Self Study

Self Study – final-Sept 10, 2010

             (approved by Consistory, August 16, 2010)

             (with recommended revisions through Sept. 10, 2010)






Present identity strengths to build on



Grove Reformed Church has a 166 year history of ministry in crossroads communities which have been home to many waves of immigrants.   The congregation started as a German congregation, and has reached out to immigrants settling here from Italy and Armenia and more recently those from Spanish speaking backgrounds.



The congregation has a heritage of mission vision.

o        It’s subtitle slogan is “telling the generations…Jesus saves.”

o        Currently it supports two missionary couples and gives total supportive benevolences of approximately $18,000. a year.

o           Additionally through administering the trust fund of Penelope Paulsen, the church dispenses food and clothing vouchers to approximately 4 families per week who live in a defined set of area zip codes and are referred by social workers and charity organizations such as the Salvation Army.  Summer camp scholarships are also awarded.

o          Within the congregation are people who believe they are called to communicate the gospel from their heritage of spiritual experience—i.e., being a “missional congregation”.

o        Some members of the Self Study team have warned: We don’t want a vision that is just “survival and procuring leaders for the future.”  We want a church vision with a genuine spiritual development and ministry plan that engages people to partner with us, growing in Christian discipleship.



             Under Rev. Mabon the congregation did church planting long before the present renewed attention to this effective method of Christian congregation development, establishing two root churches of the present Hoboken Community Church, Christ Reformed Church of Union City, First Reformed Church of Union City, Central Avenue Reformed Church in Jersey City, and Guttenberg Reformed Church.  Later the Grove Congregation planted Secaucus Reformed Church, Trinity Reformed Church in West New York, Woodcliff Community Reformed Church, and most recently in 1974, Iglesia de Hispana Reformada (now Guttenberg Reformed Church).



             A monthly service of Prayers for Special Needs is led by the Elders, who offer intercessory prayers from written requests and then provide anointing and prayer, person to person for those who come forward.

             The Self Study team initiated a pre-worship service prayer time which includes prayers for future ministries by Grove people and those God may call.




              The congregation has a decades long history of being multicultural.  Today within its active congregation are people born in India, Ecuador, Holland, Italy, Puerto Rico, and some young people raised in other culturally different parts of the USA.  There are African-Americans, a multiracial couple, college graduates and people with varying levels of education, young singles, young couples, and many people in their 50s, 60s, and seniors.  The spiritual upbringing within the congregation has diversities that could make for delightful discoveries about the richness available for spiritual maturing or personal learning within the present small group.  



             Many members who have moved away cherish the remembrances of a church family that met numerous times a week for participation in Youth Group, Scouting, and recreation events in the Church House, and summer VBS.  The congregation continues a scholarship program for college students who joined here.  We enjoy having them come back to report on their ventures.  At present we can name about 20 young adults with whom we want to keep contact.

             We yearn to redevelop Sunday School, have an after school homework program, a parenting enrichment group, and a young adult ministry to area newcomers.



             The majority of the congregation are seniors or are nearing retirement years.

Some active members have chosen to come to Grove Church when their church closed.

Under the direction of Elder Gert Boggi, a craft group meets weekly and raises funds for scholarships, and a Guild meets monthly and raises funds for an impoverished child.

Refreshment time after worship can extend as much as an hour as people network with other members of their church family.




             We are blest with a beautiful sanctuary—architecturally inspiring, attractively furnished—set in a peaceful grove of trees.  It truly provides a sanctuary from the energetic lifestyle pace outside our doors for all who enter.


             Our challenge is to bring in new leadership for vital future for Grove Church.  The benefactors, who sacrificially gave and bequeathed our reserves, cherished the warm Christian bonds and inspiring spiritual guidance they received here.  Those benefactors envisioned a continuing Christian experience being provided for multiple future generations.   The present congregation, though smaller in number, cherishes the warm Christian fellowship, enriching worship, and personal development available here now.  Many are committed to a transformation that builds discipleship among multiple generations.


