Asbury United Methodist Church, Cinnaminson, NJ
Thursday, May 30, 2024

> Asbury History

During the year of 1811 Bishop Francis Asbury, traveling on horseback, met with a small group of Christians in Cinnaminson and formed the Asbury Church. The Church was named after this pioneer evangelist, who gave his life to the Lord to spread Christianity and Methodism.  It is noteworthy to mention that this small group accomplished the starting of the Asbury Church twenty-five years before the New Jersey Conference was established.
The first Church was a log cabin built by the early Methodists for worship. The first Minister was the Reverend John D. Beck who served our Lord for 40 years at Cinnaminson. At the age of 84 Reverend Beck passed away. His final earthly resting place is in the Asbury Cemetery. As part of the 150th Anniversary ceremonies, a marker was dedicated in his honor to commemorate his heretofore unmarked grave.
The Asbury Cemetery is a page from the history of the Church. It is the resting place for some of the oldest families in the Delaware Valley. Resting here are pioneer leaders such as the Van Vane’s, Toy’s, Hullings, and Corsons which were the ancestral names of those, who with their faith in God, started a Christian way of life that must be a guiding light for us today.
In 1819 the log cabin was razed by a fire and replaced by a stone house of worship. During the year of 1874 this was torn down and replaced by the present red brick Church facing Route 130.  A building boom and influx of new people into Cinnaminson during the 1950-1960 decade presented this small Church with a challenge that can be likened to, but not equal to, its founders.
The encroachment of Route 130 onto Church property made it dangerous to enter and created a noise problem that all but over­powered our ministers teachings. The parking area which served well in the days of horse and buggies, was adequate for a very small congregation but proved inadequate when membership increased.
The final challenge was the inefficiency of our Sunday School rooms. New residents and potential members took one look at our heater room facilities, where some classes were being held, and looked elsewhere.  It is without doubt that divine guidance and providence had left, for 153 years, a piece of ground vacant in the Cemetery that would give us enough room to house both the church and an Educational Building. Under the able guidance of Reverend Moro Tussey, who rekindled our faith and our energies, we seriously decided to act.  As in all small churches, enough funds to build a new Church and new educational facilities, were unattainable. Obviously this plan could not be used.  This left us but one alternative, that was to move the present church and build an educational unit onto it. This plan was finally approved as our course of action.  With little more than strong faith, approximately 20 families embarked on another chapter in the long history of this small country Methodist Church,
On October 21, 1962 the ground was broken and dedicated. Joining us on this happy day was Dr. Franklin Buck, whose advice and help from a Conference level, was invaluable. During this period our prayers were answered. Enough funds came in from projects worked on by the W.S.C.S (Women’s Society of Christian Service), who worked tirelessly and from outside sources, plus the faithful families gifts, to go ahead with the plans.
William. Russell & Sons of Mullica Hill, N.J. contracted to physically move the Church. They were able professional house movers and dedicated Methodists.  Mr. Thomas Malone of Westville, N.J. was selected as architect and John Cundy of Verga, N.J. as General Contractor.
Mr. Russell, after preliminary work started moving the Church in early May 1963 . It took about a month of painstaking and careful effort to transport this brick edifice, oil wooden cribbing and track across the Cemetery to the new resting place. During this period we had Church services on all but one Sunday. Mr. Russell obligingly built a ramp, wherever the Church was at the time, so we could worship. After many anxious moments the Church was placed. The new Fellowship Hall and Educational Buildings were worked on.
 On a very cold Sunday, November 25, 1963 the reward of our faith and prayers was given to us. The Consecration and laying of the new cornerstone took place. Attending were many friends and officials of the Conference. Our District Superintendent Dr. George Propert and Dr. Franklin Buck participated in the service.
We are indeed blessed that for 159 years the Asbury United Methodist Church has stood the onslaught of war, sin, weather, economic change, and still stands as a beacon of Christianity. We are fortunate that we can worship at a site that is filled with religious and historical memories of its founding and of the faithful members who, generation after generation, decade after decade, by God’s will, left this priceless heritage for us. By its own longevity, the reins of responsibility fall upon us, the present, to have faith, courage, and again with God’s help, sense of decision to emulate our forebearers in sustaining this shrine for its basic purpose — Love of God — Love of Fellow man — And Deliverance From Evil.
