by Grace Hayes
In 1790 the first Methodist sermon was preached in Wethersfield by Jesse Lee in the North Brick School House, now the site of Standish Park. For several years itinerant preachers came to Wethersfield until 1821 when the Rev. William S Pease was appointed as circuit preacher for Wethersfield, Newington, New Britain, and Kensington. Early services were held in Academy Hall, but this was protested by some of the leading men of town from the already established Church of New England.
In 1824 the cornerstone was laid for the first Methodist Church building in Wethersfield, still in use now as temple Beth Torah, at 130 Main Street. Extensive structural changes were made in 1882 when the building was moved 26 feet onto a new stone foundation. The Baptist Church in Wethersfield graciously allowed the Methodists to worship in the Baptist church Sunday afternoons during this work. The original 1824 brownstone cornerstone now serves as a bench near the memorial garden at the Prospect Street church.
A Sunday school addition was built in 1913 but a fire destroyed this and damaged the sanctuary in 1941. Services were held in the Welles School during repairs to the sanctuary and the Sunday school portion was rebuilt twice as large. This space was soon outgrown and 11 acres were purchased at the site of the present church.
In 1959 worship began at the 150 prospect Street location. In 2005 the cornerstone was laid for construction of the Family Life Center. This addition, including a large kitchen and youth room, facilitates many church and community programs. A contemporary Morning Glory worship is held in this space every Sunday morning. It is extensively used by our youth and preschool as a recreation space and by adults for fitness training. Large groups are hosted overnight for community volunteer opportunities, such as UMARMY, United Methodist Action Reach out in Mission for Youth. Community events such as Red Cross blood donation drives, town voting and mission fund raising dinners are held here. Classroom space downstairs is used for Sunday school as well as our preschool program, open to the public.
Wethersfield United Methodist Church is much more than the structures built as a place of worship and faith formation. Led by our present pastor Albert Hahn, we continue to reach out in mission. The church has longstanding relationships with North Methodist Church in Hartford, to share worship and fellowship, and with South Park Inn, Interval House and Plimpton House ,also in Hartford. Members continue a close working relationship with a medical clinic established in the mountains of Fercy, Haiti, donating supplies and traveling there to work with the Haitian people.
About the Author: Grace Hayes