Brookside Union Chapel
Our church was incorporated in 1894 as the Brookside Union Chapel, but for nearly forty years previously a Sunday School had met in the local schoolhouse and occasional “preaching services” had taken place. During those years, and for thirty-five subsequent years when weekly services of worship were held, the preaching was done by ministers of other churches, most often Presbyterians or Methodists from Mendham, Mt. Freedom or Morristown. By 1898 a building was in place on the site of the present church.
In 1929 The Rev. Andrew Zimmerman retired from a large Presbyterian church in Newark and moved to his summer home in Brookside. He instigated the congregation’s re-incorporation as the Brookside Community Church and recognized the need for the church to provide housing for the ministers who would follow him. Land was acquired behind the church and a small house constructed in 1935. It was enlarged in 1958 and again in 1982.
After 1929, Brookside Church was served part-time by a series of young men studying at Drew Theological School in Madison. There was little continuity, and without denominational affiliation it was difficult to attract ordained ministers. In 1954 the congregation decided to join the Congregational Christian Churches; that denomination joined with the Evangelical and Reformed Church to form the United Church of Christ, of which Brookside voted to become a part in 1962.
The church called its first full-time pastor, Donald MacKenzie in 1959. He was followed by Verne Arens (1977 to 1988) and Craig Anderson (1989 to 2010). Joel Biggers was called to the church in 2011.
In December, 1942 the original church building burned to the ground. Because of wartime restrictions, rebuilding was delayed, and services were held in the Community Club. The sanctuary and west wing of the present building were completed in 1949; the east wing–Scialla Hall–was constructed in 1959. Expansion became possible after 1994 when the building next door–now named the McKinnell Center–was acquired and renovated for office and classroom space so that in 1996 the sanctuary could be enlarged and a balcony added without changing the exterior walls of the church building. In 2005, the addition of the Anderson Wing to the west more than doubled the educational space of the church.