In an October 2011 Patch article I wrote: "A late-1800s local newspaper noted that when a resident of Millburn (or a member of St. Stephen's Church) died, the church bells would toll once for each year of the person's life. I wonder how many people tried to bribe the bell-ringer to cut short some of that ringing when the inevitable day arrived for them." And, "St. Stephen's Church was - and is still - such an important integral part of life in Millburn that it embraced residents of all religious denominations within the walls of the church and its social hall, at a time when meeting places were scarce."
That bell almost had to toll more than 150 times for the beautiful rectory that has been standing beside the church for well over a century and a half. The gingerbread-trimmed rectory had just been completely renovated by the small congregation when the August 2011 Hurricane Irene sent sewage and water exploding throughout the newly-refurbished building. Hardworking members of the congregation saw their many, many days of painting, improving, and repairing wiped out in an instant.
They faced many thousands of dollars' worth of damage and the need to completely redo that which they just finished doing, but hidden additional damage led the church to face the possibility that the structure might have to come down entirely. That was not something they were willing to consider if they could avoid it, so with nothing to do but roll up sleeves and start all over again, the congregation began anew to redo. In between the painting, cleaning, and fixing they did, and still do, whatever they could to raise money for the thousands of dollars of repairs that were not covered by insurance. Plant sales, bake sales, car washes, and innumerable other events fill days and nights at the church. With an end finally almost in sight, and paint-splattered congregants working diligently to bring it back again, the rectory is almost finished--again.
A fraction of the original debt still remains and the Millburn-Short Hills Historical Society is working with the church to finally clear the debt off their books, by joining them in the first-ever Spring Tea and Tag sale at the church, at 119 Main Street in Millburn.
On Saturday, May 19, 2012, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., the lawn in front of the church will be abloom with flowery tea cups and teapots on tables with bright spring tablecloths and tiers of scones, cookies and delicacies served by the church youth group. Inside the building adjoining the church, furniture, kitchenware, vintage and designer clothing, primitives, collectibles, books and much, much more will be for sale at bargain prices.
Please join the historical society in supporting this historic and hardworking church and its members, by shopping at the tag/rummage sale and, even more so, by bringing your tag sale donations to the church this week.
Donations may be brought to the church at the following days and times:
Sunday, May 13 - 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Mon-Fri, May 14-18 - 9 a.m. to noon and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
We regret that we cannot accept: mattresses, upholstered furniture, used electronics (new and unused items are OK), or textbooks.
Thank you for helping us preserve this important piece of Millburn history.