ST. STEPHEN’S UNITED METHODIST CHURCH 
OUR HISTORY 
1867 – 2017
 
John Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church
     The town of Delmar can trace its history back to 1859, when the Delaware Railroad was extended to the southern boarder of Delaware, at which time the first streets and a few houses were built by Elijah Freeney and Winder Hastings. It was not until the summer of 1867, however, that Thomas Melson, a recent settler in the town of one store and twelve houses, became interested in having religious services. Until then, the residents of Delmar, who attended services, usually walked more than a mile to attend church at Union Methodist Church. With the support of others in the town, Mr. Melson wrote the Rev. Vaughan Smith, the presiding Elder, inquiring about the possibility of having services in Delmar. Rev. Smith replied, “If Mr. Melson could get any of the preachers to preach at Delmar, it would be alright.” After receiving a request from Mr. Melson, the Rev. Joseph Cook, the minister in charge of the Salisbury Circuit, wrote that he would come himself to preach in Delmar on Wednesday, September 4, 1867.
    
     On that appointed evening, Rev. Cook preached the first sermon in Delmar on the front law of the home of Mr. M. M. Hill, who offered the use of it even though he “was not at that time a member of the church.” Services were held there regularly at the home of Mr. Hill until January 26, 1868, when the last sermon was preached before an overflowing congregation. The membership that had outgrown Mr. Hill’s house built a “plank-tent” church that was 19 by 30 feet on property owned by Elijah Freeney on the west side of First Street and 100 feet south of State Street. The church was named, “John Wesley Methodist Episcopal Chapel.” On Sunday, February 16, 1868, the building was dedicated and the Rev. Joseph Cook preached. 
    
     By 1871. the chapel, which had been build of cast off plants from the saw mill, had begun to deteriorate to the point that rains and high winds one night, damaged the building. 
 
 
Delmar Methodist Episcopal Church
     Rev. Joseph Dare, the first minister to live in the town of Delmar, conducted Camp Meetings in woods owned by Elijah Freeney in 1872; within six months of his arrival, a new church which would seat 100 people was started at the northeast corner of First and State streets, the site of the present church. The building was dedicated November 30,1872, with the Rev. Enoch Stubbs preaching at the morning service and Rev. W.E. England at the afternoon service.
 
     The Rev. Albert Chandler arrived on the circuit in 1884; and soon after his arrival, he began planning a tower and steeple for the Delmar church. By June 1, 1884, a tower (10′ square and 40′ high) was built in front of the church with a steeple (25′ high), topped with a finial that was that was 4′–for a total of 69′ from sidewalk to the finial-top. A bell weighing 390 pounds was placed in the tower. To celebrate all the improvements, a reopening of the church was held June 2,1884. After the reopening, however, the congregation was greatly dissatisfied with the sound of the bell. The maker of the bell agreed to take the bell back and credit its full cost to that of a new, larger bell. Within a few weeks, the larger bell, weighing 850 pounds, arrived and was installed. It produced a sound that pleased the congregation.
 
     Within six months, every bill against the church was paid and the subject of building a parsonage was again broached. A committee with Rev. Chandler, as chairman, was appointed to take the matter under consideration. The committee decided to build the parsonage, provided that the other churches on the circuit would furnish material for the frame. The pastor was asked to solicit the material, a task which required many hours and hard work on his part. He begged for trees, sought volunteers to cut the trees and others to haul the logs to the lumber mill, and still others to saw the logs at the various mills in the circuit. He went through a number of different woodlands with an ax to pick out trees. He assisted in felling trees and preparing the logs to be hauled to the mills. 
 
     By the middle of March of the following year (1885), the carpenters went to work on the house. It was built on  a lot furnished by Elijah Freeney, on the Maryland side of State Street, near the church on the opposite side of the street. The  work was completed in 3 months, and on the 17th day of June 1885, the minister and his family were safely quartered within its walls. 
 
     The church was enlarged to seat over 200 people during the tenure of Rev. A.D. Davis, who was assigned to the Delmar Circuit in 1889. During the summer of 1889, Rev. Davis held evangelistic services in a tent pitched on the church grounds and reported 217 professed conversions, with 175 people being taken into full membership in the church.
 
     The enlarged structure was destroyed by a fire in 1892, three and a half months after Rev. L. P. Cockran replaced Rev. Davis. The fire started in the business section of Delmar, in the second floor of a building at the south-east corner of Railroad Ave. and Grove Street and moved south three blocks to Elizabeth St., destroying every building. Seventeen business, eighteen dwellings, the radio station, and the church were burned, as there was NO fire-fighting equipment in town. The economic loss of the community delayed the rebuilding of the church a year. Meanwhile, the congregation set up a tent on the church grounds and used the schoolhouse. When Winter came, the Baptists, who had erected a church in town, offered the use of their church ever other Sunday when the minister was at another church on their circuit. The Methodists used the Baptist church for almost a year, until a new frame structure could be built on the old lot during the Fall of 1893. The new church consisted of the present sanctuary. 
 
