The Reformed Church of Newtown

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Reformed Church of Newtown Complex
RDC Newtown Bwy Elmhurst jeh.JPG
Reformed Church of Newtown
The Reformed Church of Newtown is located in New York
The Reformed Church of Newtown
Location 8515 Broadway, New York, New York
Coordinates 40°44′23″N 73°52′42″W / 40.73972°N 73.87833°W / 40.73972; -73.87833Coordinates: 40°44′23″N 73°52′42″W / 40.73972°N 73.87833°W / 40.73972; -73.87833
Area 1.5 acres (0.61 ha)
Built 1831
Architectural style Greek Revival, Vernacular Greek Revival
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference #


Significant dates
Added to NRHP April 23, 1980
Designated NYCL July 19, 1966

The Reformed Church of Newtown is a historic Reformed church located in the Elmhurst neighborhood in Queens, New York. The church was first established by Dutch immigrants in 1731.[2]

Current building[edit]

The original church building was replaced in 1832 by the present sanctuary, which is a designated landmark building.[3] The cornerstone of the original building can still be seen in the foundation of its present structure. As the needs of the church and community changed, staff was added, structural improvements were made, and the preaching shifted from Dutch to English.

In 1956 Newtown celebrated her 225th Anniversary, and received greetings from President Dwight D. Eisenhower. For that occasion, Reverend A. Nelson Doak compiled a brief history of the parish[4] that ended with words expressing his hope for Newtown’s future:

“May her doors never be shut. Keep them wide open with a welcome to all humanity: saints and sinners, rich and poor, black, brown, yellow, and white.”

The Reformed Church of Newtown Complex was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.[1][5]


In 1980, as Elmhurst was abruptly changing complexion, Rev. Doak’s hope for Newtown began to be fulfilled. His successor, Rev. David Boyce, perceiving the changing needs of the community, began a service for Taiwanese immigrants[6] and later one for the increasing population of Tamil-speaking Indians the area.

Now, the originally Dutch church had services in English, Taiwanese, and Tamil. The Tamil ministry was crippled by the untimely death of their minister, Rev. Paul Theodore, but some Tamil members were incorporated into the English service and continued in meaningful service with the congregation. Meanwhile, the Taiwanese ministry, led by a dynamic and multilingual evangelist Rev. Bill H.C. Lee, soon outnumbered Newtown’s “American” congregation, as the membership more than doubled from 1981 to 1982.[2] The Taiwanese had been brought in, not as a distinct congregation, but as an additional ministry under the authority of Newtown’s leadership. As full members, they voted and soon had seats on the Newtown Consistory. Although there can technically be only one “senior pastor” in an RCA parish, Rev. Boyce, recognizing the unique circumstances of the day, had innovatively elevated Lee to be an equal “co-pastor” with him. In 1995 Newtown reached wider still, when Rev. David K.T. Su, who was being groomed to replace the aging Bill Lee, instead began a third worship service in Mandarin Chinese, the lingua franca of the Chinese world. Attended by both younger Taiwanese immigrants conversant in that dialect, and by the mainland Chinese steadily increasing their numbers across Queens, the new ministry saw steady growth. When Rev. Boyce retired, the “co-pastor” Lee became officially the senior pastor while Rev. Ronald Bechtel, son of RCA Missionaries to Taiwan took up the parallel English congregation. By now, the second generation of the Taiwanese members, having been reared in Queens, had mostly assimilated into the English ministry, making of it a unique mixture of aging Caucasians and youthful Asian-Americans. Evangelistic outreach coupled with Newtown’s location in the most ethnically diverse zip code in Queens a continued to draw all kinds of people into Newtown’s English ministry. The Reformed Church in America strives to fulfill the scriptural idea of being “a house of prayer for all nations,” and at Newtown that vision has been realized. On any given Sunday there is a Taiwanese service, a Mandarin service, and a multi-cultural service in which Greeks, Latinos, Asian-Indians, Pacific Rim Asians, Russians and “traditional Americans” worship together in English. Upon Bechtel's resignation to plant a church in Long Island, Rev. James Long served the English ministry in this vibrant church until the end of 2009.

The Reformed Church of Newtown has also produced several Reformed Church ministers in the recent past years: Rev. I. Douglas Estella (ordained 1986) and the Rev. Ben Lin (ordained 1997), both sons of Newtown Church.


Newtown is part of The Reformed Church in America, a fellowship of congregations called by God and empowered by the Holy Spirit to be the very presence of Jesus Christ in the world. It is one of a thousand churches in a million ways doing one thing---following Christ in outreach to a lost and broken world so loved by God.


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. 
  2. ^ a b Kleiman, Dena "Immigrants Spur Renaissance for Queens Churches; A New Melting Pot: The City in the 80's A series of articles appearing periodically." New York Times (1857-Current file). New York, N.Y.: November 15, 1982. pg. B1, 2 pgs Document types: article Section: Metropolitan Report Source type: Historical Newspaper ISSN: 03624331 ProQuest document ID: 118630567 Text Word Count 1600 Document URL: (sunscription). Retrieved March 19, 2007
  3. ^ Peterson, Iver "Battle Looms on Landmarked Churches; Preservationists Fear Charter Changes Will Undercut the Law Battle Looms Over Landmarking Church Properties" New York Times (1857-Current file). New York, N.Y.: December 3, 1989. pg. R1, 2 pgs Document types: article Section: Real Estate Source type: Historical Newspaper ISSN: 03624331 ProQuest document ID: 115494182 Text Word Count 2486 Document URL: Retrieved March 19, 2007
  4. ^ "225th marked by Queens church." Publication title: New York Times (1857-Current file). New York, N.Y.: Dec 3, 1956. pg. 34, 1 pgs. ISSN: 03624331 ProQuest document ID: 94300957 Text Word Count 160 Document URL: (subscription) Retrieved March 19, 2007
  5. ^ Virginia Kurshan, Joan R. Olshansky, and Elizabeth Spencer-Ralph (September 1979). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: Reformed Church of Newtown Complex". New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Retrieved 2011-01-12.  See also: "Accompanying five photos". 
  6. ^ Kleiman, Dena "A Surge of Immigrants Alters New York's Face." New York Times (1857-Current file). New York, N.Y.: September 27, 1982. pg. A1, 2 pgs Document types: front_page Source type: Historical Newspaper ISSN: 03624331 ProQuest document ID: 119549069 Text Word Count 1924 Document URL: (subscription). Retrieved March 19, 2007

External links[edit]