During the late 19th century, the New Jersey coastline became a popular retreat for religious gatherings and camp meetings. As these camps became more and more crowded, families traveled by rail and yacht to our barrier island for its open spaces and pristine beaches.
The new vacationers were members of various protestant denominations, and as they gathered for worship, they found that their denominational diversity enriched their time together. In 1898, the idea was formed for a union church comprised of members of these various denominations.
In the Summer of 1899, a committee of five men was formed to explore the formation of a union church and the construction of an appropriate place of worship. They were Joseph Cross, representing the Protestant Episcopal Church; Calvin S. Crowell, the Methodist Episcopal Church; William C. Coles, the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers); John Weaver, the Baptist Church and P. Kennedy Reeves, the Presbyterian Church. In 1901 the official organization of the church was completed.
From 1901 to present day, there have been over 30 ministerial appointments - both full and part-time. All have played an integral part in our church history by preaching Biblical truths, administering Christian sacraments, educating, leading, counseling and blessing our community. The spiritual life of the congregation and community has also been strengthened by a variety of resources including, youth, men’s and women’s groups, Ladies Aid, choirs, Sunday School, Bible Study group, mid-week prayer meetings, spiritual counseling and baptism, wedding and funeral services. In addition, a multitude of recreational activities promoted and enhanced Christian fellowship inside and outside of the church. These activities included, beach and sailing parties, fruit harvest festivals, crab fests, pot-luck dinners, music services, brunches, bazaars, in-home study groups and more. Many of these resources and activities continue to be staples in our church and community today.
Over the past 100+ years the Union Church of Seaside Park has built a deep and rich history that is still being written today. And while our building has undergone renovations and our congregation and community has evolved, the church continues to maintain the basic protestant belief of its founders - that everyone has direct access, and is responsible, to our Divine Creator.