LEARN ABOUT OUR RICH HISTORY
The story of Evangel Church represents a rich history, which goes back to the year 1911, and the first family of Wilhelmina Simmat. She, her husband, children and a 16-year-old boy, named Carl Loenser, emigrated from Germany to the United States. When they came here from Germany they settled in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Just three years later in 1914, Mrs. Simmat began small group meetings in her own home. As the group grew the Simmat home became too small and they moved to a storefront building on Newpoint Road, Elizabeth, where the meetings were held.She encouraged Carl Loenser to go to Bible school. He began attending Bethany Bible College in Newark, and upon being ordained, Rev. Loenser became the first Pastor of the growing church.
Once again growth warranted a change in location, and in 1917 the congregation moved to another store building at 634 Elizabeth Avenue where services were still conducted in the German language. The church continued to grow and now because of the significant growth, Pastor Loenser looked to purchase a building. In 1924, on Palm Sunday, the first Ebenezer Church building on East Jersey Street, in Elizabeth was dedicated to the Lord. The name “Ebenezer” had been chosen because of the Scripture in 1 Samuel 7:12, “then Samuel took a stone ... and named it Ebenezer, Thus far has the Lord helped us.’” Services were now conducted in English.
On June 11, 1956, authorization was given by the Church Board to purchase land on Broad Street in Elizabeth. At this time the name of the church was changed to Evangel Church.” On November 5, 1961, the new church building at North Broad Street in Elizabeth was dedicated to the glory of God.
In the Fall of 1980 ground was broken for the present edifice in Scotch Plains. The new building was dedicated to the Lord in December of 1981, a beautiful, large Colonial building with a sanctuary seating 950. It had a number of Sunday School rooms, office area, and a gym for various fellowship and recreational activities.
To accommodate the growing congregation, an addition to the church was completed in 2004, increasing the number of Sunday School rooms, adding offices, a second kitchen, a multi-purpose room, and a beautiful chapel. Much-needed parking space was also added.
As of May 2013, Pastor Chris Morante became the Senior Pastor. He has been a blessing to Evangel Church, as he’s led the staff and congregation.
As Pastor Chris sought the Lord’s leading for the future of Evangel Church, the phrase ‘unify and multiply’ continually came to mind. After much prayer, the leadership agreed that to live out our vision of Changed Lives, Changing Communities, we would branch out into the surrounding area. After seeking the Lord for direction, the leaders of Evangel identified the Woodbridge area as a place they believed the Lord was leading us to launch another Evangel location. Through the Lord’s guidance, Pastor Chris connected with Pastor Leslie Samuel of Metro Park Church in Woodbridge and discovered that they were like-minded with a passion to reach their communities with the Gospel. Both pastors committed to earnestly pray and seek godly counsel regarding the idea of joining together as one church in two locations. Once again, after much prayer and careful consideration, the leadership of Evangel Church and Metro Park Church decided that it was indeed the Lord’s will for us to merge together. On June 9, 2020, both congregations confirmed this by vote, and Evangel Woodbridge was born! We believe that we are better together, and we look forward to how the Lord will use us to live on mission, across the street, and around the world.
In April 2021, Evangel will become one church in multiple locations with the launch of Evangel Woodbridge.
Over the past hundred plus years, the church has grown from a small German speaking church in 1914, to a large and diverse community with people from nearly every corner of the globe worshiping together in 2021. We are excited to see what God does in and through Evangel over the next hundred years.