The Methodist Circuit thrived in Salem County
                                                                                               
Spreading The Word

From the records of the Quarterly Meetings of the Old Salem Circuit, the following churches located in Salem County were in existence prior to 1800:
   Salem: First
   Sharptown (the old Pilesgrove Meeting House)
   Centerton (Broadneck Society)
   Friendship (near Monroeville)
   Pennsville
   Auburn
   Pedricktown
   Haines Neck
   Perkintown (no longer in existence)
Haines Neck and Pedricktown may only have been classes or a Society, yet they were preaching places on the circuit and regularly contributed to the
circuit’s expenses.
At its inception, this Circuit included all of Methodism in what is now Salem, Cumberland, Cape May, Gloucester, Camden and Atlantic Counties. Between
September and November 1790, the circuit was divided into the Salem and Bethel Circuits thus removing from the Salem Circuit most of Gloucester and
Atlantic Counties and probably all of Camden County. Cumberland and Cape May Counties remained on the Circuit until after 1800.
The term preaching place or station is used in the Salem Circuit Book records many times for while there were some places on the circuit that had church
buildings, like Salem, Port Elizabeth, Centerton and Hurffville, others met as classes or societies to individual homes. In time, most erected churches.
The First United Methodist Church on Walnut Street in Salem was established in 1774. The cornerstone for their circuit building was laid in 1887, but is the
third building in the history of the church. The first building was built in 1784 at Margaret’s Lane (now known as Walnut Street).
In 1859 the Broadway Methodist Church was erected. The congregation believed that two churches could minister to more people in Salem.
The Methodists claim Benjamin Abbott one of their most gifted spiritual leaders. He was, in his day, one of Salem’s most distinguished sons. From the
Chesapeake to the Hudson, he was famed as an evangelistic orator.
Benjamin Abbott died August 14, 1796 and his tombstone in the Methodist Cemetery on Walnut Street in Salem is carefully preserved and marked with a
veteran’s flag. Abbott served in the Colonial Army in the American Revolution.
In the year 1790, a very enthusiastic group of people formed what became the Ebenezer Methodist Church of Auburn. It was on a very hot August
afternoon in this year that Francis Asbury stopped at the Seven Stars Tavern for refreshment. The people gathered from the countryside for miles around
and he exhorted them to continue their worship and after preaching a soul-stirring sermon, he appointed one of his preachers to look after the new field.
A church was built in September, 1790 near Sculltown (Auburn) in Gloucester County, on the Oldmans Creek Road. A cemetery now marks the spot where
the first church stood. The records show that the New Ebenezer Meeting House was officially incorporated, and certification filed on September 3, 1840.
Ground was purchased for eighty-four dollars in Salem County where the Mary B. Farley School stands.
In 1899, a church was built in the village of Auburn and then moved approximately one year later to where it stands today.
The history of Methodism in the area and in and around Pedricktown started with meetings being held in Perkintown about two miles south of Pedricktown.
These meetings were first held in the home of John Strimple. In the early 1800’s a frame building was erected and then in 1832 a brick church was built
with services being held there until 1884. The Perkintown Church contained many of the prosperous farmers from the surrounding areas.
As the population of Pedricktown Boat Landing grew, so did the need for a place to hold religious services. The first Methodist meetings in the town were
held in the old schoolhouse.
A church building was badly needed and was finally built in 1860. On August 1, 1860 the cornerstone was laid with the dedication being in the same
conference year, probably 1861. The church was named in honor of her first pastor, Rev. Samuel Mickle Hudson.
Through the years Hudson has been blessed with many dedicated clergy and laity who have brought it to this present day. Many revivals have been held
and many souls have been led to God at her altar. Outreach programs have sent God’s Love out to neighbors near and far.
Methodism was introduced into the Pennsville community in 1775 by Reverend Benjamin Abbott. Meetings were held in people’s homes until the homes
were not large enough to hold the growing congregation. A small log church building was erected at the junction of South Broadway and Fort Mott Road.
The log church stood until 1811 when it was replaced by a larger building and a rapid increase in membership necessitated the building of a two story
frame building in 1842.
By 1880 it was evident that a new church would be needed. Pennsville’s rapid growth caused difficulties between the “towners” and the “farmers”, with the
“towners” favoring a Pennsville plot and the “farmers” wanting to remain at the Fort Mott Road area. A compromise was made. A Chapel was built on the
present church property which held morning and afternoon services. Evening services were held at the Fort Mott location.
By 1885 Trinity had outgrown both the Chapel and the Fort Mott building and in 1886 a new church was built on the Chapel lot.
In the 1940’s a Parish House was erected and in 1958 a new Sanctuary was completed. In 1966, the church buildings were completed as you see them
today.
Trinity Methodist Church has roots that are deep. They have been strengthened through the years by dedicated men and women who have sought to
carry the message of salvation throughout their community, even to the ends of the earth.
On Sunday, October 30th at 3:00, these churches and others who made up the original Old Salem Circuit will meet at the First Methodist Church on
Walnut Street in Salem for a Celebration of Methodism especially the rich heritage of its early days in Salem County. The spreading of God’s Word, the
valiant determination of the traveling preachers who changed lives and hearts and the faithfulness of a people.

Information for this article was compiled from information supplied by the above churches, Rev. Robert Steelman, Thomas H. Bowen and Ben Rainear.

Hometown News
Oct/Nov 1994