OUR FIRST 100 YEARS
For the first forty-five years of our history our congregation was known as Second Church and was located at Fifty-ninth and Catherine Streets in Philadelphia. On October 13, 1957, the congregation moved to Broomall and held its first service, a service of Holy Communion, in its new location. At that time the name was changed to Christ Church.
Second Church, Philadelphia, was conceived in the mind of the Annual Conference of 1911 after an enthusiastic report of the Conference Missionary and Church Extension Board. In 1912, the Reverend S. C. Enck, D.D. was appointed as pastor. Authority to purchase a lot at the corner of Fifty-ninth and Catherine Streets, Philadelphia, for $8,000 was granted.
On Easter Sunday, March 23, 1913, interested persons met at the home of the pastor, 402 South Fifty-seventh Street, and formed Second Church with fifty-three charter members.
A Sunday School of 37 members was begun on Sunday, June 1, 1913, the day of the cornerstone laying for the Sunday School Building. Services were held in a tent from June 1 until the tent was destroyed by an electrical storm.
On Sunday, November 2, 1913, the building and parsonage were dedicated to the worship and service of Almighty God. Dr. S. C. Enck served as pastor of the church until October 1917 when he was elected superintendent of the East Pennsylvania Conference. An almost phenomenal growth occurred during the first five years of the life of Second Church. In 1917 the membership was 429.
Shortly after the Reverend Clyde A. Lynch had become the pastor of Second Church in October 1925, a disastrous fire broke out in the church causing damage estimated at $6,241, the amount being covered by insurance. In addition to repairing the damage of the fire, the congregation made additional improvements including the installation of a two manual Moeller pipe organ. On Sunday afternoon, October 17, 1926, a mortgage burning service was held and the original mortgage was burned.
In 1931 the Reverend Cawley H. Stine, D.D. began his pastorate. During this time the community experienced a population change and many of our congregation moved into the suburbs.
A program of renovation, to make the sanctuary more conducive to the beauty of worship, was presented to the Council in 1944 by the Reverend Harold S. Peiffer. On Sunday, July 9, 1944 after extensive work had been completed, a Rededication Service was held. Dr. S. C. Enck, the first pastor, shared in this service. A little more than three years later, on Sunday, November 16, 1947 a Mortgage Burning Service was held marking the completion of this improvement project.
Under the pastorate of the Reverend David W. Gockley, the Council of Administration began to re-evaluate the program and the possibilities of Second Church. In 1956 extensive conversations with the Board of Missions of the East Pennsylvania Conference concerning the future of Second Church were begun.
In the fall of 1956 the Reverend Robert M. Daugherty became the pastor of the church. After much prayer and study the congregation voted to relocate in the Broomall area. Five acres of land and a large house were purchased at 2900 Springfield Road, Broomall in 1957 at a cost of $63,000. The site at Fifty-ninth and Catherine Streets was sold to the Sharon Baptist Church. For several years the large house served as a parsonage, sanctuary and Christian Education facility.
Almost immediately plans were begun for the erection of a new sanctuary and fellowship hall. After careful consideration Creative Building, Inc. was selected as architects for the new building. Following a successful Building Fund Campaign, which raised $63,800 in pledges over a three-year period, ground was broken for the new unit on Sunday, October 19, 1958. Work progressed rapidly on the new building and the cornerstone was laid on Sunday, February 22, 1959. On Sunday, June 21, 1959, the completed sanctuary and fellowship hall, costing $105,000 was dedicated.
In 1961 a second Building Fund Campaign was undertaken and again more than $60,000 was pledged over a three-year period. Shortly before the dedication of the new church, a parsonage was purchased adjacent to the original property for $25,000. The original building on the 2900 Springfield Road property was then used completely for Christian Education work. From 1964 to 1969 the Reverend W. Richard Kohler was Pastor of Christ Church. During these years there were many improvements to the buildings and grounds. The children’s Sunday School expanded and Christian fellowship grew.
The Reverend Glenn Welch became Pastor in June of 1969. Under his direction the new Sunday School building was built and due to phenomenal giving, this building costing $120,000 was paid for by 1978. In 1987 a building project was undertaken which added five new classrooms, a choir room, storage room and restrooms for the handicapped. Due to much volunteer help, this new addition cost only about $75,000 that was raised through pledges over a five-year period. At this same time an additional parking lot was added.
In 1998 Reverend Daniel Schimmel was appointed pastor of the church after serving as an associate pastor at his previous charge. He came to the church with a lot of enthusiasm and vision. However, the church was in the midst of mourning the retirement of their long-time pastor, causing tension between the pastor and the congregation. Worship attendance began to decrease. To try to mitigate the strain, the district superintendent was consulted. A ministry audit was completed, which identified two goals, establishing a Christian pre-school and beginning a contemporary worship service, in the hopes they would stimulate growth in the congregation. Both a mission statement and vision statement were adopted. With this work done, the expectation was that the church would be ready again to minister to the community. However, tensions remained high and after two years of ministry at the church, Reverend Schimmel resigned.
With worship attendance and giving further decreasing, the church was no longer able to sustain a full-time pastor. After consultation with DS Violet Fischer, it was decided that a local pastor would be appointed to the church. In September, 2000, Reverend Jesse A. Coale was appointed to the church as a part-time local pastor. This was a time of transition, as the church continued to mourn and seek its new identity. Over the course of the next six months, worship attendance and giving began to increase slightly and stabilize. For the first several years of his ministry, Reverend Coale offered the Disciple Bible Study Course. Many in the congregation participated in both Disciple I and Disciple II. The church began to work on the goals of the ministry audit. Within two years Creation Corner Preschool was established under Director Mary Beth Neyhard; it continues to grow. In October, 2002, “Through the Cross,” our contemporary worship service was begun. Initially, it was on Saturday evenings, but was moved to Sunday mornings at 9:00 AM in 2003. Since moving to Sunday morning, it has been well attended with an average attendance of 35-40.
In 2003, it was found that the youth house at the rear of the parsonage was not part of the church property, despite using it since the purchase of the parsonage. After negotiations with a developer, who was building next to our property, it was donated for the cost of the transfer of the title.
Over the course of years several technological upgrades were made to the church and sanctuary. A church website was developed and church recording including attendance and giving records became electronic. Early on, Bose speakers and a sound board were installed and an overhead projector was used. In 2009 an LCD projector and an electric projection screen were installed and most recently in 2010, a sound both was installed. Also in 2012, wireless internet was installed throughout the building.
In the last 12 years ministry at Christ UMC has continued to evolve. The youth group as experienced the ebb and flow of children growing up in waves. In the early 2000’s the youth group was large and active under the direction of Lauren Plummer. Under her direction the group took several mission trips to Memphis and West Virginia. From 2011 the youth group had again experienced a growth spurt. Under the direction of Sarah Coale, the 25-30 youth meet on Sunday evenings. The church continues to provide VBS, Bible study and Sunday school and it participates in the Fourth of July parade.