Header Image

Our History

In April of 2001, a local newspaper ran a 3-part series entitled “A Church Reborn,” telling the unique story of the beginning of Bridgeway Community Church ... a story of faithfulness, and new life.

Thus, First Christian Reformed Church became one of the first churches to undergo a “rebirth” transformation, a process which began with a formal closing ceremony in August, 1998. Approximately 40 individuals, along with a newly-called church-planting pastor (Andy Sytsma), formed the core group to plan the new church. This group met informally on Sunday mornings for the next 8-9 months for “training sessions” focused primarily on reinforcing the personal faith walks of the members. The new entity of “Bridgeway Community Church” was officially launched on Easter Sunday, 1999, characterized by a more casual worship environment and contemporary praise music. Membership has increased slowly but steadily over the years, with a high percentage of new members being new converts, not transfers from other churches. The BCC church body has also grown to reflect the wonderful ethnic diversity of our northern New Jersey region.

As its name emphasizes, a primary mission of BCC is to be the body of Christ in our own neighborhood. In 1991, a food pantry was set up and operated directly out of the church building, offering prayer and friendship along with bags of groceries. This program became so successful that it soon outgrew the capacity of the BCC building, and it became apparent that there were many other unmet needs in the community. This prompted the creation of a separate entity, New Hope Community Ministries, in 2003. This organization now has a full-time director, a dedicated facility and staff, a board of directors representing 4 local CRC and RCA churches, and is supported by financial gifts and volunteers from approximately 20 congregations. In addition to the food pantry, New Hope offers additional resources such as financial counseling, family counseling, job training, a mother’s network, and mentoring relationships.

In 1999, BCC began hosting the ALPHA program several times throughout the year, and this remains an ongoing and successful ministry. As a result of going through ALPHA, a number of individuals have committed themselves to Christ, professed their faith publicly, and became members of BCC. Lives have been changed!  The weekly ALPHA sessions have been expanded recently to include “next step” studies in areas such as prayer and discipleship.

Another important “mission field” in the greater Haledon neighborhood is that of the youth population, many of whom are troubled, underprivileged, and/or lacking good role models in their own families. BCC has struggled for years with how best to meet the needs of these kids. To address this challenge/opportunity, a full- time youth pastor (Aaron Metthe) was called in the Fall of 2008. Aaron is very passionate about youth, and he spent two years working hard on creating an environment that is relevant to urban teens and which might effect authentic, tangible life change and create a real sense of community.

BCC has also been instrumental in the establishment of new ministries outside of our immediate community. In 2002, one of the original members, Caroline Mugai, felt called to return to her native country of Kenya and initiate a ministry to children orphaned by HIV/AIDS or living with HIV/AIDS-affected family members. This ministry, called Bridgeway Centre Trust, has been supported by BCC through prayers and financial gifts since its beginning, and a contingency of BCC members even traveled to Kenya during May of 2009 to observe firsthand and encourage the important work being done there.

During 2006-2007, BCC hosted a young seminarian as an intern pastor (Benjamin Spalink), whose vision was to be a church planter. While serving at BCC, he teamed up with another young pastor in New York City, and began making plans to launch an outreach church in lower Manhattan. BCC views this new church plant (City Grace) as a daughter church, and continues to provide financial support. A number of BCC members attend City Grace services on a rotating basis as a gesture of fellowship and personal support.  In 2011, Bridgeway partnered with Dwell Church, a second plant in Manhattan's Bowery.

While itself a relatively young organization, Bridgeway Community Church (BCC) represents the fruit of many decades of God’s faithfulness to His kingdom work in the Haledon, NJ area. The predecessor of BCC was First Christian Reformed Church, a traditional, heavily Dutch CRCNA congregation with a 100+ year history. First Christian Reformed Church was originally located in Paterson, NJ, but following a fire in 1949, relocated to the current site in Haledon, NJ where it thrived for several more decades.

Over time however, the demographics of this once mostly Dutch neighborhood began to change, and the church’s health began to decline during the 1980s and 1990s as more and more members moved away. It became increasingly evident that, in its current state, First Christian Reformed Church was not going to be able to survive, much less have any meaningful impact on the surrounding community. This realization prompted vigorous debate regarding the fate of the church body, as well as the building/grounds and other assets. While there was consideration given to conventional options such as merging with another local Christian Reformed Church or simply closing down, there remained a strong conviction among a portion of the congregation that God was calling for a renewed ministry that would better serve the local community.

In 2010, we called Pastor Anton to pastor BCC who has begun to lay the foundation for bringing the next stage of life for BCC as it continues its rich history of catalyzing relationships and resources to advance God's Kingdom.  In 2011, Bridgeway, in partnership with several other churches and organizations, called Pete Armstrong to plant a second church in Manhattan.  Dwell Church reaches the people of the Bowery with the Gospel.  In 2012, Bridgeway laid the groundwork for the Matthew28 Network, a movement of churches working cooperatively with one another and the Holy Spirit to reach our region with the gospel through disciple-making.

And God isn't done yet...