In 1983 a meeting of the pastors and laypeople of the Presbyterian Churches in Paterson took place to consider what steps could be taken to strengthen the life and mission of Presbyterian churches in Paterson. These ten churches included First, the Hispanic Church, Third, Central, St. Augustine, Church of the Messiah, Eastside, Madison Avenue, Lakeview, and Westminster.
After two years of meetings, discussions and planning, aided by Robert Walkley of the Presbytery of the Palisades and Grace Braley of the Tri-state Metro Resource Center, the Council of Presbyterian Ministries in Paterson(CPMP) was formed and a written request to Presbytery, Synod, and the General Assembly for a five-year funding program was submitted. The request was forwarded to Presbytery which suggested that it be rewritten in the form of a two-year probe to develop a mission for the Paterson churches.
The probe request was approved by Presbytery and funded for two years by the local congregations, Presbytery, Synod, and the General Assembly, and was then extended another six months. The probe report was submitted and accepted by the Presbytery in May 1989. The possible merger of the Central, Church of the Messiah, and Madison Avenue congregations was among the recommendations.
During the period of the probe, Eastside Presbyterian Church (corner of Park Avenue and 29th Street) requested dissolution without the knowledge of the council. In 1988 Third Church worshiped with Lakeview as a separate body when the county purchased their property. As Lakeview became increasingly concerned about its' future, Presbytery appointed a Commission to resolve the cluster situation. Pursuant to the Commission's findings, Lakeview and Third Churches, were dissolved in October 1990. In the fall of 1990, First Church, realizing it would no longer continue, voted to dissolve and requested dissolution from the Presbytery. Madison Avenue, Central, and Church of the Messiah agreed to explore the probe report's recommendation for merger.
Negotiations for the merger of The Church of the Messiah, Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, and Central Presbyterian Church were conducted by representatives from each church, including an elder, a trustee, a deacon, the treasurer, and an additional member-at-large. The teams met consistently throughout 1989 and 1990 to prepare the merger plan. Joint worship services were held at each of the churches in the Spring of 1990, and an additional joint worship service was held in November 1990 at the Church of the Messiah.