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 First Methodist Church of Delmar
Bethesda Methodist Protestant Church
Mount Olive Church 
St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church