Reverend* and Mrs. Moro B. Tussey*
The W.S.C.S., (Women’s Society of Christian Service) without whom it could not have been accomplished.
William Bennett, Chairman*
Mrs. William Bennett
Fred W. Frei, Jr.*
Mrs. Theodore Hansen, Jr.
Mrs. Donald Petrie
Norman Romberger
The Trustees:
John C. Holtzapple, President*
John H. Clark*
Theodore A. Hansen, Jr.
Lawrence Nahay*
Andrew Oliver*
Charles A. Perkins*
Donald Petrie*
Joseph L. Reeve*
Artha Stow*
The twenty or so Church families whose trust, and faith, patience and gifts were our rock to stand on.
               The Friends of many faiths whose monetary gifts were appreciated.
 * These faithful Christians have joined our Savior since 1963.
In 1987 the people of Asbury took a leap of faith in forming a Parsonage Committee to search out a suitable home for our next pastor. The committee chose a home on Andover Court within walking distance of the church and used the Tussey and Perkins Estate funds for this purchase. The Asbury family banded together, working days and evenings to ready our parsonage for a new pastor. Rooms were repaired, painted and papered. The yard, shrubs and trees were raked and pruned. Fixtures, windows and appliances were replaced or repaired. The Asbury family and friends could be found working inside and outside of the Parsonage at any hour of the day. it was truly a labor of love. We sang, talked, laughed, reminisced, prayed and, in general, were very excited and dedicated to creating the best parsonage we possible could for the new pastoral family.
Then, later that year, the Reverend Aifredo Cintron, wife Wendy and children, Adam, Leah and Marissa came to Asbury.  Reverend Cintron served from 1987 to 1991. Near the end of Reverend Cintron’s pastorate, the Reverend Jeff Tilden acted as interim pastor.
During Reverend Cintron’s ministry Asbury’s first Mission Statement was written, new ceiling fans were installed in the sanctuary, Koinonia (a fellowship time with refreshments following the morning worship service) and the Acolyte Program were begun.  The Asbury Fair was replaced by yard Sales to raise funds for our Parsonage. The Easter Egg Program continued and became our only church fund raiser. The Progressive Dinner involving Asbury family members was begun and continues today. The United Methodist Women (UMW) luncheons were discontinued as so many of our women were not available during the day to cook and serve. The United Methodist Men (UMM) discontinued the annual Chicken Bar-B-Q but continued to hold Roast Beef Dinners as fund raisers.
On the 175th anniversary of the formation of the Asbury United Methodist Church, we remembered with pride the Mortgage Burning Ceremony and Dedication of the Educational Building which took place in 1975.
Many Asbury traditions endure. The Christmas Dinner began in the 1950’s by the Stow and Reeve families and continued by the Bennett and Petrie families is at present (1986) coordinated by the United Methodist Women. The Easter Breakfast following the Sunrise Service, began in the 1960’s by Artha (Bud) Stow, is currently sponsored by the Methodist Men.
 Reverend Tussey served Asbury from 1958 to 1978. Although he officially retired in 1976, the congregation prevailed upon the Bishop to extend his service to us. During the ministry of Reverend Tussey we were blessed to have another member of Asbury receive the call to ministry; Steven Dennehy.
In 1978 the Reverend Fred Price was appointed to Asbury.  While he served our congregation, his wife, the Reverend Lanie Price, served St. Paul’s Church in Willingboro and later the First United Methodist Church in Mt. Ephraim.
The New World Mission, held in the Spring of 1982, brought the Reverend Fletcher Richardson to Asbury for one week from Bolton, . This week of Bible Studies and evening services brought a spiritual awakening to our congregation. Many lives were changed, decisions for the Lord were made, new members joined the church and traditions such as the Men’s Prayer Breakfast which began during the Mission continue today.
Other noteworthy events were the front entry to the Sunday School building was enclosed in brick, Christmas Eve Services were expanded to two, new gold Senior Choir robes replaced our well worn maroon robes, the sanctuary was painted pale yellow and an electric chair lift was installed from the main level to the basement.
