Morristown, New Jersey in 1960 was fertile ground for the establishing of a Lutheran congregation. The Holy Spirit moved among the charter members as they gathered together with the help of the Synod to form Saint Mark Lutheran Church, a new congregation of the LCA.
The members procured the property on Madison Avenue known as “The Abbey”. The building was constructed as the private residence of General and Mrs. Edward P. Meany between 1880 and 1910. It was known then as Alnwick Hall and was copied from Alnwick, the baronial home of the Percys in Northumberland, England. Edward Meany was a director of AT&T and at one time was Judge Advocate General of New Jersey, hence the title.
Worship services were begun in December of 1960. Saint Mark’s first pastor was the Rev. Herbert Jerome Rasmussen who served from May 1960 through September 1965. Pastor Rasmussen had served five years as an Army chaplain during WWII. He developed three church congregations for the Lutheran church in America during his career. His experience was critical, leading the fledgling congregation of Saint Mark through the challenges of a new ministry in a historic building. When he left Saint Mark, two ministers served as interims: The Rev. John Hanson (October 1965 – March 1966) and the Rev. John Ritter (March 1966- December 1968).
The Rev. Herbert C. Roth was installed as a pastor of Saint Mark on September 7, 1969 and serviced for over thirteen years until his resignation on April 3, 1983. He and his wife Gene had four children and their only daughter, Sharon, became an ordained Lutheran minister. During the time that the Roth’s were with us, it became apparent that the beautiful castle we had called our church home was beginning to be too much of a financial drain on our budget. Maintenance and repair were consuming 50% of our annual funds with no end in sight. Plans were set in motion to build a new church that would fit our requirements and allow us to use our money for projects other than the physical plant.
After much deliberation and monumental work by the Building Committee, we sold the Madison Avenue Abbey and began construction of the newly-acquired land on Harter Road in Morris Township. At the same time, Pastor Roth transitioned into retirement. At his request we began the search for a new pastor so that he or she would start a ministry in the new location. The last service at the old building was June 24, 1984. That final Abbey service included the baptism of Christine Petersen, the daughter of our Musical Director, Ralph Petersen.
The Rev. Eddie Nilsen, his wife Randy, and their children, Mark and Karen, came to Morristown in September of 1983. Pastor Eddie led us in worship, fellowship and outreach, and started our Wednesday evening Bible studies. After having been our shepherd for fourteen years, he took a call to three rural churches in Pennsylvania in August of 1997.
On July 4, 1999, the newly–ordained Rev. William Henry Schulz became our pastor. His beautiful singing voice and animated children’s sermons were appreciated by all. His stay with us was brief, leaving in July of 2001, and we again began the “call” process.
God’s hand was at work once again when we called the newly ordained Rev. Mary Jane Hastings to be our shepherd in March of 2002. Pastor Mary Jane had been a distinguished television producer in her prior career. Under her enthusiastic leadership Saint Mark has deepened its presence in the Morristown community; expanded a strong Bible study program; started a women’s book club and Word & Worship group; initiated a Giving Garden; renovated and rededicated the church building; grown our Fall Family Festival; made inroads into alternative worship services; and brought us closer as a church family. Her dynamic and compassionate personality is at the center of our caring Christian community.