Directions ahead for development and ministry.



             Young adults from across the US are taking up residence on the east side of North Bergen, and in other nearby towns.

             60% of North Bergen has Spanish speaking backgrounds.  Demographics show changes occurring.  Cuban residents are moving out.  Dominican Republic residents now number highest among Spanish speaking national backgrounds.  However there is a rapid influx happening from many central and South American countries with distinctive identities.

             Reflective of many urban areas, the neighborhoods nearby are becoming more multiethnically diverse than in previous times.




We have been asked by consultants, “Whom is God bringing to you?”


  • Young adults and young parents of various ethnic backgrounds.

Anglo, African-American, Hispanic, many with college education.

  • Seniors from closing churches.

  • Paulsen fund recipients – we have discovered talented parents facing hard times but able and wanting to converse about how to apply their faith.


             So we are preparing to explore ministry to:



             We aim to become educated in the many challenges young adults face toward developing a satisfying identity and purpose-filled awareness.  We aim to discover the spiritual resources that enrich that pilgrimage.

             We aim to resource dating and newly married couples in ways that enrich their bonding and development.

             We aim to equip parents for each stage of parenting, including spiritual resources for their home discussions.



             Providing worship, programs, speakers and resources that enable seniors to discover the richness of God’s calling at each stage of their life venture, and find Christian friends to partner with them in each transition.



             Appreciation for the spiritual heritage of each national and ethnic background.

             Worship celebration which includes spiritual enrichment from various backgrounds.

             Small group events where people can tell their stories of faith heritage, and explore what they want for their personal development.

             Census studies have helped us identify each national background that is represented, including their mobility in numbers in the past 10 years.

Percept studies have helped us understand the diversity of denominational upbringing and worship and music preferences, while interviews have brought alive to us their basic common yearnings for practical faith expressions and vital singing.



What about the 60% Hispanic population around you?


How we will not focus

             With our previous bilingual pastor and wife, we attempted unsuccessfully to reach Hispanic neighbors.  We have discovered that the church competition for the Spanish speaking people is high.  Some Anglo young adult visitors report to us that they had a hard time finding a church that did not speak Spanish.  We are monitoring the slow growth of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, a bilingual Cuban congregation that meets in our facilities.


How we see our unique role

             We see a unique valued role in offering an English speaking ministry to second and third generation Hispanic background people who are looking to retain their Christian character by better discerning wise and foolish choices in U.S. culture.  As they prepare to integrate more fully into American culture, we hope to be an attractive, effective spiritual and moral enrichment center.

As we are discovering and treasuring the diverse spiritual heritage of our present members, we hope to discover how to appreciate and celebrate the richness of each spiritual heritage represented in our multinational local area population.  







Are these visions above just pie in the sky hopes?

Or are they realistic goals for church development?

Are they worthy Christian goals?

Can God transform us into more missional Christian disciples through these goals?


We’ve been testing…and learning…through these initial initiatives.


Young adults


  • Introduced our current congregation to a Contemporary Worship service (November 8th, 2009) with very positive response.


  • After we visited and evaluated 3 churches reaching young adults, we’ve introduced more “blended worship” aspects in our summer, 2010 worship services, with positive response.


  • Upgrading our website brought at least three new couples to church.


  • Volleyball nights to attract college-age and older young adults



Challenges we recognize:


  • Will we reach area unchurched young adults through our blended service?  Or do we need a different format as a later alternate step?


  • Small group ministry is highly effective in reaching and enriching today’s young adults.  How shall we develop focus groups that bring area people into that valuable experience?


  • Percept and Census studies indicated an influx nearby of highly educated, highly motivated business oriented young adults.  The studies also indicate a diverse and changing ethnic population, including 60% Hispanic background from many diverse national and culturally different backgrounds.  How do we address common interests and speak spiritually to the diversity of hopes within this diverse population?


  • Can we be an attractive English speaking Christian community to more neighboring young adults (many Hispanic) who go to nearby Community Colleges and stay home as they start out in the work world?  Can we help them minister to each other with their challenging needs and interests?


