Church History & Records

Leader: Bill Grindler

Bill is our church historian, who helps our congregation document its historical identity by keeping records in an orderly fashion so that it may preserve and build on its heritage. His keen interest in history and creativity in arranging displays and planning programs made him skilled in organizing, classifying, and preserving historical materials.


From time to time he offers his service in witnessing to the people in our community who have interest in and knowledge about the past history of our congregation. He preaches also on Heritage Sunday annually.


A Brief History of our Church


Methodism in Rutherford had a very inauspicious beginning.  During 1868 and 1869, Rev. A. Craig and Rev. E. V. King, Methodist ministers in Passaic, held class meetings in Rutherford in an endeavor to stir up interest in the Methodist denomination.  In December of 1870 the Park Methodist Episcopal Church was organized and Union Hall on Ames Avenue was rented as a worship space.  The church prospered until 1878 when financial reverses occurred and it closed.  Following this failure, the Rutherford Methodist Episcopal Church was formed on March 3, 1880, with a congregation of twenty.


After a sixteen-year period of using several locations throughout the borough as a place of worship, our current church building located at 56 West Passaic Avenue was dedicated on April 12, 1896.  In 1940 the congregation changed its name from Methodist Episcopal to the Rutherford Methodist Church, and in 1968 when the denomination merged with the Evangelical United Brethren, it became the Rutherford United Methodist Church.


Our twenty-seventh and current pastor is the Reverend Dr. Bo-Joong Kim who has served us faithfully since his arrival in 2000.


As a congregation we carry out many mission projects throughout the year. We have developed a second language service as we adjust ourselves to accommodate those increasing number of constituency in membership. We co-mingle beautifully in worship and fellowship as well. Some of our current missions are for AIDS support, the Rutherford Community Pantry, CUMAC-ECHO in Paterson, Neighborhood Center in Camden, and our special mission for this year is to helpWomen in Ministry throughout the world.


The Rutherford United Methodist Church extends a loving welcome to all.  We invite you to attend our worship services which are held every Sunday at 10:00 a.m. For more information concerning the services and events of the Rutherford United Methodist Church, do not hesitate to contact the church office at 201-438-4486.


A Brief History continues......


Our shortest serving minister was the Reverend William Day who served our congregation from the fall of 1894 until July 25, 1895. The shortness of his tenure is not a reflection on the abilities of Reverend Day, but was due to, as records indicate his sudden death.


This author has not been able to find Reverend Day's date of birth, but there was a William Day serving as minster at a church in Newark in 1856. If we make the assumption that these two William Days are the same person, (as William Day is not an uncommon name, but it would be surprising that two people who shared that name would be ministers in the same conference, within the same time period) and if we speculate that William Day was in his twenties in 1856, that put him in his late fifties to early sixties when he became our minister. So he was not an elderly man.
Further indications of Reverend Day's age can be found in the decision to let Ms. Day and the children stay in the parsonage until she could secure employment and separate lodgings. Church records also indicate a daughter of Reverend Day joining an organization within our congregation that was girls ages 12, 13 and 14.
Even though his time with us was short, and he served before our church was built, there is a reminder of him in our church. The central window on the west side of the church is dedicated in memory of Reverend Day. William Day was succeeded on November 4, 1895 by Charles Larew Mead (b. July 20, 1868 in Vienna, Warren County, NJ: d. May 17, 1941 Kansas City, MO.), who would have the most stellar career of any of our ministers. We were the 27 year old Meads first charge. He would receive his A.B. degree with honors from New York University in 1896 and is variously identified as marrying Eleanor M. Smith in either 1896 or 1898. Charles and Eleanor would have five children Winifred M., Eleanor C., Marion S. or as stated by one source Marloo, Charles L. and Robert S.
A unique occurrence during Mead's pastorate was the writing of a hymn in our parsonage. In 1898 the Mead's were being visited by Grant C. Tullar who was assisting with a series of evangelistic meetings. Tullar was an ordained minister who had given up the ministry for his true love of musical composition. He would spend his life composing and publishing books of hymns.
On this particular Sunday Tullar went along with the Meads on their rounds of visitations and they returned to the parsonage rather late. As such, they decided to have a supper of odds and ends before that evening's service. One of the items put on the table was an almost empty jar of jelly (flavor unknown). The Meads knew of Tullar's fondness for jelly and both declined to partake of this condiment when Tullar offered it them. As Tullar began to help himself he playfully stated, "So this all for me, is it?" The phrase, "all for me" immediately ignited Tullar's muse and he excused himself from the table, went to the piano and wrote the melody and verses for a song entitled, All for Me, the first lines of which were:
All for me the savior suffered
All for me he bled and died.

