette Community House. It was used for Girl Scouts, Art Clubs, etc., and was also used as a school classroom in Gillette for a short period. One of Rev. Patterson’s five daughters attended school there.

On the second Sunday in January 1947, the Gillette Community Chapel was opened with approximately 45 children and teachers attending. True to the words of Jesus Christ, that a little child should lead them, the parents soon after expressed a desire for a regular church that they might attend.

On Easter Sunday, April 6, 1947, the first church service was held with approximately 100 people attending. When the congregation organized officially as the Gillette Community Chapel, the Board of Trustees of the original Sunday school building deeded the property to the Gillette Community Chapel.

The first Official Board consisted of 12 local mothers and, from this humble start, the Board grew to a membership of 21. Since that first Sunday in 1947, the Gillette Community Chapel membership grew steadily. On Easter Sunday 1957, there was a ground breaking ceremony for the new addition. The renovation and enlargement of the Chapel, which added an auditorium with a stage, and a basement meeting room with a kitchen, was completed in 1958.

The chapel was well known for its musical-comedy shows performed annually for 28 years from 1953 through 1980. The shows were all written, directed and performed by members of the congregation. Even the scenery and sets were designed and made by members of the congregation. Members of the congregation also formed the band, which provided the music accompaniment. The shows ran for five nights each spring and were always well attended. The chapel was also known for its smorgasbord dinners held several times a year. Both functions were discontinued when membership declined.

Reverend Patterson served as Pastor from 1947 until he passed away on March 8, 1997 at age 89. Ailing in his last few years, he was assisted by his daughter, Rev. Thelma Pickell who led the chapel in worship and ministry. Rev. Pickell continued in this capacity with the Gillette Community Chapel until God lead her to begin her own ministry work. Rev. Pickell served God through her ministry until her untimely passing in November 2001.

After Rev. Patterson’s passing a series of guest ministers from Drew University led the church services until September 7, 1997 when David W. Geschwindner was appointed and ordained as pastor. Rev. Geschwindner served as pastor until his resignation on April 30, 2005.

In June of 2005 through Drew University, Rev. Dr. Gary Girao was selected and appointed pastor. Rev. Girao indicated that his goal in ministry was to become a missionary,and that eventually he would leave us for that purpose. He was accepted into the church with that understanding. Rev. Girao served as pastor of the Gillette Community Chapel until January 2007 at which time he took a missionary position with a hospital in Australia.

For the next several months the Sunday worship services of the Gillette Chapel were once again led by members of the congregation but mostly through the efforts of Bill Stortz. Bill served in this capacity all too short of a time, succumbing to his battle with acute myelogenous leukemia in June 2007.

In August 2007 we met Rev. Randall Bibighaus, who was a co-worker of one of our congregation members and asked him to lead us in our sermon messages. Rev. Bibighaus ministered with the Gillette Community Chapel from September 2007 through June 2010 in this capacity. The worship service continued to be led by members of our congregation during this time. This gave an opportunity to our members to lead others, sharing the Word of God and the simple teachings of Jesus Christ.

In September 2010, through Drew University, the chapel welcomed Pastor Jung-Doo Kim as a temporary interim pastor. Rev. Kim is studying at Drew towards his doctorate in theology and philosophical studies. Rev. Kim shared his sermon messages at the Chapel through April 2011 at which time he took a full-time teaching position at a seminary college in New Brunswick, NJ.

Upon Rev. Kim’s resignation, Dr. Rev. Timothy Salo, a colleague of Rev. Kim at Drew University, was approached by the congregation to lead us through his sermon messages for Sunday services. Dr. Tim had shared with us on a few prior occasions in Rev. Kim’s absence, and was gracious in stepping forward to support our Chapel in an interim pastoral capacity. Dr. Tim has an extensive accredited pastoral and educational background. He has joined with us in a full pastor capacity, guiding us spiritually, in addition to delivering our sermon message during Sunday morning services. He also continues to teach at a variety of Christian colleges and universities where he helps to lead others through ministry and education.

Updated: April 2017

123 Summit Ave (corner Lackawanna Blvd)

Gillette, New Jersey 07933, (908) 647 2573

History of the Gillette Community Chapel