Sunday, December 27, 2020

How old is your church? Every church is different on how old they think their church is

The Prospect Park Methodist Church at 8th and Lincoln Aves. about 1948 before it was remodeled. In 1979 the church celebrated it's 100 anniversary even though the church started in 1877. I made the correction in the churches 125th anniversary book.

How old is your church?

Note: Every church selects their own date on how old they are. Whether it be first meetings, the church being chartered, the church's cornerstone being laid, or the churches dedication etc. Every church is different. As a historian, to me, a churches age starts when the first meeting to organize the church happened.

Some church histories can be very confusing. Most church histories tend to be very good, EXCEPT for age and that is what I want to talk about today. I'm not going to mention any churches by name. Some churches date their beginning from when members first began to meet to start the church, some churches use the date when they were chartered, and others when the church was officially dedicated. Some churches use the date when the cornerstone of the building itself was laid. The difference between the first couple meetings and the time a church is dedicated can be years. 
  When a church is chartered and recorded at the Delaware County Courthouse can be years apart. One church was chartered 3 years before the church was built while another church was never charted till some 50 years after it was erected. My church was dedicated in 1879 and the 100th anniversary was held in 1979, even though newspaper accounts clearly showed meetings to organize the church were held in the summer of 1877 and services started shortly afterward. As a historian, I always have thought when a church first starts meeting to organize, is when the the church "officially" starts, but many people do not buy into that theory. A church I was just researching is a perfect example, it started prior to 1836, bought property and built the church in 1838, BUT their anniversary date is 1840. WHY?  because that is when the church was finally dedicated. 
 Even when a church first began meeting can cause heated discussion. A church recently celebrated their 150 anniversary but county deeds show the church received the property the church was built on and still stands on 5 years before their anniversary date. 
 I was doing research on a Chester Pike church and they had everything, the first minute books, trustee books etc. all you could ever want. Well, almost everything. I was looking in the Chester Times Newspaper for something else and came across in article about the church. The church had started having meetings for over 6 months before anyone ever thought to take notes. Lastly, some churches seem to pick a date right out of the blue. I have run into several churches, whose anniversary date of it's founding matches none of the above criteria. They just picked a date. The church had been built and there were meetings but nothing special happened on that date. I finally figured out it was the year the church finally got their first full time pastor. It was just a date they picked. That simple.

The picture below I posted several weeks ago. It is a mansion in Chester looking for a location and information. Thanks Keith

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