Community UMC Celebrates Its
(Adapted from an article printed in Roselle Park Monthly newspaper – June, 2022, written and submitted by Milton Woodruff)
The First Methodist, Episcopal Church of Roselle was organized on September 22, 1871 by a small group of men and women who met in the district school on Westfield Ave. near Walnut St. This action culminated in a year of weekly Sunday afternoon services which were held first in private homes and later in the schoolhouse. The Rev. L.P. Dunn of Elizabeth was assisted by three other ministers who led these initial services. In 1871, the new church accepted the generous offer of Jeremiah Eighmie of a plot of land, 100 feet by 200 feet on the northeast corner of Chestnut Street and Grant Ave. A contract was signed for the construction of a chapel on October 19, 1872. The new facility was dedicated on March 9, 1873. The Rev. G.W. Terbush, a Drew Seminary student was the first pastor appointed on April 16, 1873. The Sunday school program was then organized, with Mr. E.C. Hamblen as superintendent, the second Sunday of July, 1873.
Guest Speaker, Rev. Brian Roberts gives an inspirational anniversary message.
Congregants from Hope International Ministries share beautiful music with us during our celebration worship service.
In 1903, a parsonage was built at 32 E. Grant Ave., where the ministers lived until 1914 when the present parsonage at 309 Chestnut St. was purchased. The name of the church was changed in 1903 to the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Roselle Park.
The need for a new and larger church began to be felt in 1906. On June 8, 1914, a contract was signed for the erection of the present church which was then dedicated on June 13, 1915. Subsequently, due to the growth of the church, an education wing was built and consecrated on November 24, 1957. A Master Plan was officially approved in 1967 to enhance the sanctuary by creating a center aisle, replacing the pews, creating a new chancel area, installing an electronic organ and a handicap accessible ramp. Later that year, due to a merger, the name of the church officially became Community United Methodist Church.
In 1967 under the leadership of Vera Gardener, with assistance from Ann Detlor, Adele Ruppert, Jane Griffin and others, the church began a preschool program. Mrs. Lois Paulson became the first director. Thanks to a dedicated staff and capable volunteers the school became a real success. Today it is a licensed facility, with certified staff for a diversified group of young disciples. Their motto and classes emphasize “that learning is serious business.” It is currently open to Preschool age students 2-5 years old under the direction of Sonya Leingang.
Olga Wilverding was instrumental in presenting the first re-enactment of the Last Supper on April 11, 1963 and it became a staple of Holy Week activities for many years. Early in 1990, Olga recognized the need and initiated the ‘Friday Nite Kids Club’ for children of those parents participating in the weekly Narcotics Anonymous meetings at the church. Volunteer congregants were recruited to serve in this vital ministry.
Representatives from Community PreSchool share with the congregation prayers they say each day!
Gina Berry reads a scripture lesson.
The church enjoyed women’s, couples and men’s groups and a highly active theater program. The last play “In the Beginning,” directed by Diane D. Kurz was performed on our stage in June 2004 with a cast of many from the church and surrounding community.
Ken McCauley led us to celebrate our 125th Anniversary in 1997 with several events prior to culminating with our festive celebration in October. More recently we had safely removed our church’s oil tank, repaired damage to our steeple after a lightning strike, refurbished the Fellowship Hall kitchen, repaired hurricane damage to the floor and basement and replaced a furnace in both the church and parsonage.
Over the years, CUMC has hosted many organizations in our facilities including Rotary Club, Scouts, Narcotics Anonymous, Asian Indian Christian Church, Hope International Ministries, and Iglesias Christiana Amore Agape to name a few. The church has a rich history of community involvement with participation in parades, public events, clean-ups and support of the Casano Center Food pantry and financial contributions to organizations which serve those with food insecurity.
We are a loving church following the mantra “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors” and are currently led by our pastor, Rev. Manuel P. Cruz, Jr. In 2022 the church celebrated its 150th Anniversary with a summer picnic, a concert held in the Sanctuary, and ending with a special celebratory worship service on October 16th with a delicious luncheon at Costa’s Restaurant.
Iglesia Christiana Amore Agape church honors Community UMC with a beautiful tribute and song during its 150th Anniversary celebration.