Wethersfield United Methodist Church (1959)

June 11th, 2017 Posted in Churches, Colonial Revival, Wethersfield

Jesse Lee, a pioneering Methodist clergyman, preached the first Methodist sermon in Connecticut in Norwalk in June, 1789. He continued his journey through the state, preaching in various towns, and reached Wethersfield in March, 1790. There he preached the town’s first Methodist Sermon in the North Brick School House, now the site of Standish Park. Itinerant Methodist preachers continued to visit Wethersfield in the ensuing years. Starting in 1821, Wethersfield Methodists were served by a circuit preacher. As related in a Brief Historical Sketch of the Wethersfield M.E. Church (1882):

The early services were held in Academy hall, against the solemn protest of some of the leading men of the town, who no doubt thought they were doing God service by resisting what might have seemed to them as a pernicious innovation of the established creed of the State. So bitter was the feeling toward the Methodists that the place where the meeting was appointed was not only forbidden them, but the building was barricaded, and the means for lighting it were taken away. Great indignation was manifested among the people who had assembled, and an officer of the town was detailed to read the riot act and bid them disperse.

But those friends of the church in the early days were not men who were easily discouraged. Persevering in their purpose they gained access to the hall, and when Mr. Pease was about to open the meeting, an officer appeared at the door and ordered the people away under penalty of the law. Mr. Pease, holding the only candle in the hall, boldly replied, “We have not come here for any riot, but to serve the living God; let us pray.” The meeting then proceeded without further trouble, and proved productive of much good.

The town’s first Methodist Church building, now Temple Beth Torah, was erected on Main Street in 1824. The building, moved 26 feet onto a new stone foundation, was much enlarged and rebuilt in the Queen Anne style in 1882. The Wethersfield United Methodist Church erected a new church building, at 150 Prospect Street, in 1959. A 2005 addition serves as the church’s Family Life Center.

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