In 1985 a new organ dedicated in honor of Mrs. Marie P. Lummis who retired after serving Asbury as Organist-Choir Director for sixteen years. Marie was succeeded by Mr. Nelson Valentine.
The Reverend Ruth Propert Taenzer came to serve Asbury in 1985. During this year the position of part-time secretary was established.
We were saddened on Mother’s Day, 1986, by the untimely passing of Andrew “Dick” Oliver, one of the oldest members of our church. He had been treasurer for thirty years and served as unofficial church historian.
Our United Methodist Women continue to sponsor the annual Asbury Fair, luncheons, and provide financial support to numerous mission projects such as the Neighborhood Center in Camden. The Methodist Men hold Prayer Breakfasts, Roast Beef and Chicken Barbeque Dinners as well as lending financial support to the church. We are blessed with a growing Sunday School (90 in 1986), MYF and Daily Vacation Bible School.
Among the many talented members of our congregation is Mrs. Gladys Bennett who crafted three beautiful gift quilts for our pastors after each Asbury family designed and sewed a square bearing their family’s name. The Tussey quilt displayed in Tussey Fellowship Hall was returned to us in 1980 after the passing of Reverend and Mrs. Tussey.
The newest addition to Asbury is the velvet pew cushions purchased with memorial monies and installed in the Fall of 1986.
As we celebrated the 175th anniversary of this historical Christian church we are delighted to welcome the Reverend and Mrs. Fletcher Richardson and son, Simon, as our guests to share in our week-long celebration.
From 1991 to 1992 the Reverend Steve Bomely served briefly as pastor.
Then in 1992 we were blessed to welcome the Reverend John W. Doll and wife, Gwen, to Asbury. Still with us today on this 190th Anniversary, they are raising four sons, Aaron, Matthew, Robert and Joseph as they minister to our congregation and the wider community.
Reverend Doll’s active ministry has brought many new traditions to Asbury as well as ensuring the continuation of the old.  Asbury has always offered VBS to children free of charge and continues to see VBS as an important outreach of the church. A Community/Family Fun Night complete with ponies, petting zoo, ice cream, children’s crafts, face painting, balloons, DJ and more has become a special part of the VBS program under Reverend Doll’s leadership.
Annual Homecoming Sunday, celebrated the Sunday before Thanksgiving, was begun in 1992. Following the morning worship service, the Asbury family enjoys a turkey dinner with all of the trimmings downstairs in Tussey Fellowship Hall. On this special Sunday the Annual Homecoming Sunday Award for Faithful Service is presented. (See appendix for list of recipients.)
In 1993 the This Old Church Committee was formed and the refurbishing of the Sanctuary was undertaken. New carpeting (blue), painting of the ceiling and walls (light blue) and a new wall cross was placed behind the pulpit. $10,000 was needed to be raised. A $5,000 gift in memory of Michael Reeve was given even before the first appeal went out. Funds were raised in excess of need! The project began in 1993 and was completed in 1994. New maroon choir robes were also provided by a special gift. Since then, other improvements to buildings and grounds under the oversight of the Board of Trustees have included the re-paving of our cemetery driveways and parking lot, new windows in the Sanctuary as well as special decorative candles in these windows, dual spotlights on the cross, a new Yamaha piano and new sound system. In the Sunday School building, new windows, doors and roof have been added as well as a TV/VCR for the nursery. All of these wonderful additions and improvements were made possible by the generous donations of our members and friends.
The Parsonage Committee and the Trustees have continued their stewardship of our Parsonage. From 1997 to the present a new heating system and central air-conditioner, dishwasher, range, alarm system and windows have been added. They have waterproofed the basement, added floor and pull-down stairs to the attic and repaired/refurbished two bathrooms and one powder room.
The Easter Egg Program has blossomed beyond budgetary needs to fund Mission and special projects. In the year 2000 new air-conditioning and heating units were installed in the Sanctuary and this year, parsonage improvements have been designated for the Egg making profits. In the past year 52,832 eggs were produced in the church basement and distributed through the helping hands of many faithful Asburians.