     The work of the church flowed smoothly from this time until October 1901, when the town suffered its second fire. The fire destroyed most of the town, but the church was saved by the heroic efforts of some of the citizens and suffered only scorched siding and cracked windows on the west side of the building. 
 
     In October of 1909, steam heat was installed in the church building; and in March 1910, the Official Board of the church began discussing plans to construct a building for Sunday School and a new parsonage. Both projects were completed after some delay. Instead of erecting a building for the Sunday School, the Board decided to excavate a basement under the church for this purpose. At the same time, the Board purchased the lot adjacent to the east side of the church to increase the church yard. The project ran into trouble when the floor poured by the contractor cracked because of subsoil water pressure, which flooded the basement. When the contractor was unable to complete the task, the Trustees had to secure the services of a second contractor, Mr. W. V. Elliott, who was himself one of the Trustees. When he completed the job, the church had a large room that served the needs of the Sunday School and was used by the community. 
 
     In July of 1915, another motion to build a new parsonage was passed. A building committee, which included the Rev. Frank Faulkner, was appointed and authorized to sell the old parsonage. The old parsonage was purchased by E. L. Freeney for $400 on the condition that it be removed by July 1916. 
 
     Rev. Frank Faulkner, who served the church from 1913 until 1921, was particularly interested in music and in the welfare of the youth. He combined these interested by giving instruction in music and by forming a male quartet, adding to those dimensions of the church’s programs. 
 
     His successor, Rev. John W. Jones, introduced two innovative means for reducing the debt of the church. In 1921, his first year, he faced a church debt of  $2,200. He recommended that the church have bonds printed with coupons attached, which could be used by those members who wished to contribute to their portion of the debt using a partial payment plan; a member would clip a coupon and pay a certain amount on a given date. In his second year, he introduced the envelope system of raising finances; until then, it had been the custom to send out collectors to gather funds to meet the needs of the church. When Rev. Jones left Delmar in 1926, the church was free of debt. 
 
     In 1934, Rev. Ralph C. Jones came to Delmar and was the pastor when the Annual Conference convened at this church and the building was rededicated. In 1937, Rev. Jones installed a cooling system in the church. The cooling system served for over 30years. 
 
 
The First Methodist Church of Delmar
     The three branches of the Methodist Church were united in 193, making it necessary to rename the Delmar Methodist Episcopal Church. The congregation voted to name the church, “First Methodist Church of Delmar.” Rev. Sydney Bradley was the minister at that time. 
 
     The District Superintendent, Rev. J. J. Bunting, dedicated the new Mohler organ on February 18.1940. at a cost of over $4,000, the replacement organ was installed after months of study and fundraising. 
 
     During the war years, there was a shortage of fuel oil, which caused the church to close Sunday School on February 1,1943, and for each Winter after until the end of the war. During the winter period, Sunday School was held in the sanctuary, the classroom, and the basement. The Commission of Education furnished a glass case in the rear of the church for a roster of young men and women of the church, who were in the armed forces. There were 83 names on the roster when it was installed.
 
     After the war, the church returned to a more normal life and even began a time of opportunities for renewal and growth. In November 1948, for example, a campaign was started for a $4.000 improvement fund to paint the church exterior and to redecorate the interior. In July 1949, sufficient funds were on hand to begin the work. The interior walls were painted a soft gray; the ceiling, a white with mahogany and white trim. The pews were mahogany with the ends of each pew furnished in white. The Sunday School building and the fellowship hall were also painted inside and out. The project was completed in November of 1949.
 
     Such embellishments are temporary, and the entire church was repainted and refurbished during the ministry of Rev. Dr. Charles S. Clarkson between 1959 and 1962. In addition to refinishing the pews, walls, and floors, the members undertook some remodeling. The two rooms on either side of the First Street entrance became a church office and a choir room. 
 
     When the Rev. Rollen Ferry arrived, he was not pleased with the parsonage; he went to a motel, where he stayed until the parsonage could be renovated to suit him. The downstairs lavatory was covered to a complete bathroom. The kitchen was changed to a bedroom, and the breakfast room became a new kitchen. The interior walls were painted and wallpapered, while the exterior walls were cleared of the ivy overgrowth. 
 
     When Rev. Terry arrived in 1962, some projects – such as enlarging the nursery – were initiated; but the latter part of his ministry was devoted to the plans of the impending merger with Mount Olive Church. The Annual Conference of 1964 confirmed the merger of the First Methodist Church and Mount Olive Church, and Rev. Ferry was given another assignment. 
 
