The United Methodist Church was originally referred to as the Methodist-Episcopal church; as Methodism was a movement withing the Episcopal (Anglican) church. The founder of Methodism, John Wesley, was an Anglican priest who sought to reform his church, which he thought was not addressing the social or religious problems that existed in 18th century England.

You can read more about the history of our denomination here.

 

The Haddonfield United Methodist Church began in 1772 when Francis Asbury came to Haddonfield to preach. Meetings continued irregularly in Rowantown, Westmont, and Haddonfield until 1829 when the first actual congregation was formed. Thirty-two members met in a schoolhouse at Grove and Lake Sts. and shared it with congregations from other denominations. By 1835, this group of worshippers was able to construct their own one-room church, located off Kings Highway where the Methodist Cemetery is today.

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(artist’s rendition of the 1835 church off of Kings Highway)

 

Our congregation grew along with the town’s population. In the 1850’s Haddonfield became a stop on the railroad line and made the transition from small town to suburb. We were now 140 adult members with over 100 enrolled in Sunday School, reason enough to build a full size church in 1857 which still stands today and is known as the Fortnightly Building. Among the improvements listed were “stalls for horses and buggies”. Rev. Peter Cartwright spoke here in 1860 – Cartwright was known as an outspoken abolitionist and one who lost an election to Abraham Lincoln several years before.

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(1857 church — Fortnightly Building)

 

Several of the clergy went on to serve in the Civil War, and our cemetery has over 22 Civil War veterans buried in it. Not long after the church was built it became apparent that it was not well suited to the new inventions of electric lighting and indoor plumbing. By 1910 the congregation had grown to over 300 with an equal amount enrolled in Sunday School. Many now owned “horseless carriages” which had to compete with traditional buggies for parking spaces. The Rev. Pennington Corson directed the building of the Graystone Church in 1912, which was situated exactly where our present church stands.

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(1912 Graystone Church)

 

This church served the congregation well until 1955. One October night the church was filled with over 125 children rehearsing a play. The wiring, circa 1912, failed, resulting in a massive fire that destroyed almost all of the church. From 1956 to 1958 our congregation met in the auditorium of Haddonfield High School. Another Corson, Rev. Lynn Corson directed the building of a new church. Portions of our current building, including the sanctuary and offices remain from this construction.

 

As time went by it became apparent that the facilities here could not cope with a very large and active congregation — and the 44 outside organizations that use our building. The heating system was left over from the 1912 church, most upper floor rooms were unusable in the summer due to heat, the restrooms were inadequate, and most of the church was inaccessible to those who are physically challenged. Rev. George Morris led the charge to raise the funds to remove the older buildings and construct new ones, with the state-of-the-art facilities a congregation of our size requires. The newest portions of the church building were completed in 2008 and have been serving as the hub of our ministry ever since.