155 Years of Service To The Delanco Community

Before Rev. William Jeffries, pastor of the Methodist Church in Beverly, visited the village along the Rancocas Creek and Delaware River in 1855 for the organization of a Methodist Society, the people walked to Beverly for the morning service. Brother R. W. Lawrence preached in the afternoon at Parson’s boarding house located at the end of Union Avenue along the Delaware River.  Rev. Jeffries formed the Methodists he found there into a class meeting, with Micajah Dobbins as the leader.  The members recorded were Micajah and his wife Mary, the John Stocktons, the Richard Wilmertons, the John Butchers and Charles Gray.  In 1856, R. L. Barvis built a home and moved to the new village and soon took an active part in the work of the church. Dobbins and Barvis arranged for an “extra meeting” during the winter of 1857.  A gracious revival resulted and 27 people were added to the group.  On Feb. 25, 1858, following due notice of the meeting, the society came together and voted to take the name of Methodist Episcopal Church of Delanco.
            On Sept. 27, 1858, it was decided to build a church.  The Delanco Improvement Company and Caleb Clothier each contributed $100 for the church lot.  In the summer of 1859, the church was erected and furnished at a cost of $1,653.20.  The benches were procured form the old Coopertown Church and the altar railing from the Bridgeboro Methodist Church.
            The first members of the Board of Trustees were Samuel Lowden, Micajah Dobbins, John Stockton, Joseph Yerkes, Richard F. Wilmerton, Richard L. Barvis and Paul Jones.  John Stockton was the first janitor at a salary of $10 a year.
            During 1875 and 1876, many improvements were made in the building.  The belfry and steeple was built and the bell was installed as a gift of the Sunday School. The first church parsonage was built during the years 1890 - 1893.  In 1898, during the pastorate and leadership of Rev. George W. Ridout, the Delanco Camp Meeting began as an outgrowth of our church.
The growing church enlarged its facilities in 1902.  A new church was built at a cost of $12,000 right over the old one and the former sanctuary was converted into a Sunday school section.
            In honor of its first class leader, Micajah Dobbins, the name of the church was changed in 1909 to “The Dobbins Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church”.  The Episcopal was dropped at the time of the world wide unification of the church in 1939.
            During the church’s celebration of its one hundredth anniversary [1955] a new social room was built between the Church and the Del-Meth House [old parsonage] with the front extending over the whole educational unit.  The total rebuilding budget was $25,000.
In 1968, the Methodist Churches became a part of the merger with the United Brethren and our church is now known as “Dobbins Memorial United Methodist Church”.
The parsonage located on the corner of Union and Burlington avenues was completely renovated in 1981 and, during the pastorate of Rev. Steven Elliott, the parsonage’s third floor and kitchen were gutted and remodeled. 
            On Sunday, October 24, 2010, the church was recognized by the Delanco Historic Preservation Advisory Board for 155 years of service to the community. A historical marker, inscribed 1855 – Delanco Methodist Church, was placed outside the entrance of the sanctuary.
            Dobbins Memorial United Methodist Church has had a long and successful ministry in the community.  The Lord has wondrously blessed its effort in making known God’s power in the salvation of many souls.  The present church has a great heritage and is well equipped to meet the needs of the present day.  It is the fervent prayer of the people that its best days are still ahead.

The above information was obtained from the following sources: The Delanco Story-Its Past and Present, 100 Years of Methodism in Delanco [1855-1955], Anniversary Bulletin dated 10.13.1985, Historical Notes Revised for the 135th Anniversary
—Alice M. Smith, Church Historian

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