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Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Community Presbyterian Church of Malverne celebrates its centennial
By Rossana Weitekamp
Rossana Weitekamp
Pastor Fritz Nelson outside the Community Presbyterian Church of Malverne

There aren’t too many things synonymous with Malverne that can claim to be older than the Village itself. There are even less that can say they contributed to Malverne’s growth as a Village. The Community Presbyterian Church (CPC) of Malverne, which turns 100 this year, is one of those rarities and an integral part of Malverne history.

The Church originally came to be due to the vision of Alfred H. Wagg, a vice-president and general manager of the Amsterdam Development and Sales Company. Mr. Wagg, seeking to build his fortune, discovered Malverne, which was “at that time a barren country district without a name,” as he wrote in the Town & Country edition of the American City magazine’s July 1916 issue.

As Wag began develop the land, he learned he needed several things that would attract city people to countryside of Long Island. “He was out to make his fortune and realized that his great utopia would need a spiritual anchor,” said Pastor Fritz. Mr. Wagg may have also been influenced by his father, who was a minister. So on February 24, 1914, an organizational meeting was called for the purpose of forming The First Church of Malverne, which was to become a non-sectarian organization. The meeting was attended by people bearing the many names already known by most Malvernites today: George Cornwell, Charles and William Rider, Samuel Vorhees, Jeremiah Woods, Alfred Wagg and others.

When the church was first built, it had difficulty becoming a central focus of the neighborhood. There was continual disagreement among its worshippers as to whether the church should be affiliated with a denomination. As a result, the church split in two: The Stuart Avenue Presbyterian Church, which was located at the corner of Hempstead Avenue and Stuart Avenue, and the First Church of Malverne. The Stuart Avenue Church, however, never took off and in 1933, re-joined The First Church and was renamed the Community Presbyterian Church. Interestingly enough, most of the Church’s records from 1914 and 1933 are gone.

“It wasn’t really until after World War II that the church took hold in the community,” said Pastor Fritz. A need for the larger church began to surface and an extension was put on the church at a cost of $50,000.

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