A Brief History of Grace Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Fair Lawn
In the summer of 1945, the Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church purchased a house at 564 Fair Lawn Parkway, Fair Lawn, New Jersey. At that time the committee called Rev. Bruce Coie as organizing pastor. On Sunday, October 14, 1945, the first worship service was held in the basement of that manse, then occupied by Bruce and his wife, Rebecca.
By God’s grace, the work prospered such that in 1948 the present property was purchased. Ground was broken for the original church building on September 18, 1949, which was dedicated on January 6, 1950. The fledgling congregation became a particular church in the Presbytery of New Jersey when it was received on May 27, 1951.
Rev. Roy Oliver became the next pastor of the congregation. He and his wife, Betty, served from 1952 until early 1956.
Rev. Ray Commeret served the congregation as pastor from 1956 to 1972. His fruitful 16-year ministry with his wife, Rosemary, saw considerable growth in the congregation. The building was enlarged and extended, commencing November 29, 1959, and dedicated June 19, 1960. His tenure also saw the building of the present manse on the church property.
Rev. Dennis Johnson served the congregation as pastor from 1973 to 1976, when he and his wife, Jane, moved to California where he later became a professor at the new Westminster Theological Seminary in California.
In 1977, new Westminster graduate Rev. David Kiester was ordained and installed to be the congregation’s fifth pastor. He left in 1979 to serve the congregations of Carson and Lark in North Dakota.
In the spring of 1980, the congregation providentially happened upon a pulpit supply visitor from New Zealand, Rev. Ken J. Campbell, who came with his wife, Heather. The pulpit committee prevailed upon Mr. Campbell to return to candidate for the vacant pastorate, and the congregation subsequently called him to be the pastor. Pastor Campbell began ministering as pastor-elect in October, was installed on December 17, 1980, and served for 26 years. His last worship service prior to returning to New Zealand was October 8, 2006.
In 2007, Rev. Dr. Mark J. Larson assumed the pastorate of Grace OPC Fair Lawn and served until April 2012. Mark and his wife, Cynthia, had attended the congregation with their growing family on Sunday evenings some twenty years earlier when they lived in the area.
On October 19, 2013, Rev. John J. Keegan of Philadelphia was ordained and installed as the eighth pastor of Grace Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Fair Lawn NJ. He and his wife, HaeSung, are the newest residents in the church manse located on the church property at 151 South Broadway.
The Lord has preserved Grace OPC Fair Lawn for nearly 70 years with faithful preaching, pastoring, ministry of the Word, and fellowship. As a session and as a congregation, we look forward to participation in that promise of Christ to continue to build His church, until He calls or comes again. His faithfulness endures to all generations.
Bob Reith, Ruling Elder and Session Clerk
Written with the help of notes from Ken J. Campbell