The Reverend Dr. Kenyon (Ken) J. Wildrick

The Reverend Dr. Kenyon (Ken) J. Wildrick
06/14/1933 - 04/21/2024

The Reverend Dr. Kenyon (Ken) Jones Wildrick was born in Rahway, NJ, grew up in South Orange, NJ, married the love of his life, Nancy Mersfelder from Maplewood, NJ and celebrated 65 years of marriage with her.  Together, they raised three children: Catherine Bladt, Margaret Thomas and Kenyon Douglas Wildrick.  They also have four grandchildren: Matthew Wildrick Thomas, Christopher Kenyon Thomas, Kaitlyn Jones Bladt, and Andrew John Bladt.  Ken is also survived by his beloved (and fiercely protective) poodle, “Charlie”.

Reverand Wildrick graduated from Trinity College in Hartford CT., where he was president of the Delta Phi fraternity and studied under the tutelage of eminent economics Professor, John Candelette.  Upon graduation, he was pursued by the Rockefeller Foundation to help strengthen the Christian church by attending one year of seminary.  After he won Princeton Seminary’s preaching award at the end of his first year, he decided to become a minister.

After graduating with both a Master of Divinity and a Master of Theology degree from Princeton Theological Seminary, Ken accepted a call to become the Assistant Minister of the Community Congregational Church in Short Hills, NJ.  He quickly turned a youth group of six into a group of 125 and was soon called to be the Senior Minister of the church.  In his position of Senior Minister, Ken established strong relationships with staff colleagues, whom he considered to be his close personal friends.   During his 23-year tenure at Community Church, Ken tripled the size of the congregation, more than doubled the size of its physical facilities and soon found that his church had become the largest Congregational church in the Central Atlantic United States.  He served as President of the Presbyterian Homes of NJ and as a board member of Princeton University’s Center for Theological Inquiry.  But his proudest achievement was partnering with the Union Baptist Church in Montclair, NJ to help minority students afford to attend college to become the future leaders of tomorrow.  At its zenith, the program had 200 students in college.  One of Ken’s signature phrases was as follows: “The only significant theological question is not whether you believe in God, but whether God believes in you.”

Over the years, Ken received numerous accolades for his work in the pulpit.  He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Trinity College, and Princeton Seminary created a scholarship in his name which is awarded annually to the most accomplished preacher of the graduating class.  But the tribute he cherished the most was made upon his retirement.  A church leader was asked what made Ken such an outstanding minister.  The answer was “he listens”.

After Ken retired From Community Congregational Church, he was asked by the Congregational Fellowship of the Northeast to start a new church in Warren, NJ.  A significant number of former colleagues in Short Hills urged him to take on the challenge.  Together, and along with numerous Community Church parishioners, they raised the money, purchased the land, hired an architect and built a beautiful New England style church in Warren named Pilgrim Congregational Church. Dr. Wildrick remained the Senior Minister of the church for ten years and was ultimately succeeded by his close friend and colleague, the Rev. Virginia L. Scott.

Ken was an avid Yankees fan and a prolific baseball card collector.  He enjoyed collecting art and had a strong appreciation for nature’s beauty. He and Nancy enjoyed significant international travel and always eagerly anticipated spending the summer months at their lake home in Maine.

Ken is predeceased by his parents, Stanley Bogardus Wildrick and Ruth Adele (Jones) Wildrick, his brother, Stanley Donald Wildrick, and several cherished French poodles, each of whom he adored throughout his lifetime.  A service of remembrance will be held for Dr. Wildrick at Pilgrim Congregational Church, 105 Mountainview Rd. in Warren, NJ , on Saturday, June 15th at 1:00pm.  In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Pilgrim Congregational Church to establish a charitable fund in his name.  Private interment will follow at a later time.


Funeral Home:
Wm. A. Bradley & Son Funeral Home
A service of remembrance will be held at Pilgrim Congregational Church, 105 Mountainview Rd. in Warren, NJ , on Saturday, June 15, 2024 at 1:00pm.
Memorial Gifts:
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Pilgrim Congregational Church to establish a charitable fund in his name.
Bradley Funeral Homes
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