In May, 2011, The Groveville United Methodist Church Celebrated 175 years of serving God and the Community. The church has been a focal point of the community since before 1830, worshiping in homes prior to the construction of a church building in 1836.
As part of our celebration we had, on Sunday, May 22, 2011, a service dedicated to the history of the church and the community. We had Pastors from the past speak in church, all recounting their time spent in Groveville. This was followed by a very nice luncheon prepared by our Kitchen Crew.
Fellowship hall was decorated with some great Memorabilia, photos of the Church, the community, the Fire Company, and the Mills & Businesses that made Groveville the place to live.
This celebration was continued on Wednesday, May 25, 2011 with an Old Fashioned Ice Cream Social. Two members of the community, and the church that have gone on to serve in the Methodist Ministry spoke and recounted how the church and the community helped to lead them down the path of life they have chosen, Elizabeth "Betty" Vaneekhoven of the Fieldsboro Methodist Church and Karl Kraft, who has served as Senior Pastor at several South Jersey United Methodist Churches.
There was also entertainment, Judy Mock and five gentlemen of the congregation, George Goldy, Al Herbert, Laddie Srahola, Jack Mock, and Dave Bergeron, performed "Hello Dolly".
Al Herbert - Dave Bergeron - Judy Mock - Jack Mock - Laddie Srahola - George Goldy
Reverend Fran Ballinger holds an Ice Cream Scoop used by Mrs. Naomi Rollings when she ran the Company Store for Morris and Company Mills. This was a Three Cent Scoop. Circa 1897.
A large variety of Ice Cream was served, everyone donated a topping, and a good time was had by all that attended, over one hundred from the church and the community. As the evening wore on it seemed no one wanted to leave, as groups chatted inside as well as outside on a nice cool evening.
A Brief History of Groveville United Methodist Church.1836 - 2011
In 1830, Groveville had only 10 houses in the entire village, but the good people met in their respective homes for worship led by Pastor Thomas Stewart of the Crosswicks Circuit. Then in 1833, a group of Christians led by John Rulon held their 1st meeting for the purpose of forming a committee to discuss the building of a house of worship. It was then to be called the Groveville Meeting House.
It wasn’t until May 25, 1836, that the plans were finalized at a meeting in the old school house on lower “Mill Road.” John Rulon was given a subscription book to be circulated from one Trustee to the other for the purpose of collecting funds.
At the same time, 1 acre of ground was to be purchased from Richard and Samuel Jaques to erect said church. John Rulon was to procure the deed for the same. Signed by: Enoch Knowles, George S. Green, Joseph Forman and John Rulon – Trustees.
Ezeck Middleton was engaged to build the pulpit and altar rail, of which each spindle was hand made with a lathe drawn by Ezeck’s horse. The cost of the pulpit and rail was $9.31. The altar was made from local trees. It might also be interesting to know that wine was used for the 1st Sacrament at a cost of 25 cents and bread for the cost of 5 cents.
On August 28, 1884, the Trustees met under the leadership of Pastor Blackeston to take subscriptions for the purpose of building a parsonage.
The amount required to assure success was estimated at $500.00. The entire project cost should not exceed $1,000.00 The Trustees agreed to buy the lot for the parsonage from John Clymer for $125.00.
On May 4, 1887, permission was given by William Morris to hold services in the Lyceum Hall while additions were being made to enlarge the church. The bid was awarded to J W. Bowers for the changes at a cost of $2,450.00, to be completed by December 1, 1887. Horse sheds were also built by Mr. Anderson at a cost of $55.00 for lumber, plus $5.30 for labor. These were situated where the Education Building now stands.
On August 15, 1887, the cornerstone was laid for the new church and on January 26, 1888, the steeple was erected at a cost of $77.00. The community progressed and on May 10, 1896 the Trustees voted to build 2 more rooms on the parsonage at a cost of $114.00.
During the next 10 years, Groveville quickly increased in population. The factories were working full time. The leaders of the community found it to their advantage to plan organized activates for our village.
On July 3, 1916, the Trustees, lead by the Rev. Charles S. Fees, voted to erect a one story building for the work of the church and community. They obtained a lot from Harry Clymer. J. W. Bowers was awarded the bid at a cost of $2,800.00. Then on September 10, 1917, the Community House was completed. The building served its purpose well as a meeting place for all religious and recreational activities.
With the completion of Groveville Gardens and new homes being built in surrounding areas, our little church bulged at the seams. In October 1956, under the leadership of Rev. David Seeland, a new Education Building was erected on the old Community House site. This was truly a Faith Project, with the estimated cost being nearly $100,000.00. With the initial loan obtained by the Trustees, mortgages were obtained at both Yardville and Bordentown banks. Each month became a struggle to meet out indebtedness. However, the years passed, and with each new pastor, the responsibility of reducing the mortgages was met.
With the help of God and the church community the goal was reached when Rev. Douglas J. Kersey was pastor. The mortgage was burned on September 19, 1974.The next major step was the renovation of the Sanctuary.
Planning began in 1996. The Trustees decided a Handicapped Accessible Ramp was needed for the church. This project was completed in 1997. Of equal importance was the restoration of the stained glass windows. This became a long term project as the renovation of the sanctuary continued. Under the leadership of Trustees Robert Plummer, Carl Frech, George Goldy, Al Herbert, Reade Holzbaur, Jon Kasper, Michael Matecha, Ed Sheldon, and John Wood, the $14,000.00 renovations were completed in 1999, except for the stained glass windows.
On October 5, 2008, with thankful hearts and giving the honor and glory to God, we celebrated the completion of the stained glass window restoration. The project was in the talented and capable hands of craftsman Joe Ratajczak, of Plowman Stained Glass. Mr. Ratajczak began the window restoration in November of 1996 and completed the work in February of 2008.
Under the present leadership of our Trustees: Gary Lippincott, Jon Kasper, Bonnie Adams, Trudy Atkins, Julie Baronowski, George Goldy, Al Herbert, Ron Robinson, and our pastor Rev. Fran B. Ballinger we look to the future of Groveville United Methodist Church with great hope as we continue to serve God and community. Whatever the future holds, we look forward to facing it with “Open Hearts, Open Minds, and Open Doors.”.
Adapted from the 1974 Mortgage Burning Booklet and the 1999 Restoration Booklet