Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Methodist Churches: Part 1

I've written before about what I call "the Great Collapse" of the Methodist denomination of the late sixties and early seventies. Several churches, some of them with quite long histories, closed and consolidated with other congregations. I put it down to changing demographics. The Wasp middle-class Islanders who attended these churches were fleeing to New Jersey and other distant regions. I've tried reaching out the archivist for the Methodist church, but with no luck so far. I'm going to have to give it another try if I'm going to get a better understanding of just what happened all those years ago. 

Asbury Methodist Church - Richmond Avenue

In 1771, at the age of 26, Francis Asbury volunteered to bring Methodist teachings to America. He preached his first sermon in the colonies at the Methodist congregation in Woodrow, Staten Island. Eventually he became the leader of the Methodist church in America. On a regular basis, he preached on Staten Island, for over forty years. Asbury Methodist Church was founded in 1804. The present building, now home to SonRise Faith Church, was built in 1849. It has seen several major renovations over its 160+ years. Originally, it didn't have a bell tower, for example. The Advance did a short piece on it a few years back you can read here.

According to Leng and Davis, Asbury Church was founded in 1802. For decades it was the only Methodist church on the North Shore. I don't know what year Asbury disbanded and I don't know specifically which, if any, congregation it merged with. As the project progresses I'll, I hope, find out.

Italian Methodist Mission - Harbor Road

I don't know anything about this, other than mission churches to immigrant groups were standard for mainline denominations back in the day. Olivet Presbyterian started life as an Italian mission established by Calvary Presbyterian and I've written about the Italian Episcopalian church on Jewett Avenue. I'd guess that at some point the church closed and any remaining Italian congregants joined Summerfield Methodist Church just a few blocks up Harbor towards the Terrace. Today, it's part of Pentecostal Tabernacle

Summerfield Methodist Church - Harbor Road
Summerfield was founded in 1839 so the Methodists of Mariner's Harbor didn't have to travel all the way to New Springville anymore. This building went up in 1869. Of all today's churches, it's the only one still a Methodist church.

Kingsley Methodist Church - Cebra Avenue

Incorporated originally as the Tompkinsville Methodist Church, this building was built in 1855. Enlarged in 1870, it became known as Kingsley Methodist. It closed in 1967. Since then it has been a private residence, a non-denominational church, and a Mormon center.

Trinity Methodist Church - Delafield Avenue
The roots of the congregation of Trinity Methodist Church went back to 1837. This beautiful church was built in 1912 after the previous building, erected in 1869, burnt down in 1909. The Methodist congregation, once huge, was disbanded in 1970, its members joining other congregations. For the next 35 years it housed Congregation Agudath Achim Anshe Chesed, which had previously been located on Jersey Street.
Sadly, this building was lost to fire in November, 2015. The Advance, once again, has a good article on the church and its history.


Bette Sohm said...

Hi, your brief history of Methodism is a little off. You can find better info here:
and just generally rooting around the website.

Don't know who you have been trying to contact for more info. The best place to start would be with the NY Annual Conference Archivist. Contact info on this page:

Asbury did not disband (we use the term discontinue, when a church ends. It either discontinues, and the people wander off to where they will, or it merges.) Instead, it merged in 1972 with Dickinson to form Asbury-Dickinson.

I do not think Kingsley was incorporated as Tompkinsville. It was simply known as that until 1853. It was incorporated in 1901 as Kingsley. In 1967 it did not close. It merged with Grace and Trinity to become Faith. The congregation settled on worshiping at the Grace location in Port Richmond.

Trinity did not disband in 1970. It merged in 1967 with Grace and Kingsley.

Dickinson Merged in 1972 with Asbury.

Graniteville was organized in 1908, Incorporated 1910.

Christ UMC is a merger of Asbury, Dickinson, Graniteville, and Holy Trinity. Currently there is the English speaking congregation and Christ Korean UMC also worships in that building.

There were some chapels that came and went also.

Hope this helps.

The Wasp said...

This is terrific information. Thank you for telling me the correct term. I did reach out to that archivist and she was very helpful, supplying me with some good stuff and pointing me in the right direction for when I want to do this in more depth. Doing these preliminary posts, I've been relying on the Leng and Davis books and what's easily discoverable, mostly from the SI Advance on line.

Glenn said...

The church at 183 harbor rd was Pentecostal from day one. As far as I know, my grandfather, Michele Pietrocola was a founder and my parents were married there in 1953. My late father said the building was sears and roebuck and he helped construct it.