Monday, December 10, 2007

First Methodist Episcopal Church

Former First M.E. church building, 2007. Now in use by another congregation(copyright)

Boston Daily Globe November 1, 1909

Parish Society 50 Years Old Methodists Rejoice at Jamaica Plain. Semicentennial Services Held at the First Church. Historical Sermom by Rev Dr James Mudge.

Yesterday was a day of rejoicing for the parishioners of the First Methodist Episcopal church, Jamaica Plain, for it marked the semicentennial of the founding of the society.

The pulpit platform was decorated with chrysanthemums and the enlarged choir, under the direction of Mrs H. Louise Margot, organist, appeared for the first time wearing surplices. The soloists were Mrs Samuel Gould and Miss Elizabeth Rose. The services were in charge of the pastor of the church, Rev Harry C. Wilson.

It was 50 years ago when a few devout men and women organized a Methodist society in Jamaica Plain. This society was called the Rock Methodist church, for the first pulpit was a rock near Chestnut av, Jamaica Plain, and the auditorium a grove nearby. It was later incorporated as the First Methodist Episcopal church, Jamaica Plain, and the substantial little stone church, corner of Elm and Bishop sts, in which the society worships today, was built.

The celebration of the founding of the church is to be in the form of various services and a banquet during the week, and a meeting is to be held next Sunday afternoon at the rock on Chestnut av, where the first service was held.

At the morning service yesterday Rev Dr James Mudge, editor of Zion's Herald, a former pastor of the church, told the story of the life of the church in an historical address.

In part Dr Mudge said:

"Methodist churches, as a rule, begin in one of two ways. We are not absolutely sure just where the initiative came in the case of Jamaica Plain, but it looks as though it was a layman, Brother Pardon W. Case, who had come to occupy a house on the top of the hill on Chestnut av, who made the first move. Probably on his invitation Dr John H. Twombly, then pastor of at Hanover st, got out to this distant suburb, some time in September, 1855, and preached the first sermon in Brother Case's house. For three or four years occasional services were held and an out-of-doors place of worship was fitted up by Mr Case in a grove around a rock near his dwelling.

"Early in 1859 the little flock had gathered sufficient strength to hire Association hall on Centre st. Here the opening sermon was preached Feb 13, 1859, by Rev George Bowler, then pastor at East Cambridge. Gershon F. cox was the first minister of the church in 1859 and 1860.

"In 1867 Presiding Elder Thayer began t urge the building of a church in Jamaica Plain. In 1868 Thomas W. Bishop was sent here to build a meeting house. He had just graduated from Harvard university. A board of trustees was organized in 1868, including Jacob Sleeper, Isaac Rich, John O. Bishop (all of Bromfield-st church), William Blakemore, John Blakemore, Edwin Ray and three others. These men contributed $3000 and $6000 was contributed by the Unitarians of Jamaica Plain. The Methodists were even invited to occupy the Unitarian church during the summer.

"The church was built, largely through the untiring energy, financial skill and courage of Rev T.W. Bishop. It was constructed at a cost of $22,000 and was dedicated with a sermon by Dr J.A.M. Chapman, then pastor of Grace church Oct 5, 1870. The salary of the minister was $700, and there was a debt of $6000."

Dr Mudge stated that at present there are 104 communicants of the church, and of this number only 25 have been connected to the society for 15 years or longer. The list of ministers who have served the church follow: [26 names].

At the evening service there was special music by the choir and the sermon was delivered by Rev A.C. Knudson, PhD of Boston university school of Theology. There was a large attendance.

Richards, L.J. 1899 (copyright © 2000 by Cartography Associates)
David Rumsey Collection

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