The song then had its first performance in our church that night, being sung by Reverend Mead himself However Tullar was not satisfied with his composition, and determined to revise the lyrics. The next day a letter arrived for Tullar (indicating that his stay was of long duration if he was receiving mail at the parsonage, as he resided in Connecticut) from Vineland resident Carrie E. Breck. Breck was a poet who frequently sent her poems to Tullar who would then set her words to music. Upon reading this poem entitled Face to Face or alternately Face to Face with Christ, My Savior, Tullar realized that these words were a perfect fit for the music he had written the prior evening and a new hymn was born. This hymn is not in our hymnal, nor had this author ever heard of it, but it is on an album entitled 100 Best Loved Hymns by the Joslin Grove Choral Society, so it is not a totally obscure work.
In 1899 the Meads would depart as Charles was assigned to a larger church in Hoboken. He would serve there until 1904, when he was reassigned for four years to Centenary Church in Newark. In 1907 he received his D.D. degree from the University of Syracuse. It is telling of the abilities of Reverend Mead that at the Newark Conference of 1908 when it was announced that he had been reassigned to First Methodist Episcopal Church in Hoboken, the woman of Centenary Church in attendance razed such a ruckus, that this event was a headline in the next days New York Times.
In 1909 the Meads would leave the state as Charles was assigned to First M. E. Church in Baltimore, MD. Later churches at which Reverend Mead would serve would be the Madison Avenue M.E. Church in New York City 1913-1914, and Trinity Church in Denver, CO 1914-1920. In 1920 he was elected bishop of the Denver area, a post which he would hold for twelve years. He would then serve as the bishop of the Kansas City area from 1932 to 1939, and the South Central Jurisdiction from 1939 until his retirement in 1940.
Other accomplishes of Reverend Mead were the creation of the Young Peoples Service at Ocean Grove, serving as the chairmen of the executive committee of the American Missionary Society, serving for six months with the Y.M.C.A. in France during World War 1,1 acting as host at the May 1939 conference that reunited the Northern M.E. Church, the Southern M.E. Church and the Methodist Protestant Church.2 In 1936 he delivered the benediction at the meeting in Topeka, Kansas at which Kansas governor Alf Landon was told that he was the Republican candidate for president that year.3 He was honored with an L.L. D from the University of Denver in 1920 and the University of Colorado in 1927.
Our minister with the most interesting background would be the Reverend Fredrick Chauncey Mooney D.D. who served as our pastor from 1920 - 1923. Fredrick spent the first six years of his life in an orphanage in Jersey City until he was adopted by Mr. and Ms. Hugh Mooney.
While Fredrick was attending Centenary Collegiate Institute (now Centenary College) in Hackettstown, his mother died. In an unusual move, his mother willed all of her funds to her genetic relatives. This left Fredrick's father unable to pay for his son's education. Fortunately for Fred, the Reverend George Whitney, president of the college, had become enamored of him and didn't want to see his education halted, so he offered to take Fred into his household and pay for the remainder of his education. This offer was accepted.
Once Fred had moved into the Whitney household, he was treated as a member of the Whitney family. He would attend Whitney family gatherings and would come to refer to Alice Whitney, George's wife, as his "good mother".
In what today would be considered an eyebrow raising event, and must have been down-right shocking at the time, on November 15, 1899 the 34 year old Fred married the 52 year old, ten-year widowed Alice Whitney.
It is unknown if they were still a couple during Fredrick's pastorate here, but he would have been 54/55 and she 72/73 upon their arrival.
* * *
One of our most popular ministers was Everett F. Hallock who at the time was our second longest serving minster delivering his first sermon on April 21, 1940 and serving until January 1949. Reverend Hallock most likely would have surpassed the then record of ten years of service set by his predecessor Edgar Schlueter, if he had not been appointed district superintendent. Late in his years of service Reverend Hallock earned his doctorate degree. He was married to "Kit" and had two sons, Donald and Elbert.
