About Us

The congregation and pastor of Old First Church welcome all who seek and love God and we invite you to join in the freedom and responsibility of an ecumenical fellowship. 

Old First Church includes members and friends from a variety of Christian traditions. Our roots are in the Baptist tradition as our congregation was originally established as the Middletown Baptist Church in 1688. In 1967, the church merged with the United Church of Christ (UCC), a denomination with historical roots in the Reformed, Congregational, and Evangelical Protestant traditions. At that time the congregation took the name of Old First Church.

An inclusive community, Old First Church continues to be a voice for religious freedom, separation of church and state, social progress, and Christian service.

Our Team

Joyce Antila Phipps

Ordained in the United Church of Christ, the Rev. Dr. Joyce Antila Phipps is a graduate of Yale Divinity School (M.Div.) and received her Doctorate of Ministry from Hartford Seminary in 2015. She is also an attorney, having received the Juris Doctor degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 1986.

Originally from Washington, D.C., Joyce went to Connecticut with her late husband, Robert William Phipps, who was a history professor at Southern Connecticut State University. Following her husband’s death, she helped to organize counseling groups for widows and widowers, which led her to attend YDS. She published a not so typical memoir, Death’s Single Privacy: Grieving and Personal Growth (Seabury 1973), text still used in social work schools and seminaries.

As a result of her work with single women returning to the workplace during the late 1970s and early 1980s and the wars in Central America, Joyce entered UConn Law School and represented victims of domestic violence and refugees seeking asylum.

Since coming to New Jersey, Joyce has served several churches and served as an immigration attorney for community based legal service organizations. Among other community activities, she was one of the founders of IRATE/First Friends, an immigration visitation program for persons who are detained, served on the Board of the Rutgers Campus Protestant Ministries, and is now on the Board of the New Jersey Council of Churches co-chairing the Public Policy Committee.  

Joyce deeply believes that as Christians we are called to follow the One who welcomes all to a community engaged in serving all people, caring for the earth and the resources God has given us, as well as affirming life in all its forms.

Robert Cioffi

Director of Music

Robert Cioffi, PhD, Old First Church's Director of Music, provides heavenly music for our Sunday worship services throughout the year. He is quite an accomplished musician and plays all of our sanctuary instruments––grand piano, clavinova and pipe organ. His talents not only include music but drama as well. He is very active in the Drama Department at County College of Morris (CCM) where he teaches and is the Artistic Director for CCM Shakespeare and Company. He holds advanced degrees from New York University, Seton Hall University and possesses a splendid sense of humor.

Church Secretary


The Moderator, elected by vote of the congregation, serves as the lay head of the church to coordinate all other church Boards and prepare the Annual Report to the Congregation. The Moderator is responsible for overseeing all affairs of the church.


The Board of Deacons/Missions meets monthly to assist the Pastor during worship. Deacons oversee the life and mission work of the church. The Deacons elect their own Chairman and Deacon Treasurer annually. The Deacons organize church activities, take care of congregational needs, maintain a prayer ministry and organize and carry out the mission work of the church.


The Board of Trustees oversees the “brick and mortar” needs of the church. Trustees elect a Chair each year. Trustees meet monthly to discuss church contracts and ensure that proper guidelines are met. Trustees handle church repairs and maintenance, rentals, insurance coverage, Memorial Garden interments and seasonal grounds care.

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Old First Church.

Worship on Sundays

10:00 am

Join us for fellowship and community potluck meal together.

We Gather for Worship to Engage

in Service for Humankind

     As people of faith, we are called to care for others and to connect with organizations serving God's world—working to preserve and protect the earth that God has given us and to grow a just and peaceful world.

     We offer multiple ministries so that you can find one that you feel most comfortable in. Please check out the OUR MINISTRIES page and feel free to come join us!