Zarephath, New Jersey: Wikis


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—  Unincorporated area  —
Zarephath is located in New Jersey
Location within the state of New Jersey
Coordinates: 40°32′14″N 74°34′39″W / 40.53722°N 74.5775°W / 40.53722; -74.5775Coordinates: 40°32′14″N 74°34′39″W / 40.53722°N 74.5775°W / 40.53722; -74.5775
Country United States
State New Jersey
County Somerset
Township Franklin
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes
FIPS code
GNIS feature ID
Pillar of Fire chapel in Zarephath, New Jersey
Pillar of Fire, November 25, 1914

Zarephath (pronounced ZARRA-fath) is an unincorporated area of Franklin Township in Somerset County, New Jersey, United States. It is the communal home to the Pillar of Fire Church and houses their Christian K-8 school (which closed in June 2009) and college, publishing facilities, farm and radio station WAWZ-FM. It is named after Zarephath, the place in the Bible where the "widow woman" sustained the prophet Elijah. Zarephath is a group of buildings located between the Delaware and Raritan Canal and the Millstone River.



The community began as a farm owned by Peter Workman Garretson in Franklin Township. Peter married Caroline Van Neste Field and she became a follower of Alma Bridwell White and donated the land to the church after meeting White. The church assumed all debts associated with the mortgage on the property, which were considerable, and in return it was agreed the church would take title to the land upon repayment of the mortgage. Zarephath takes its name from a phrase in 1Kings17, because White saw a parallel with the moving to a farm and the story of Elijah and a widow.[1]

Pillar of Fire Church

The church takes its name from a phrase used in Exodus 13:21: "He guided the Israelites on their escape from Egypt by giving them a pillar of fire to light their way across the dark wilderness". It was founded by Alma White in 1901 and originally called the Pentecostal Union. The church moved to Franklin Township in 1907 or 1908. The church was also located in Denver, Colorado. The name was changed from The Pentecostal Union to Pillar of Fire officially in October of 1917.[1] The buildings on the church grounds were built by members of the Zarephath community, as the church stressed self-reliance. The church farmed a portion of the property.


The Zarephath Bible Institute was founded in 1908 as a "training school for missionaries, preachers, and teachers."[2] It was later renamed the Zarephath Bible Seminary.[3]

On September 11, 1912 the Zarephath Academy opened with an enrollment of fifty students, five of them ready for high school. "At this time, the doors were formally opened to all who wanted an education under Christian control, high school as well as elementary." It was later renamed Alma Preparatory School. The first high school graduation exercises for a class of four, were held at the Pillar of Fire Temple on June 12, 1916. The school was accredited by the New Jersey State Board of Education on November 14, 1916.[3]

Informal college level classes were held starting in 1917.[3]

Alma White College was chartered in 1921 and was closed in 1978.[4][5] In 1923 the Ku Klux Klan provided funding for the school, allowing it to become "the second institution in the north avowedly run by the Ku Klux Klan to further its aims and principles."[6]

[7] The first two Doctor of Divinity degrees, one honorary, were conferred in 1927.[8] Arthur Kent White received an honorary one; and A. M. Young received the second. Young at one time was the Grand Kaliff of the Ku Klux Klan in New Jersey.[9][10]

Somerset Christian College was established on March 23, 2001. Somerset Christian College is licensed by the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education to grant a two-year Associate Degree in Biblical Studies. Starting in the Fall of 2006, they offered a 4-year degree.[11]

Flood of 1999

Hurricane Floyd in September 1999 brought a record flood to the areas adjacent to the Millstone River, which is located behind the Zarephath compound. Despite maintaining a twelve foot flood levee, Zarephath was inundated with water from the nearby river and Delaware and Raritan canal. The flood crest was a record one, over three feet higher than the previously recorded crest in the river basin. The water level in the Zarephath compound was seven feet at the height of the flood.[12] The church's damage from Floyd was estimated at $2.5 million.[13]


  • Pillar of Fire Cemetery, Zarephath
  • WAWZ (Star 99.1 FM); Zarephath, New Jersey; Owner: Pillar of Fire - Religious oriented music radio station

Biblical references to the ancient Zarephath

  • 1 Kings 17:9-10. "Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food." So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, "Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?"
  • Obadiah 1:20. This company of Israelite exiles who are in Canaan will possess the land as far as Zarephath; the exiles from Jerusalem who are in Sepharad will possess the towns of the Negev.
  • Luke 4:26. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon.


  • Francis A. Capell (1907-1980), the publisher of a right wing newspaper called the Herald of Freedom, and author of the pamphlet: The Strange Death of Marilyn Monroe, which theorized that Marilyn was killed by Communists.[14] In 1943, while an investigator for the War Production Board, Capell was fined $2,000 for "agreeing to take a gratuity from a clothing manufacturer."[15]

