After at least a decade of discussions and panning, the Presbytery of Monmouth made a formal decision on Janualry 22, 1991, to plant a new congregation in Bayville. An aborted attempt was made to purchase property in mid-1993. In December 1993, Revs Ed and Myrlene Hamilton were called as organizing co-pastors of the new church development. Ruth Hardie, then a member of the Toms River Presbyterian Church and the Assessor for Berkeley Township, had made the commitment to be a part of the new congregation, and she was on hand to join the new pastors in the creation of the new congregation.
After a series of organizaional meetings, the pastors began holding redular Bible study meetings. The first non-advertised worship services began on Palm Sunday of 1994. During the summer of 1994, we began advertising in ernest. We had a booth at the county fair. In August we had a phone campaign, with the help of church members in out local area. We called about 13,000 homes. Our Grand Opening on October 4, 1994, was attended but about 150 people.
Morning Star has been nomadic from the beginning, and seeking a place to call home. We began meeting in the Nature Study Building (owned by the Townsip), then the Bayville Fire Hall, then Central Regional Middle School (with two weeks at the Town Hall and summers back at the Nature Study Building), and then in early 1996, we started worshiping at the Berkeley Township Recreation Building.
On March 23, 1997, we were chartered as a congregation by Monmouth Presbytery, with 75 members. In the summer of 2000, the Presbytery purchased 12 acres of property for our use, just off Grand Central Parkway. In 2002, after preliminary work was done by an engineer and architect, we determined that we had surplus property, and obtained permission to sell up to two acres. In April, 2005, we sold just under two acres. On june 19, 2006, site work began on the property, and the Froundbreaking ceremony was held on July 15, 2006. Worship in the new building began on August 4 and 5, 2007.
For several years prior to his death in January of 2004, Ed expanded his pastoral ministry, serving as an interim pastor to congregations in Nelman and Matawan, while still serving Morning Star on a limited basis, doing counseling and leading domestic violence education groups. Since his death, Myrlene has continued as solo pastor. On June 25, 2006, Myrlene was married to Eric W. Hess, Sr., who is an elder at Morning Star.
Morning Star’s commission from the beginning has been to reach unchurched people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It has been our attempy to do so by providing creative and authentic worship experiences, fellowship activities, and supportive educational and recovery groups for all ages. Out desire to reach unchurched people has led us to create a worship style that is inormal and upbeat. We often us dramatic sketches to help bring home a point. Kids are a vital part of worship and ministry.
(Last updated: 8-09-07)