As part of the event this year they will be celebrating with the community the dedication of our new steeple. As many in the community know, Evangelical suffered damage during the storms of June 23, including the toppling of their steeple.
The steeple at Evangelical has been a landmark in East Greenwich since the 1950’s when it would ring out on Sunday mornings with music as a call to worship.
Immediately following our 11 a.m. worship service there will be a dedication ceremony on the front lawn of the church. Invited to attend are local community leaders, police, fire and rescue personnel that the church wants to thank for their tireless efforts and dedication to our community during those terrible days following the storm.
They also want to recognize and thank friends and neighbors of East Greenwich who came together supporting the enormous clean up and repair efforts in their home town.
The members of Evangelical invite all from the community to attend and stay for a time of fellowship and refreshments after the dedication in our fellowship hall.
On this, their 135th Anniversary they have invited Reverend Steve Young (retired) to be their guest speaker during our 8:30 and 11a.m. services.
Young grew up in East Greenwich and Evangelical United Methodist. He is the son of Ed and Jean Young.
Young gave his life to the Lord and served as Pastor in Alexandria, VA until retirement in recent years.
Evangelical United Methodist traces its history back to as early as 1750. When from 1750 to 1850 many German people settled in Eastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey.
Between 1855 and 1859 The Evangelical Association as the organization was known, extended its missionary efforts into Camden and Glassboro. The minister from Glassboro preached to the German speaking people in the Clarksboro area.
In March 1879 a congregation was organized and was incorporated in March 1880 as the Zion Church of the Evangelical Association.
Three days later they purchased a lot on Cohawkin Road and it is still their home today. Their first corner stone was from stones brought by the farmers from their fields to the site and in April of 1880 the corner stone of the first church was laid.
In the early years from 1880 to 1902 the Pastor would travel by horse and buggy from Glassboro for a morning service.
During the 1920 and 1930’s may changes in worship practices tool place, The German language had been used exclusively, but after WWI the German and English services were scheduled. By the late 1930’s the sermons were entirely in English.
With this came the change to the long standing custom of the men sitting on the right of the center aisle and the women and children sitting on the left. Now the family could sit and worship together.
Palm Sunday April 2, 1944 was a cloudy and rainy day. The morning services were held as usual. Scarcely one hour after the last worshipper left the alarm sounded – FIRE! It was an all consuming and destructive blaze. Valiant efforts by fireman were not enough to save the building and hopes seems as black as the beams of the ruined church.
The fire was not the end of Evangelical, but a new beginning. A meeting was held the next evening, where it was decided that since the build was damaged beyond repair, the old church would be torn down and they would build anew.
Sympathy, goodwill and gifts poured in as work began. With the generosity of the East Greenwich Fire Company the congregation continued to meet in the fire hall. It was at that time the invitation was extended to Zion Methodist Church to come join in worship. The combined worship continued until 1954.
The corner stone of the new church was laid on April 22, 1945 and on June 9, 1946 the new church with its landmark steeple was dedicated.
It was in November of 1954 the Evangelical Church merged with the Church of the United Brethren in Christ. Their name became Zion Evangelical United Brethren Church.
It was during this time two women’s groups were formed the Joy Circle and Chit Chats. More than 60 years later both are still vibrant groups within Evangelical today.
In 1955 additional land was purchased and by 1963 Evangelical had an expanded Sanctuary and a new education building for Sunday School classes.
In April 1968 a conference between the Evangelical United Brethren Church and the Methodist Church was held in Dallas, TX. The result of that conference was the merger of the two bodies to become the United Methodist Church.
With this merger Zion Evangelical was faced with a problem. There was already an older and established congregation in Clarksboro – Zion Methodist Church.
The congregation chose Evangelical United Methodist Church to denote and honor the church’s heritage and as a constant reminder of God’s mission for us.
Since that time the Church has purchased additional land for a recreational field, torn down the old parsonage to make room for a larger parking lot, purchased a newer parsonage and purchased a second parsonage for a youth /assistant pastor.
The church celebrates the generations of families who have made Evangelical their home, they built the physical foundation and set in place the moral foundation they enjoy today.
Today Evangelical United Methodist Church continues to do God’s work and follow his commandment in Matthew 28:19 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”.