Oak Grove Presbyterian Church at Retreat

“A small country church with a big heart”

304 Philos Bridge Road, Southampton Township, New Jersey

History of Oak Grove Presbyterian Church

The below history was written by Mrs. Gladys Cramer, March 15, 1969. It is transcribed here exactly as published in the Church Bulletin in 1969.

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE FOUNDERS AND OF THE CHURCH

Prior to 1916, Mrs. Mary Davis had been for 25 years a school teacher in Philadelphia, PA. Her health becoming somewhat impaired, it was suggested to her by Dr. Savitz, principal of the Glassboro, NJ. High School, that she might go down into New Jersey pines and take charge of a little school at Johnson place. Accepting this suggestion Mrs. Davis went forth, and found this small settlement near the center of Burlington County, and became deeply interested in a little group of children who attended the school, In carrying on her work she was greatly assisted by Mr. Morse, of Trenton NJ., Who was on the state board of education at that time, by reason of his official relation was able to render her much assistance.

Sensing the need of a fuller development that school books alone could afford, Mrs. Davis organized a Sunday School, and conducted simple religious services, and before long her faithful laborers, together with the example of her dedicated life, began to exert an influence upon the whole community.

It was at this time and under these conditions that in the year of 1916, the Rev. Samuel J McClanaghan, Superintendent of Presbyterian Synod Home Missions, in New Jersey, heard of Mrs. Davis, and came in contact with her devoted work. Observing in her the true missionary spirit, and the high regard in which she was held by all the people, he saw the possibilities of the greater good which she could accomplish. And she would devote her time and her energies more largely to the region ages and interests and well-being of the people.

He therefore inquired of Mrs. Davis if she would be willing to resign from the schoolwork and except a commission as church missionary of the Pine belt of New Jersey, provided a cottage would be built adjacent to the Johnson place School House, and adequate support be granted.

Mrs. Davis accepted the appointment, and upon the fulfillment of the condition entered into her enlarged activities, and for nearly 10 years lived to see the mission develop and grow.

In the summer of 1917, Mrs. Maud Baker, widowed niece of Mrs. Davis came down from Philadelphia to visit her aunt and assist her in her work. She stayed on and continued it until 1961.

In 1919, traveling to Mount Holly for shopping Mrs. Davis passed the old school house in retreat. Being a school teacher Her mind started to work. She visited the families to see if there would be an interest in a Sunday school.

The people showed her great interest, and on the first Sunday five people attended services, Mrs. Rebecca Hill and her grandson William Cramer, Albert LeDuc, Mrs. Baker and Mrs. Davis. The next Sunday Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Wells and several other families attended.

In 1922 the building was purchased from the Board of Education of Burlington County, This was enlarged and transformed into a structure suitable for religious services. This was brought about by the efforts of Mr. Theodore Budd a local cranberry grower. In 1923 it was dedicated by Rev. Raymond H Gage.

In 1922 the building was purchased from the Board of Education of Burlington County, This was enlarged and transformed into a structure suitable for religious services. This was brought about by the efforts of Mr. Theodore Budd a local cranberry grower. In 1923 it was dedicated by Rev. Raymond H Gage.

Rev. James H Rendell, Pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Beverly offered his services as our ordained minister, serving for the next 18 years.

Upon the death of Mrs. Davis in 1926, Mrs. Baker married a gentleman of long residence of the pines, Albert LeDuc, who proved to be a very efficient helper to his wife.

Mrs. LeDuc was placed in charge of the mission. She regarded it as a great privilege and joy you have succeeded her aunt, and devoted her whole life to her work.

Sunday school was held every Sunday morning at 10:30 AM until 12 noon, and church services were held the first and third Sunday evenings.

The Christian Endeavor and the sunshine Club held meetings prior to church in the evenings.

In 1954 we added a wing to the side of the church; this is to become the Sunday school. This was done with the help of the men of the church and people interested in the growth of our Church.

On October 13, 1957 we became a full church electing Trustees and Elders. There were 60 members signing the original charter membership.

As time went by and we continued to grow. We used every available space as Sunday school rooms. We had to use our sanctuary and the kitchen to provide space for our growing number of children. We realized if we were to continue to serve the people of our community we would have to expand our facilities. After many long meetings and discussions with many people, plans were drawn up for a new wing which would include Sunday school rooms, a new enlarged kitchen and many storage closets, etc. In March of 1968, we had our groundbreaking ceremony and started on our building project. It would be impossible for me to name today all the people who contributed their time, talents and financial aid during this expansion program.

When on March 15, 1969 we dedicated our new building everyone who had part in it for the tremendous amount of pride and accomplishment. Our new building has been used mainly as a Sunday school, but we do hold our Sunday school teachers meetings, women's Guild meeting, here and senior high youth group activities and our church suppers there. We also hold our session meeting their.

This brings us now to the present. We hope that we will always continue to expand and grow that in the future we will need more buildings as more people come to join us in our worship services and in the Fellowship that we enjoy as a church family. We extend this welcome to all.

This brief history was written by Mrs. Gladys Cramer, March 15, 1969. Anyone wishing further details should see the minutes of Synod of New Jersey. 1916 page 55, 1917-44.