A Brief History


North Church is one of the oldest Methodist churches in New England. The Rev. Jesse Lee, an early circuit rider from Virginia, preached the first Methodist sermon in Connecticut in Norwalk on June 7th, 1789. In the spring of 1790, The Rev. George Roberts, one of Jesse Lee's assistants, preached in Manchester at the home of Thomas Spencer. In August, The Rev. Roberts met there with a group of dedicated laity and organized the first Methodist Society in town. The Society built the first Methodist church in Manchester on that site in 1794. The first Methodist Bishop, Francis Asbury, preached there, as did Jesse Lee. In warm weather the sermon was preached outside underneath the Old Methodist Elm.

In 1822, a building was constructed at the corner of Center and Main Streets in Manchester Center. In the spring of 1851, the congregation decided that the town would be better served by forming two new Methodist congregations. Seventy-seven members went North with the pulpit Bible. One hundred and sixty-eight members became the South Charge, which soon built a new church on their present site at the corner of Main Street and Hartford Road.

The Rev. George Brewster was appointed to serve North Church and preached his first sermon on April 18th in a schoolhouse located on the northeast corner of Main and Woodbridge Streets. His text was Acts 10:29: "Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me." That day, a congregation of 20 braved a storm of wind and snow to welcome the new pastor. The congregation grew quickly: A building committee was formed to provide a permanent home, and the new building for the North Methodist Episcopal Church was dedicated on October 15, 1851, at 447 North Main Street.

A hundred years later, in the 1950s, North Church felt the need for larger quarters, especially for the church school. In 1955 the present property was purchased. The cornerstone was laid in 1957, and the first service was held in the new building on September 28, 1958. The Rev. H. Osgood Bennett, who later served more than a decade as our Minister of Visitation, was pastor when the new church was built.

The church bell from the first North Church building -- cast in 1860 -- was exhibited on the grounds of the new church for many years. That is until the late 1970s, which brought a renovation program: The sanctuary ceiling was made higher; North Church also purchased a new organ, enlarged the church offices, added a church steeple, and installed an entry ramp for the handicapped. Herewith the church bell was moved inside; it peals three times at the beginning and end of each worship service.

Because of our ongoing growth, North Church has expanded yet again. In the summer of 2000, The Rev. Dr. William Trench preached in our newly enlarged, air conditioned sanctuary. Coupled hereto were new Sunday school rooms, a new organ, and a new entrance.

For over 200 hundred years, North Church has proclaimed the Good News of God in Christ Jesus, our Risen Lord. We welcome you to join us for the next 200!