The First Presbyterian Church of Goshen undoubtedly has the distinction of being the oldest religious organization in the County of Orange. Ruttenber’s History of the County of Orange says: “There is ample evidence of a collateral nature to show that the Presbyterian Church of Goshen was organized as early as 1721. The dates of legal papers conveying property to the church and the regular call and settlement of a pastor establish this fact. There are, however, no church records in the possession of the society showing either facts, dates, or names for the succeeding sixty years. The founders of the church were doubtless in the main, the founders of Goshen.”
Local tradition records that as early as 1715 a small congregation assembled in Goshen to hear the preaching of an itinerant clergyman by the name of Treat.
At the laying of the corner stone of the present edifice, May 11, 1869, the Rev. Dr. Snodgrass, Pastor of the church, in his address said:
“During the year 1720 there was preaching in the settlement occasionally by a clergyman by the name of Treat, but in 1721 a call was made upon the Rev. John Bradner, who accepted the invitation, and was installed that year as the first Pastor. He was ordained to the ministry in 1714 and was settled for some years before he came to Goshen at Cape May in the State of New Jersey. He died in 1732 and his remains are with us today.
In 1724 a committee was appointed to superintend the erection of the first house of worship. There are no particulars on record as to the character, dimensions, or completion of this building, but it is well-known to have been a wooden structure, and to have occupied the ground on which the Court House now stands. This building continued to accommodate the congregation up to the year 1810.. In January of that year a committee was appointed to take into consideration the erection of a new building. This new building was completed in 1813 at a cost of $14,000, and was dedicated in August of that year.”
The present spacious and majestic temple was dedicated November 22, 1871. It is built of rough-cut blue lime-stone. A spire of solid stone rises from one front corner of the church to a height of 186 feet from the ground. This is supplemented by a campanile tower 70 feet high at the other corner of the chapel entrance. The bell hangs in the main tower. Above it is the town clock with four dials. The main auditorium with its large gallery is capable of seating more than a thousand people. The church owns a splendid manse and a fine large parish house.
During the two centuries since the installation of the first Pastor there have been but twelve Pastors in that long period, and no considerable time has intervened in the succession of Pastors. Their names and years of service are:
|Rev. John Bradner||1721-1732|
|Rev. Silas Leonard||1734-1754|
|Rev. Abner Brush||1758-1766|
|Rev. Nathan Ker, A. M||1766-1804|
|Rev. Isaac Lewis||1805-1812|
|Rev. Ezra Fisk, D. D||1813-1833|
|Rev. James P. Johnson||1835-1839|
|Rev. Robert McCartee, D. D||1840-1849|
|Rev. William D. Snodgrass, D. D||1849-1885|
|Rev. Robert Bruce Clark, D. D||1885-1902|
|Rev. Francis Stoddard Haines||1903-1922|
|Rev. George Hamilton Scofield, Ph. D||1922|
Dr. George H. Scofield, the present pastor, was born in East Newark, N. J. He is the son and grandson of Presbyterian clergymen. Upon graduation from New York University in 1911 he was awarded the Philosophical Fellowship and membership in the honorary society of Phi Beta, Kappa. He is also a graduate of Union Theological Seminary and has taken post-graduate courses at N. Y. L. T. Columbia and other educational institutions, receiving the academic degrees of M. A. and Ph. D.
He served as pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Highland, N. Y., from 1913-1922, and since then has been pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Goshen.
Tusculum College, one of the oldest Presbyterian institutions of learning, conferred upon him in 1926 the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity in recognition of his Christian service for young people. He has the distinction of being the youngest person to receive that degree from the college. For several years he has been vice-president of the New York State C. E. Union, a director of the Y. M. C. A., Boy Scouts and other young people’s organizations.
Dr. Scofield is a Chaplain in the Organized Reserves of the U. S. Army, a Royal Arch Mason and Knight Templar. He has traveled extensively in the United States and abroad.