Stone, brick, stucco, shingle and white clapboard places of worship are found in abundance throughout the county, embracing the spiritual needs of people of different faiths and perspectives. From tiny traditional congregations to large fundamentalist services, from a pair of Catholic retreats to conservative and reform Jewish synagogues, from a Unitarian-Universalist fellowship to a Friends meeting house to a Tibetan learning center, the region offers many communities of faith, of renewal and places to belong.
Hunterdon was settled initially by people seeking freedom to practice their religion, and the county continues to reflect the diversity of those early colonists. New parishes and spiritual communities continue to be formed, existing churches are building or renovating, and more than 80 congregations dating to the 18th and 19th centuries continue to flourish. Catholics, who did not build their first church in Hunterdon until the middle of the 19th century, now operate 13 parishes serving more than 27,000 families. Jews, who had no temple in the county until 1940, now may choose from three. There is a Hebrew school and a Christian school, the Crossroads Christian Academy, operated by the Baptist church.
Worship services and education are only two of the community roles played by the county’s churches and synagogues – they operate day care centers, food banks and thrift shops, provide counseling services, offer temporary housing to the homeless, and sponsor many outreach programs far beyond the county’s borders.