  • How shall we network effectively with potential young adults, by relationships, phone, letter, blogs, Emails or advertising?





Young couples


We’ve been testing…and learning…through these initial initiatives.


  • Valentines Day marriage enrichment distribution packet.


  • Movie night, utilizing “Fireproof”, a film to strengthen marriage


  • After church discussions with young couples are helping us learn the needs and hopes of young couples.



Young parents


  • Neighboring Hispanic congregations we visit are teaching us what attracts.  Ebenezer Baptist Church Youth Group (Hispanic, housed at Grove) has discussions which are teaching us about how to address US culture and moral challenges.


  • Our Paulsen fund ministry to needy parents has given us awareness in dialogues with them of their strengths, hopes, and needs, and their high interest in being affirmed and coached.   A new free literature rack has further clued us in on spiritual resources and parenting resources they want.  Some of them could be future leaders here.


  • Baptism follow up resources and cradle roll mailings are being tested now.


  • Testing a Children’s Christmas Musical taught us about more outreach possibilities.


  • Interviewing community people has helped us know about challenging needs and hopes for building effective ministry.


  •  Interviewing teachers in our congregation has focused the need for home work helpers.


  • Nursery and Pre-School Activities during worship – test run proposed for autumn. 



Here are some of the challenges we recognize:

    • How can we more effectively build bridges with those who come to receive assistance through the Paulsen ministry, and show leadership potential that we need?

    • How can we supply the leadership necessary to provide on-going children’s ministries?

    • How do we engage parents as leaders we need so we become the missional congregation we desire to be?


Seniors ministries


We’ve been testing…and learning…through these initial initiatives.


  • Weekly Sunday Coffee hour - It is a wonderful time of exchange; some Sundays we stay for lunch to discuss our faith.


  • Prayer team  -  Seniors at home pray for requests gathered at our monthly Service of Prayers for Special Needs


  • Church Van service


  • Age appropriate Grandparent resources offered before each grandchild’s birthday


  • A Self Study Team member is gathering resources to equip seniors through all the transitions of aging, as mentors and shepherds to each other.  The vision is

    • to develop on-site and at-home small groups and book discussions

    • to secure speakers on physical, mental, financial and spiritual health of seniors

    • to do visitations into local nursing homes to bring faith and nurturing to those who are alone

    • to establish our website as a " Senior Learning Center" in Hudson County



Small group ministries


             This is the most effective growth tool in US churches today.  This year we have been trying some unique attempts at involving more people in such dialogues.


We’ve been testing…and learning…through these initial initiatives.


  • Sunday lunches with small group discussions on our spiritual experiences


  • Affirming how congregational members are, and could be, supporting Elder and Deacon roles


  • Adult Bible Class discussions on Bible passages related to Giftedness, Elders and Deacons roles, resurrection appearances, etc.  Their united prayer time near the end of the class was rich with offering of personal concerns.  Now they join the pre-service prayer circle praying for the future development and ministries of Grove Church.


  • The Craft group weekly meetings where members share fellowship, mutual interests and a time of prayer; their proceeds provide scholarships for young people in the Grove family. 


  • Women’s Guild plans fellowship events to raise funds to support a poor child.  Each meeting includes a Bible meditation or discussion.





We’ve been testing…and learning…through these initial initiatives.


  • Auditing the DVD “Living the Faith” by several Self Study team members to better understand multicultural worship and fellowship developments.


  • Celebrating our multicultural congregation on Pentecost Sunday with a four language recitation of the Apostles Creed and ethnic foods was received enthusiastically; there are requests for more such events.


  • Testing of special worship events with diversity of music has been welcomed


  • A children’s music and narration event on Christmas Customs and songs from Cuba, Australia, Mexico, and some European cultures. 


Here are some of the challenges we recognize:

    • How can we incorporate some of the treasured spiritual traditions of our multicultural congregation into our current worship experience?



  July 2018  
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