A History of Our Church
The Havertown United Methodist Church dates from January 1, 2022. It is the result of the merger of Hope United Methodist Church and Union United Methodist Church. Their origin goes back to the 18th Century.
Some details of the church history. Submitted by Barbara Drake
The Methodist church in the Philadelphia area: St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church, the oldest Methodist Church in continuous service in America, was founded in Philadelphia in 1769 by missionaries sent from England by John Wesley, the founder of Methodism.
In 1790, members of St. George’s church who lived in South Philadelphia built a place of worship near their homes for use in bad weather.That worship space became a separate church in 1835 called Ebenezer Methodist, and the congregation moved to several locations in Philadelphia before moving to Haverford Township in 1941.
In 1801, another group of members of St. George’s left the church and became the United Society of People Called Methodist, and they met in the building that Benjamin Franklin had built in 1740 for the preaching of English evangelist George Whitefield.The building was also used as a school for the education of poor children. By 1802, the school known as the Academy had grown into the University of Pennsylvania.The university was no longer using the 1740 building, so they sold it to the Methodists, who established the Methodist Episcopal Union Church in Philadelphia, which grew into a large and prominent church. They moved to several locations in the city, taking the 1740 cornerstone with them on each move.
Methodism began in Haverford Township in 1831 with the founding of Bethesda Methodist Episcopal Church in the Manoa area. As the community grew, Llanerch Methodist was founded in 1898, later changing its name to St. Andrew’s.Brookline Methodist Church was founded in 1916 in an abandoned one room schoolhouse on what is now Earlington Road and was able to buy land to build a church at 200 Brookline Blvd in 1922.
In 1941, Bethesda Church had outgrown its building and was looking for land nearby for a new building.At the same time, Ebenezer Methodist was selling its building in West Philadelphia and planning to move to Haverford Township.Bethesda and Ebenezer churches merged, bought land at 1108 Steel Road, and used the name Ebenezer Methodist.
In 1945, Union Methodist in Philadelphia was losing members as they moved to the suburbs. A prominent member moved to Brookline and began talks with the trustees of Brookline Methodist about merging the two churches under the name Union Methodist Church in Brookline. The merger brought money to help add a new sanctuary in 1948 and the historic cornerstone of Union’s 1740, 1833, and 1888 buildings, which were embedded in the entryway of the church addition.
As Haverford Township continued to grow, a 4th Methodist Church named Trinity was started on Eagle Road at Maryland Ave. in 1956. Through the 1960’s all 4 Methodist Churches thrived and focused on Christian education for children and adults and mission work locally and globally. Over the next 40-50 years, societal changes affected churches with gradually decreasing membership as folks moved further from the city to newer communities with more modern houses.
In 2004, Trinity Methodist sold its building to a Korean congregation and merged with Ebenezer Methodist to form Hope United Methodist Church. The St. Andrew’s congregation decided to close rather than merge, and most of the remaining members went to Union Methodist. In 2019, Hope and Union began sharing a minister and by 2021 were in talks about merging. The COVID-19 pandemic that began in early 2020 necessitated the use of zoom worship, which enabled members of both churches to get to know each other.This smoothed the path to merging as Havertown United Methodist Church in 2022. Because important ministries are being carried out in both the Union and Hope buildings, they are now the Union and Hope campuses of Havertown United Methodist Church.