Further reading


  1. ^ a b William B. Brahms (1998). Franklin Township, Somerset County, NJ: A History. ISBN 0966858603. 
  2. ^ "Mission, Vision and History". Somerset Christian College. Retrieved 2009-12-13. "Zarephath Bible Institute (ZBI) was founded in 1908 as a training school for missionaries, preachers, and teachers. Over the years, it has prepared many students to serve in various occupations in numerous Christian ministry organizations." 
  3. ^ a b c Gertrude Metlen Wolfram (1954). The widow of Zarephath. Pillar of Fire. "In June of 1917 our people made the acquaintance of an elderly German professor, who came to Zarephath offering to conduct classes on the college level for such persons as might care to attend them. Several other classes were organized under some of our own professors, and all were conducted according to regular college schedules, meeting requirements as to hours, numbers of classes, and character of work done. In May of 1921 application was made to the Stale Board of Education at Trenton, New Jersey, for a college charter, which, after due inspection and consideration, was granted, and Alma College became a reality. In order to distinguish and avoid confusion in connection with another Alma College, the name was subsequently changed to Alma White College." 
  4. ^ Robert McHenry (1983). Famous American women. ISBN 0486245233. "... in 1921, Alma White College in Zarephath ..." 
  5. ^ "Closed & Renamed New Jersey Colleges & Universities". New Jersey. Retrieved 2009-12-11. "Closed: Alma White College, 1978" 
  6. ^ "Klan Will Sweep Colleges, She Says. Princeton Will Soon Be Vitally Interested in the Order, Woman Bishop Asserts. Back From Ku Klux Tour. University Paper Declares Institution Should Not Be Influenced by Specious Arguments". New York Times. November 1, 1923. Retrieved 2009-12-16. "That the Ku Klux Klan is on the verge of 'sweeping through the colleges of the country as it has swept through the masses,' was the assertion of Bishop Alma White, founder of the 'Pillar of Fire,' a religious sect and the head of a small institution called the Alma College, fifteen miles north of Princeton at Zarephath, in an interview published this morning in the Daily Princetonian." 
  7. ^ "Klan Buys College Close to Princeton". The Harvard Crimson. October 31, 1923. Retrieved 2009-07-06. "Bishop Alma White, the founder of the Pillar of Fire Church, and an author of various religious works, is President of the institution under the new regime. In an interview for the Princetonian today Bishop White deplored the present indifference of the undergraduate to the Klan and predicted that in the near future "it will sweep through the intellectual student classes as through the masses of the people."" 
  8. ^ "Zarepath Colony Institution in New Jersey Confers High Honors for First Time.". New York Times. June 19, 1927. Retrieved 2009-07-06. "For the first time in its history Alma College, at Zarepath, near Bound Brook, N.J., conferred the degree of Doctor of Divinity during its commencement exercises, which took place last week." 
  9. ^ Investigation of Un-American Propaganda Activities in the United States. United States Government Printing Office. 1944. "I am former grand kaliff of the State, which is vice Grand Dragon. ... I was made grand kaliff the day Mr. Bell was made grand dragon and I don't quite ..." 
  10. ^ David Mark Chalmers (1987). Hooded Americanism: The History of the Ku Klux Klan. p. 323. ISBN 0822307723. "Arthur Bell and Rev. AM Young, the New Jersey Klan secretary were unceremoniously ousted from the Klan despite their long years of dedicated service. ..." 
  11. ^ "Mission, Vision and History". Somerset Christian College. Retrieved 2009-12-13. "ZBI became [sic] Somerset Christian College on March 23, 2001 when the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education issued the license to grant the two-year Associate in Biblical Studies degree. In 2006 the college was approved to offer four-year Bachelor of Arts degrees." 
  12. ^ "Hurricane Floyd Devastates Pillar of Fire International Headquarters". Pillar of Fire Church. September 17, 1999. Retrieved 2009-12-13. "Pillar of Fire International Headquarters at Zarephath in Somerset, New Jersey, lies on the Raritan River, which was reported to have crested at ten feet above its banks following more than ten inches of rain brought in by Hurricane Floyd. The main campus, including Zarephath Bible Institute, Zarephath Community Chapel, and WAWZ Christian Radio, was under seven feet of water and by Friday morning was under 100% evacuation. Temple Christian Day School, the Pillar of Fire elementary school, is located in nearby Bound Brook, which was inundated by the out-of-banks river." 
  13. ^ "DEP Aims To Update Its Flood Maps". The Star-Ledger. November 9, 2004. Retrieved 2009-12-13. "When the floodwaters left by Hurricane Floyd in September 1999 receded from the Pillar of Fire religious complex in Zarephath, Somerset County, they revealed more than just the millions of dollars in damage." 
  14. ^ "The Smear". Time magazine. March 5, 1965.,9171,839290,00.html. Retrieved 2009-12-12. "... and Francis A. Capell, 57, of Zarephath, N.J., publisher of a rightist newspaper, Herald of Freedom, and author of a pamphlet entitled The Strange Death of Marilyn Monroe, which suggests that Marilyn met death at the hands of Communists. In 1943, as an investigator for the War Production Board, Capell was fined $2,000 for "agreeing to take a gratuity from a clothing manufacturer."" 
  15. ^ "United States v. Wilson". United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Retrieved 2009-12-12. "The defendant, formerly an investigator in the Compliance Division of the War Production Board, stood trial in the District Court on an indictment charging him in four counts, under the usual conspiracy statute, 18 U.S.C.A. ? 88, with conspiring with Francis A. Capell and Richard C. Atherton, also investigators, to accept bribes in violation of the statute, 18 U.S.C.A. ? 207.*fn1 Capell and Atherton had been indicted earlier, but, having pleaded guilty, were not defendants in this case and appeared as witnesses for the government. After a trial to a jury, defendant was convicted and sentenced on all counts, with sentence suspended on all but the first count. Defendant appeals, assigning several errors in the charge, insufficiency of the evidence to support the verdict, and misconduct of the prosecutor." 

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