JENNINGS AT PLAINFIELD
Terrill Road Bible Chapel in Fanwood has an illustrious history. By the year 1870, a small group of 15 or 20 believers were gathering together in assembly fellowship in Plainfield. Of the original company, only one name is remembered, that of Louis Rhéaume. Mrs. Elie Loizeaux was a step-daughter of his.
Later in the 1880s, Paul and Timothy Loizeaux with their families moved to Plainfield and met with this small group. They were the founders of the Bible Truth Depot, later known as Loizeaux Brothers Publishers. At about this time F.C. Jennings, a gifted writer and teacher, joined with the group. The assembly grew and the Lord blessed. A little later, J.D. Loizeaux, the Perrins, the Hardinghams, and the Maugers came into fellowship.
Toward the end of the 1880s, F.W. Grant, the well known assembly leader and writer, came to Plainfield with his family and took his place among this group. (F.W. Grants sons, Fred and Frank, and some members of the Loizeaux family, were associated with a similar assembly in nearby Berkeley Heights the Berkeley Heights Gospel Hall which continued until World War II.) F.W. Grant produced The Numerical Bible while in Plainfield. Miss Emily Farmer, who assisted C.I. Scofield in the preparation of his well known reference Bible, was also in the assembly for many years. During these years, the assembly was known as Bible Truth Hall in Plainfield, but was usually called the Front Street Meeting, denoting its location in downtown Plainfield at 331 E. Front Street.
Soon after the turn of the century, Samuel Ridout, another well known author, came to Plainfield with his family, and came into fellowship. F.W. Grant and Samuel Ridout were successive editors of Help and Food. The Front Street Meeting was quite large at this time. After Mr. Ridout died in 1930, John Bloore assumed the editorship of Help and Food for twelve years. He perhaps more than anyone else was used to break down some of the party lines among brethren. The Front Street Meeting had been in the exclusive camp, and with Mr. Bloores and others efforts, became an open meeting.
Others in the meeting in the first half of the 1900s were James Parker; Hughes Fawcett; P. Daniel, Elie, Alfred, and Parker Loizeaux, the sons of Timothy Loizeaux; Fred and Frank Grant, the sons of F.W. Grant; the Armerding family; the Loughs; Carvers; Inglis Fleming; Ferdinand French; Walter Temple; and for a time, John Smart and R.E. Harlow. Those who ministered at the assembly comprise a veritable Whos Who among the brethren.
Hillside Cemetery, located on the border of Scotch Plains and Plainfield, stands today as a memorial of many saints, including those listed. Their tombstones stand as a great tribute to Gods Word. The entrance of this cemetery is graced by the markers of three of the original Loizeaux family, whose inscriptions are written in French.
The Front Street Meeting built a new chapel in the neighboring town of Fanwood in 1957 and since then has been called the Terrill Road Bible Chapel. Others in leadership over the years include John Reid, Phillip Carter, John French, Ledley Perrin, Douglas Haggan, Robert Hansen, and William Patterson. The assembly has commended several people to the work of the Lord in Puerto Rico, to itinerant ministry, to Emmaus Bible College, and other areas. Terrill Road has about 110 adults and youngsters in attendance at this time.
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The assembly that meets today at Cedarcroft Bible Chapel in South Plainfield has its roots in the Front Street Meeting, discussed above. In late 1898 or early 1900, several men with their families left that exclusive assembly and started an open meeting in a storefront the Liberty Street Assembly. Among these were F.C. Jennings, Sydney Perrin, Walter Hardingham, Joshua D. Loizeaux, Nathan Saunders, and Nicholas and Edward Mauger.
The Baehr family moved from Bronx, NY to Plainfield in 1912. A couple named Platts lived across the street from the Baehrs and sent Mr. Perrin to visit them. He told the Baehrs about the Sunday School at Liberty Street, and the parents realized this was the place they had been looking for. This was in 1918. Conrad Baehr and his wife Myrtle later became missionaries to China.
Mr. Perrin, the son of W. L. Perrin who owned an insurance company in New York, was a Sunday School superintendent; he picked up the children and bought bus or trolley car tickets for others who lived further away. Joshua D. Loizeaux took young people to the local rescue mission to help in the assembly ministries there.
Later, the Christians moved to a larger building and became the Washington Avenue Gospel Hall in Plainfield. For many years, F.C. Jennings had a Tuesday evening Bible class at the Westfield Assembly, which was a hive-off from the Washington Avenue Meeting. He would walk the five to seven miles to Westfield for these classes, and take transportation home.
In the 1930s, the Washington Avenue Meeting moved to the Grove Street Chapel in North Plainfield. They remained there until buying property and building a chapel on Kenyon Avenue in South Plainfield in 1965, calling it Cedarcroft Bible Chapel. Leading brothers over the years at Grove Street/Cedarcroft include Frank Biffen, Rufus Hummel, James Van Duzer, Alfred Guzzetti, and many others. Kingsley Baehr is a resident worker for the assembly.
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When the Front Street Meeting broke from the exclusive camp in the 1930s, ties between the two Plainfield meetings became strong, and there was much interaction between them. They formed monthly missionary meetings in Plainfield, alternating responsibility for the meetings. They fellowshipped regularly together for a number of years until the Front Street Meeting moved to Fanwood. The William Deans family, who had ties with both the Front Street and Grove Street meetings, left for Africa as missionaries in 1929, with a send-off from both assemblies. In 1940, the Front Street Meeting procured a printing press for the Deans in the Congo, with which to print Christian literature.
Captain Barlow, who had been a sea captain, became the New York dock captain of the Cunard Line and did much to help many missionaries with transportation and in other ways as well. He also helped start a monthly missionary meeting, probably in the early thirties, in a small meeting in Elizabeth. A light supper was served and missionary letters were read, followed by a prayer meeting. The monthly missionary meeting outgrew the chapel in Elizabeth and was moved to the larger Kenilworth Gospel Chapel (see below) with the same format, and attended by a sizable number of people from many different New Jersey assemblies.
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