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Elmer United Methodist Church

21 South Main Street, PO Box 375, Elmer, NJ  08318
Phone:  856-358-0135     Fax:  856-358-9295
Email:  ElmerUMC@ElmerUMC.org

 

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HISTORY OF THE CHURCH

The exact date of the origin of the first Methodist Society in Elmer is difficult to determine.  The activity in our area of the people called Methodists dates as far back as the year 1772.  The history of our church is inseparably connected with that of the old Salem Circuit and the Friendship Society. In 1843, Broad Neck (now Olivet) and Friendship were set off from the Salem

Circuit and called the Pittsgrove Charge.

 

Years before there was any church property at Elmer there were several  Methodist Societies and an organized Sunday School. We do not know for sure where these groups met but past records imply it was in some public building or the homes of members. By 1834 there were five Sunday Schools within the area: Friendship, Pittstown, Hitchnertown, Broad Neck and New Freedom.

 

In 1844, a half‑acre of ground in Pittstown was purchased from Ellis Pedrick   and a parsonage was erected and deeded in trust to the joint board of rustees of the Pittsgrove Charge.  Apparently, this was the first property owned by the Pittstown Society.

 

In the year 1862, the first church building was started. It was dedicated on January 26, 1863.  Rev. Willis Reeves was the pastor of the Circuit at  this time. According to a clipping from "The Elmer Times", the first floor was the only part completed due to lack of funds. This was used for worship until 1868 when the main structure was erected and the cornerstone laid.  (Another account indicates the building was started in 1868 but not completed until 1870.)

 

On July 15, 1868, the first Trustees of the Pittstown Methodist Episcopal Church were elected.  Our one‑hundredth anniversary is therefore dated from these significant events that took place in 1868.

 

In the early 1870's, a decision was made to change the name of Pittstown to Elmer, in honor of Judge Jonathan Elmer, a prominent Bridgeton lawyer. The church then assumed the name Elmer Methodist Episcopal Church.

 

At first the church was in a circuit with Olivet and Friendship. In 1889, Elmer was separated from the circuit and made a separate charge. The Rev. Pennington Corson became the pastor.

 

At the Annual Conference in 1896, the Rev. Alfred Wagg was assigned to the Elmer church. On his first Sunday, the church was so full that in spite of extra seats in the aisle, some were forced to stand.

 

It was quite evident that a new church must be built. After much discussion, plans were made for a fundraising campaign, after which a building committee was appointed. An architect was engaged and after looking at several churches, it was decided to model the new church after the Berean Baptist Church in Bridgeton.

 

On October 1, 1896, Governor Griggs arrived by special train to take part in the cornerstone service.  The dedication of the new church was delayed due to the furniture being mistakenly shipped to Pennsylvania.  On an extremely hot July 11, 1897, Bishops Foss and McCabe and District Superintendent Wright preached at the three services held in the morning, afternoon, and evening to dedicate the stone edifice. With the addition of a heating plant, fixtures, and carpet, the church was completed at a cost of slightly over $29,000 At no time were services disrupted during the moving and building processes.The parsonage was moved to Church Street and Ira Hughes was given the contract to build a new one.

 

Through the years, many improvements have been made.  Two organs have been purchased. Extensive renovations have been made under the sanctuary that enabled an entire new area to be opened up for classrooms and a parlor. We have replaced the slate roof (1993), had the stained glass windows re‑leaded (1994), and renovated the kitchen (1995).

 

The Cornerstone Campaign to raise money for maintenance and improvements to the church was launched in 1996. The money was raised over a three‑year period and allowed the membership to go forward with many new projects. The nursery and library were moved and renovated. A handicap bathroom was installed on the second floor. Two new offices were created for the minister and church secretary. The church sanctuary was painted, drapes were replaced, and new lights were placed over the entryways and choir loft. New carpet was installed in the sanctuary and chapel. The church steeple and tower were repaired and painted and new steps were built on the Church Street side, On the ground floor new tile was installed in the Fellowship Hall and hallways. The parlor was redone with new furniture and flooring. Improvements of the parsonage consisted of replacing the roof and floors in the kitchen and basement. We also purchased a 15‑passenger van to be used by all the various groups in the church. In 2004, a parking lot was constructed in conjunction with the Christy Adams Funeral Home and a new state‑of‑the‑art sound/projection system was installed in the sanctuary.

 

The Elmer Methodist Church is continuing to move ahead in the new millennium. We have grown to our present position from beginnings of our forefathers and are providing spiritual needs to our community. We accept this rich heritage with gratitude and desire to do our part in serving Christ through various groups and ways of worship, such as Sunday School, the YCW Class, and numerous youth ministries:

 

Middlers (3rd through 6th grade), Junior and Senior High, Pioneer Club, WINGS, the Youth in Missions Team, Children's, Junior, and Middler Church. We have both men and women's Bible Studies as well as college‑age Bible Study groups. Women's Retreats and Conferences, Promise Keeper's for the men, individual Bible studies, Junior, Senior and Cherub Choirs, Malaga Camp and Vacation Bible School are many of the ways we have fellowship and worship. Many people in our church and community, with God's help, make this possible.

 

The Elmer United Methodist Church is here today because our forefathers had a vision and because of the revival fires that burned in the yesterdays. The church will only continue as we keep that vision alive and as we allow the revival fires to be kindled today.