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The Presbyterian Church of the Moriches

1 (631) 878- 1993
263 Main Street
PO Box 631

Center Moriches, NY  11934


Church History

Center Moriches, centrally located on the south shore of Long Island, New York, still reflects the warmth of a small village tucked upon the shores of Moriches Bay. The Presbyterian Church has been a vital force that has contributed to the well being and charm of the community throughout most of the village's history. The church building, with its tall, white, steeple and picturesque Victorian architecture, is still a distinctive landmark that is identifiable by land and sea.

The first white settlers were English and trace their settlement to a deed signed in the late 1600's. The Presbytery of Long Island formally established the parish on October 20, 1748. The parish extended from Quogue to South Haven, and was served by circuit riding preachers, educated in Yale, Dartmouth, and Princeton. Parishoners opened their homes for worship services. On November 6, 1755, Presbytery formally organized the parish of the Moriches, with Rev. Abner Reeve as pastor.

The Rev. David "Priest" Rose became pastor of the circuit in 1765. In 1775, he was one of the signers of a statement to approve the Resolutions of the Honorable Continental Congress. When the British won the Battle of Long Island in 1776, their response to the local churches was harsh and oppressive. Pastor Rose fled to Connecticut with his family for the duration of the Revolutionary War. He was highly regarded as a soldier during the war. At the war's end, he continued as our pastor and added to his pastoral duties by becoming one of the leaders in rehabilitating and rebuilding the southern section of Brookhaven Town. Several other men of our parish also served the patriots' cause for freedom.

The first church building in Center Moriches was erected in 1809 as a Union Meeting House for use by the Presbyterians and Congregationalists. This building was 30 x 26 feet and was located on the property where the present edifice stands. In those early years, the building apparently was used for town meetings, a school, and a social hall.
On November 14, 1831 this congregation was reorganized as a Presbyterian Church, with the Rev. Alfred Ketchum serving as its first "settled" pastor. In 1839, a new building was constructed that was 30 x 40 feet long and named the Union Church of Moriches. The Presbyterian Church of the Moriches was incorporated in 1849.
The church building was enlarged in 1861 to 56 feet wide facing Main Street with the addition of two side aisles -- one on the east and the other on the west -- each measuring 13 feet wide. The building was reconstructed into the present edifice in 1886. It was lengthened to 69 feet, to include the front vestibule with the steeple above it, a prayer meeting room (the present church parlor) and a Sunday School room. A porte cochere allowed passengers to disembark from their carriages to enter the vestibule. The frame of the original roof remains under the present roof, which is much higher than the old one. The bell originally used in the 1839 building was incorporated into the new belfry. An apsidal projection was also added at this time, at the other end of the church. The pulpit was originally located behind the present choir loft in this apse. The congregation built a Sunday School in 1931 measuring 30 x 56 feet. A kitchen was placed on the south part and a small basement with restrooms was dug under the kitchen. In 1994, a new Sunday School wing was built measuring 54 x 41 feet.

The first musical instrument used in the church was a melodeon purchased in 1852. The first choir is believed to have been formed about this time. In the reconstructed building, a small parlor organ was placed in the back of the church. The choir sat in the small balcony above the parlor. The first grand pipe organ was purchased from the Estey Organ Company in 1908. The organ console was housed in the wall immediately under the pipes onthe eastward side of the sanctuary. The pulpit was moved forward to its present location, making room for the organ and choir loft. The organ was refurbished in 1979. The grand pipe organ is a beautiful and prominent feature of our sanctuary. As an indication of its performance, it should be noted that the Moriches Choral Society performs Handel's Messiah here each year.

The world is vastly different from what it was in our beginnings, two hundred and fifty years ago. Yet, our aim remains the same: to "serve the Lord with gladness." We heartily welcome all visitors, both those who would like to explore the beauty of our church, and those who would like to experience the warmth of our congregation whose tradition stretches back 250 years.
May the beauty of our edifice, the heritage of our tradition, and the friendliness of our congregation resound in praise to Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

Adapted by cet from:
Winifred Thomason, Copyright R.W.S. Thomason 1986
Copyright © 2011 Presbyterian Church of the Moriches. All Rights
Church History

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