Church History

Historical Sketch

(Taken from the pamphlet prepared for the 110th Anniversary of the Memorial United Methodist Church of Beverly)

The beginning of a Methodist Society in Beverly took place in February 1867 as prayer meetings in the home of S.A. Dodge with a young preacher, Rev. A.J. Hall in charge. That first year there were 20 church members, 15 probationers, 136 pupils and 20 teachers in the church school.

Land was purchased on Railroad Avenue for $1300 to erect a church. For approximately two years until the church was built, meetings took place in the Town Hall; the rental charge was $7.50 per Sabbath. In 1869 a parsonage was built and Rev. J.M. Bailey and his family were the first to occupy it.

By 1886 the mortgage was paid and membership was about 40. The church grew, and in 1896 to 1897 the membership reached 250 with 100 young people in Epworth League. The property was then valued at $20,000. In 1916 the trustees decided a new church building was needed, so in November of 1916 the Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church was sold fof $10,000. The site chosen for the new church was at the corner of Cabot and Dane Streets. Everyone was busy with the war effort at this time, and materials and labor was costly, so it was difficult to raise funds. The new church, at the suggestion of Rev. U.L. Smith, should be a War Memorial Building. Therefore, a Cornerstone Fund was set up whereby any person or organization, whether connected to the church or not, could contribute $5.00 or more to the building program and have his name placed under th cornerstone. Sixty-five business firms, 33 Lodges and Clubs, and 300 non-Methodist local individuals made contributions. The total cost of the new church building including land, construction, heat, plumbing, stained glass window, furnishings, etc., was probably between $60,000 and $70,000.

The church was dedicated to the young men who gave their lives that "the world might be safe for democracy," including those from our church, Charles A. Lee, Percy F. Lyons, and Harold A. Perrigo. The memorial window was placed by the Delta Sigma Class.

In 1923 a parsonage was purchased at 354 Cabot St. It served the church until 1950 when the present parsonage at 9 Giddings Ave. was acquired. The sanctuary was renovated and a new organ installed in 1935.

Under the leadership of Rev. Wayne Moody, and the assistance of many of the laymen of the church, the new church school building materialized and was completed. The building consisted of ten classrooms in a two-story structure, electrically heated. Dedication was October 13, 1962. The Sunday School enrollment was 240.

In 1967 Methodism in Beverly was 100 years old.

With the leadership of Rev. William A. Campbell, the anniversary years was a memorable one. Special programs were planned for April, October, November and December. Our guest speakers at these services were Bishop James K. Matthews; Rev. William Ogle, District Superintendent and also former ministers including Rev. Emerson Smith, Rev. Walter Taylor, Rev. Willis Miller, Rev. Charles Shook and Rev. Wayne Moody. A banquet was held in April and an Anniversary Fair in November.

From 1970 to 1977 Rev. Richard W. Gray was pastor. Under his leadership the church grew 30% due to his Bible preaching and teaching. For the first time, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary Students were invited to minister in our church through their Field Education Work.

Our present pastor, Rev. John Pressey came to us in August of 1977 and suggested we celebrate our 110th anniversary, so with his help, and a group of church members, a special program was planned.