A Brief History Of the High Mountain Presbyterian Church

The History of Franklin Lakes dates to 1772, when it was organized as Franklin Township. It was named for William Franklin, son of Ben, appointed governor of the state in 1752 at age 32. In 1922 the Franklin Lakes borough was formed as a result of a controversy over the location of a new school building to replace the one destroyed by fire that year. The Franklin Lakes Borough is now an affluent suburban residential community with an estimated population of about 10,000 people. The town is 10 miles long and 4 miles wide. New York City is less than 20 miles by car on Routes 208 and 4.

The Presbyterian Church of Franklin Lakes was founded in 1960 and has been called by God to be a resource for all people. We have a history of passionate concerns for the needs of our neighbors-wherever in the world they may be. We are active in Paterson Habitat for Humanity, Hospital chaplaincy programs, Safe Space Camp, Bergen Center for the Developmentally Disabled, Center for Food Action, and Church World Service.

Our congregation extends far beyond the normal bounds of a church, including hundreds of people who look to us to be a resource in their lives. Our building is and instrument of our mission,open open to all in the community who are seeking.

During the 60's The High Mountain Presbyterian Church was a “counter-culture” church. Pastors have led us in societal concerns, and building a church that cares for neighbors.The organizing pastor of the church was Robert Strom, a dramatic and creative leader who lived in Greenwich Village and commuted to Franklin Lakes. He welcome “saints in suburbia, unhappy pagans, freethinking believers, religious doubters, lovers of God and humanity, and all ordinary people” to worship in the auditorium at Ramapo High School and in dispersed “house-churches” in members’ homes.

After a considerable internal debate the church decided to build a structure that would serve the community as well as the church. The sanctuary is a multipurpose room without pews. In addition to Sunday worshipers, the space hosts yoga mats, cots for the homeless and voting booths.  We also support a Men’s AA discussion group, Art group, Wyckoff YMCA daycare and nursery school, and a monthly art show.

Pastor from 1963 to 1976, Donald Purkey was very popular in both church and community. He went on to serve in a variety of ministries in churches and as pastor to the National Presbyterian Center in Louisville, KY.

The church’s third pastor was Ruth Ann Clark, who taught a feminist theology and a love of visual and verbal arts. She had an active counseling ministry and now works full-time as a counselor in CA.

Pastor Jack Lohr served from 1985 to 2008. He oversaw a renovation of the church building and a deepening of our spiritual life to complement our mission to others. He welcomed the increasing variety of spiritual practices at home in this community, including yoga and meditation.

From 2000 to 2008, Associate Pastor Esther Yung Sun Kim  helped us to become in fact as well as in faith, a truly multi-racial and multicultural church. Through English-language teaching ministries and a more Evangelical perspective in her work in membership outreach, she  broadened and deepened our spiritual community.

2008-2011, during the search for a new Pastor, Rev. Bob Tomlinson conducted 14 meetings in leadership training. Session conducted 8 listening sessions which summarized the congregational needs and expectations. The leadership has consistently advised the congregation that it is committed to serving the church and open to where God is leading us.
Rev. Louis A. Kilgore began his ministry at PCFL in March of 2011 and in September 2012 oversaw the merger of PCFL and The First Presbyterian Church of North Haledon form into the High Mountain Presbyterian Church of Franklin Lakes.  He presently ministers to a growing congregation here and our North Haledon properties now shelter The Restore Church, The Tabernacula Internacional de Adoracion, The North Haledon CO-OP, The Little Steps to Learning Daycare Center as well as a Girl Scout troop, Waist Watchers Club, Men's AA, North Haledon Rec Archery classes and a newly forming Self-Defense group.