Through God’s blessing, the generous funding of the Easter Egg Program (presently 20% of gross sales are designated to mission) and good stewardship, the church continues to expand its mission outreach. From sending Samaritan’s Purse shoe boxes to needy children (Asbury sent 162 in November, 2000) to the UMW’s Annual Food Drive ($3600 was given to the Christian Caring Center this past Spring) to hand delivering 250 “Friendship Baskets” at Easter time, Asbury Church takes seriously the call to reach out to our neighbors near and far. In addition,, Asbury continues to support a number of missionaries, organizations and projects too numerous to mention. Indeed, we have gained a reputation as “The Little Church with a Big Heart.”
In 1997 the Church Council adopted a new Mission Statement and revised it in 2000 as a result of the Church’s participation in the Church Pilot Training Program. This is who we are, why we are here, and what God calls us to do!
We exist to be a part of the Kingdom of God in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
We will be dedicated to personal growth through Jesus Christ and to reaching out to others in Christian love.
 Additional opportunities to grow in Jesus Christ include the addition of a new Prayer Room, a weekly prayer service and Bible study called “The Tuesday Blessing”, a revival of participation in Adult Sunday School Education, Children’s Church, Christian Scrap-booking, A Celebration of Women by the UMW, Kid’s Dinner and Craft Nights and more.
Our present church history would not be complete without special mention of the music ministry of Nancy and Ken Morton, the adult choir, and our special soloists. Asbury’s music ministry is a special blend of traditional gospel and moving contemporary selections. Indeed, when experiencing worship at Asbury one is moved by the presence and power of God.
As we anticipate our 200th Anniversary, we look back at our rich church history and remember our former pastors and members with Christian love. We thank God for our many blessings and pray His continued love and care.
 An exciting new chapter in Asbury’s history is happening now! That’s right “It’s Happening”! We are all taking part in the expansion of our current sanctuary to accommodate our growth. The Fellowship Hall is doubling in size so we can get together as a Church for meetings, events and dinners, including our annual Roast Beef Dinner. The sanctuary is also growing, with the expansion of our Chancel and the addition of a new parlor. Our excitement grew as we saw the early signs of construction, including a security fence and a Johnny on the Spot. Who could have known how much buzz those things could cause! We are very excited to be a part of this stage in Asbury’s history and glorify God that we are part of a growing Church in Christ.  As always our goal is to remain a "Growing" Church with a Big Heart!  
1811        Father John D. Beck- the leader for about 40 years.
1866        Trustees elected and a memorial for Rev. Beck by John Fort
1867-68      Trustees elected, Treasurer's report
1868-72      Rev. E. Waters, Chairman- meetings, Israel Hullings, Local Preacher
1873-75      Brother G. H. Neal
1875        Rev. N. Edwards, Rev. Stokes, Rev. Graw
1876-79     Rev. J. Joroleman
1879-80     Rev. D. M. DeHughes
1880-81     Rev. Peter Carty
1881-82     Rev. J.F. Morrell
1882-83     Rev. C.A. Malmsbury
1883-84     Rev. T.D. Sleeper
1884-85     Rev. E.T. Sherman
1885-86     Rev. John R. Mason
1887-88     Rev. Addison Mason
1888-89     Rev. Bray
1889-90     Rev. John A. Oakes
1891-92     Rev. William Biard
1893-94     Rev. James Winder (Pennsville and ASbury)
1894-95     Rev. Daniel E. Clair
1896-97     Rev. Fergus Slater
1897-98     Rev. John A. Mason- 9/1/1898- Rev. H.G. Howel
1899-01     Rev. Daniel Aspinwall
1902-03     Rev. Frank A. Howel
1904-08     Rev. Nathan D. Aspinwall
1909        Rev. David Fisler  
1910        Rev. John F. Lowden
1912-14     Rev. Howard Crammer
1915-16     Rev. Philetus Pittman
1917-19     Rev. George A. Palmer
1920-21     Rev. James H. Budd
1922-25     Rev. Fred E. Tansley
1926-28     Rev. John H. Lennon, Sr.
1929-30     Rev. Daniel E. Clair
1931-32     Rev. Herbert Bugg
1933-34     Rev. A. Parcels
1935-38     Rev. Milton McCann
1939-42     Rev. Howard H. Scarborough
1943-45     Rev. Charles E. Jones
1946-48     Rev. G. Russell Shaw
1949-50     Rev. W. Charloner Hitchens
1951-52     Rev. R.E. Coleman
1952-55     Rev. