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Our History
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Amwell Church was organized in 1733. In the late fall of that year, when the early German settlers in this area heard that John Naas had landed in Philadelphia in mid-September, a delegation made up of Jacob Moore, Antony Dierdorff, Rudolph Herli and John Peter Lausche waited on Naas and persuaded him to return with them to Amwell as their first pastor. Naas remained in Amwell for the rest of his life. He passed away in May 1741. In his later years he had as an assistant, John Bechtelsheimer. About Bechtelsheimer we know but little except he stayed on for some time after the death of Naas. Then apparently he left Amwell and all trace of him is lost. Only fragments of information have come down to us as to who may have carried on the work after the departure of Bechtelsheimer. During the next forty years various men seem to have been in charge. George Klein was here for a time and later on William Housell and Abraham Lawshe ministered to the people. The latter had married a daughter of John Bechtelsheimer.

In 1790 Morgan Edwards visited the area and reported that the Brethren had only forty-six members and no house of worship. Services were held around in the homes of the farmers and the preaching was still in German. There is no record of when Israel Poulson took over the work. He seems to have been here prior to 1811 for in that year he gave a half-acre of ground from his farm as the site for a church building. Presumably a building was put up soon afterward to be followed in 1856 by another and larger building which was substantially the church that we know today. Israel Poulson could speak no German so the changeover to preaching in English had to be made and the congregation began to grow. His pastorate covered a period of about fifty years during which he became a sort of living legend. 

In 1848 there was a vacancy in the next ranking Eldership. The congregation selected Israel Poulson, Jr., a son of the pastor for this position. The choice caused trouble. John P. Moore felt that he was in line for the post and he was disappointed and angry. After a long and bitter dispute, he and about twenty of his sympathizers withdrew and formed a church in Sand Brook. In February 1856, Israel Poulson died and his son assumed full charge. In spite of an unfortunate beginning, Israel Jr. proved to be a good pastor and under his able leadership the church enjoyed a steady growth. In 1873 dissension again arose and so bitter did it become that the pastor felt constrained to give over his pastorate. The discontent smoldered for about twenty-five years until the late 1890's when quite a number withdrew and formed a church in Sergeantsville, which left Amwell in a badly weakened condition. 

After Israel Poulson, Jr. left, a long succession of Elders was sent over from Pennsylvania to take charge of the work. Perhaps the best remembered of these are Frank F. Holsopple, Jacob F. Graybill and Monroe B. Miller, but in spite of the best efforts of these dedicated men the work continued to languish. In 1916 the Rev. Henry T. Horne became the leader and a new era began to dawn for Amwell. He seemed to be the right man in the right place at the right time. As a result of his wise and patient leadership, accessions to the church increased, the Sunday School was revitalized and many material improvements were made possible. Rev. Horne continued in the work until 1943 when advancing age and bodily infirmities compelled him to relinquish the pastorate.

After an interim of about three years, the congregation invited the Rev. George W. Landis, then at the Springfield Church in Pennsylvania, to become their leader. In 1950 fire destroyed the interior of the church building, but by a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit, they were able to completely restore the sanctuary within a remarkably short time. Since then the facilities for the Sunday School have been enlarged until the church stands today fully equipped to serve God and the community. The pastorate of Brother Landis was a period of steady growth in strength and increase in dedication on the part of the people. The church has been able to extend her influence for good far beyond the geographical limits of Amwell. 

What does the future hold? That is in God's hands, but judging from the way He led Amwell safely through her many ups and downs for over two hundred fifty years, we can only look forward with confidence and eager anticipation, trusting in His ultimate goodness. 

Frank E. Burd - date unknown

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  • 40 Sandbrook-Headquarter Rd
    Stockton, NJ 08559
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