Seldom is a church privileged to mark the anniversaries of two important dates in its history.
These two dates commemorate the spread of the Methodist witness in the community of Weatherly and the United States.
From a mere handful of Irish immigrants in the city of New York, and from a mere handful of pioneers in Black Creek, Methodism was made possible here. Each year has been one of achievement and progress and today we are the heirs of the results of their faith and their spirit of adventure.
Methodism in America dates from 1766, when a small Methodist class was organized in New York City by a group of Irish Wesleyan immigrants. The first church structure, the original John Street Church, New York, was completed in 1766. In 1769, the first ministers sent by Mr. Wesley arrived in America. By 1733, ten ministers were to hold their first conference in the New World at Philadelphia. At the Christmas Conference in Baltimore in 1874, the Methodist Episcopal Church was organized.
The Methodist Church in the community of Black Creek was organized by a missionary pastor, Father Roger Moister. Father Moister was the first disciple of John Wesley to preach in this vicinity. Father Moister came from England in 1831 and joined a Methodist Society in Wilkes-Barre. He soon learned that the people engaged in hard coal mining around Beaver Meadows were without Methodist preaching. He came to this area where he obtained a job with a coal mining company. In his spare time, he was a Methodist clergyman.
His tireless efforts in this region made him the Father of Methodism in this area. In serving all of his circuits, Father Moister often had to ride fifty miles to reach all of the people in his parish.
In Weatherly (Black Creek), it has been fairly well established that the first Methodists met in the homes until the year 1841. This year they began holding their meetings in a small schoolhouse located on the site of the present school terrace. A union church was constructed on the site of the First Presbyterian Church and was used by all congregations after 1853.
American Methodism marked its 100th anniversary in 1886, and it was in this year that the members of the Weatherly Methodist Church built their first church. This project was led by Rev. Emory Swartz, and the building was erected on a plot of ground on Carbon Street which was given to the congregation by the members of the Smith family.
Rev. Swartz undoubtedly used the enthusiasm of the Methodist Centennial to inspire the congregation during the milestone of construction in the church’s local history. The people appropriately chose the name for their new edifice as the Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church. The word Episcopal was dropped from the name of the church in 1939.
This building served the members of the congregation until April 16, 1950. It was on that date that the Rev. James Dendler conducted the last service in the old church. A new edifice has replaced the old one and will continue to serve for many more years to come.
The year is now 2016, one hundred and fifty years since the erection of the first Methodist Church in Weatherly, and two hundred and fifty years since the organization of Methodism in America. There has been a proud past, and with the dedicated men and women who comprise the membership of the Centenary United Methodist Church, it is certain that Methodism will continue to be strong in the community and the region.