* * *
The Reverend Doctor Elmer C. Lewis was our pastor from February 20, 1949 until November 1954. A personal quick of Dr. Lewis was his preference to be referred to as Dr. You didn't call him by his first name or reverend, you called him Dr. Lewis.
Unlike many other ministers who made use of the furniture provided by the congregation for the parsonage, the Lewis' brought their own furniture with them, including his wife Elizabeth's grand piano; she was a highly skilled pianist, which occupied the bulk of living room.
During Dr. Lewis' time a distinctive event occurred, in that his eldest daughter (the Lewis' had two children, both girls) fell in love with and married one of our congregates. Recollections recall that Dr. Lewis preformed the ceremony despite the fact that he and his wife were not that pleased with the match, as the groom was significantly older then their 18 year old daughter.
* * *
Julius Logan Brasher (b. July 20, 1914) occupied the pulpit from February of 1955 to February of 1962. He is remembered for his singing voice as he would often perform solos during services. Reverend Brasher was popular as records indicate he surprised the congregation when he announced that he was leaving having accepted the ministerial position at the Westwood Methodist Church. By 1970 he was once again serving our congregation, only this time in the capacity of district superintendent.
You could say that Julius entered the family business as his grandfather, father, two elder brothers (Julius was the ninth of ten children) and one of Julius's sons were all ministers. Julius' father John Larkin Brasher an itinerant preacher deserves mentioning.
John Larkin Brasher is considered to be one of the foremost leaders in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries of the "Holiness Movement". The holiness movement is defined as "people who believe and propagate the belief that the sinful physical nature of humanity can be cleansed through faith and by the power of the Holy Ghost if one has had his/her sins forgiven through faith in Jesus." The exact method of achieving this state is not completely understood by this author.
It is believed that he preached at over 650 Holiness camp meetings delivering sermons that ranged in length from 30 minutes to an hour and a half John Larkin even founded one such camp in 1940, Brasher Springs in Gallant, Alabama, his home state. He continued to preach until his death in 1971 at the age of 102. A biography of him entitled The Sanctified South: John Larkin Brasher and the Holiness Movement written by his grandson (hence one of Julius nephews) John Lawrence Brasher, a professor of religion and philosophy, is available.
* * *
Roy Chester Green and his wife Edythe served us from 1971 through 1977. Prior to ministering at our church he served as pastor at the Rockaway Valley Church in Boonton Township (1948-1949); Browne Memorial Church, Jersey City (1949-1953); Bound Brook (1953-1957); Phillipsburg (1957-1965); Port Jervis (1965-1968) and Verona (1968-1971). After departing our church he would serve as pastor at First United Methodist Church, Englewood before retiring in 1981. He would pass away on February 16, 2006.
End notes
  1. At this time the Y.M.C.A. functioned in the same capacity as the USO does today. It provided morale, welfare, rest and recreation, and postal exchanges for American soldiers. It was also involved in the care of prisoners of war. In addition due to the small size of the U.S. military at the time, there was a dearth of chaplains. This was another area in which the Y.M.C.A. provided for. This author would make a logical guess that it was in this capacity in which Charles Mead served.
  2. This schism had occurred in 1845 over the issue of slavery. The Methodist Protestant Church was a splinter group formed in 1828 when its adherences were alarmed by the increasing power of bishops over congregational governance. By 1939 most of the reforms that this group had sought had be implemented.
3.      It is unknown if this indicates a personal relationship between Alf Landon and Charles Mead, as Landon was a Methodist and Mead as stated was bishop of the Kansas City area. Then again it could just a coincidence.
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