 
The Minister of the Methodist Episcopal Churches in Delmar:
1868:  Samuel Webb & J.A.B. Wilson    
1869:  Samuel Webb & J. Rich
1870:  G. S. Conway & J. Rich                 
1871:  G.S. Conway
1872-73:  Joseph Dare
1874:  J. Conner
1875:  G. W. Burke
1876-78:  T. R. Creamer
1879-81:  S.T. Garner
1882-83:  G. W. Wilcox
1884-85:  Albert Chandler 
1886-88:  C. S Baker
1889-92:  A. D. David
1892-95:  L. P. Cockran
1895-1901:  George W. Townsend
1901-03:  R. W. Sharp
1903-09:  Zach Webster
1909-13:  S. N. Pilchard
1913-21:  Frank Fulkner 
1921-26:  John W. Jones
1926-29:  Leonard White
1929-31:  E. H. Dashiell
1931-34:  George Bounds
1934-39:  Ralph C. Jones
1939-41:  Sydney Bradley 
1941-44:  John Johnson 
1944-58:  John W. Townsend
1958-62:  Charles Clarkson
1962-64:  Rollen Ferry 
 
 
Bethesda Methodist Protestant Church
     The Methodist Protestant Church was organized in Delmar in 1889 by Rev. George B. McCready, pastor of the Union Circuit. The first meeting was held in the hall over James T. Wilson’s clothing store on Grove Street. In 1890, a little church was built on the north side of West State Street on the edge of town and was named Bethesda Methodist Protestant Church. 
 
 
Mount Olive Church 
     Three years later, when the April 1893 Maryland Conference was held in Laurel, Delaware, Delmar was set off as a Mission with Providence Methodist Protestant Church to be known as the Delmar Charge. The Rev. John A. Wright was appointed as pastor of the new charge, and he moved into a rented house on Jewell Street. The growth of the congregation was phenomenal; so a lot was purchased on the northeast corner of Second and State Streets for the sum of $600 and a new church, named Mount Olive, was build and dedicated in November 1893. 
 
 
St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church
     The Annual Conference in 1964 confirmed the merging of First Methodist Church and Mount Olive Church and appointed the Rev. Robert P. Whitlock as pastor. The combined churches in turn appointed Mrs. Virginia Scott to be Director of Christian Education.
 
     By ballot, the combined congregation selected “St. Stephen’s Methodist Church of Delmar” as the name of the new church. It was dedicated to hold regular worship services in the former First Methodist Church, because its sanctuary was the larger of the two, and to keep the former Mount Olive sanctuary intact for special services. At the same time, it was determined that the pastor would live in the First Methodist parsonage and Mrs. Scott would live in the Mount Olive parsonage.
 
     In the newly named St. Stephen’s Church, the sliding doors were opened to the classroom on the west side of the sanctuary and the pews from Mount Olive were moved to the classroom, thereby making room for another 50 people at worship. Numerous other renovations were undertaken at this time to expand the nursery, classrooms, and other facilities to make the best use of the space available.
 
     During the ministry of Rev. Whitlock, the church acquired several additional properties. Two lots at First and Grove Streets, adjoining the church property and improved with a four-office professional building and a house, were purchased. New sidewalks were laid, the house was raised, and the lots were filled in and made into a parking lot. The church also purchased the Veasey Building to the east of the church, and it became known as the St. Stephen’s Community Center. A youth center was projected on the second floor, while the first floor contained the parlor, church offices, a banquet room, and a kitchen. The building is now called Camelot Hall.
 
     In 1974, a meeting was held and it was voted to discontinue the use of and dispose of the Second Street Building–formerly Mount Olive Church-and the Chestnut Street parsonage.  
 
     Between 1972 and 1982, the only major project undertaken was the installation of air conditioners in Camelot Hall. 
 
     The Rev. Dr. S. Willard Crossan, III, became the minister in September 1982. Soon after, he began a series of renovations designed to restore the church physically, financially, and spiritually. In 1983, several men and women of the church painted the education building, and the United Methodist Women replaced all the drapes. The men and the women helped replace the floor in Camelot Hall, which had caved in. The renovated kitchen and hall was used by civic organizations and private groups for many events during the year. The second floor of Camelot Hall was donated to the Delmarva Model Railroad Club. The club has become a prominent fixture in the community and has attracted visitors from the region and from afar during their open houses. 
 
     Soon after their arrival, Dr. Crossan and his wife, Debrae, began projects to refurbish and improve the parsonage and its grounds. Working with the Parsonage Committee and others, they managed to refinish all the floors, re-plaster most of the rooms, install new carpets, repair all the windows, and refinish the porch. They also put on a new roof and did customized trim on the garage. They also cleaned, regraded, and landscaped the side and back yards of the parsonage property. 
 
     The major project during this period–and the one we are still celebrating-was the complete restoration of the church building; but before that could begin it became necessary to replace the roof of the church and re-tar the roof of Camelot hall. Planning for the major project took several years, during which time the memorial fund and the future fund were created and the budget was unified. As a result of the emphasis on “Stewardship” since 1982, there has been a 30% increase in giving.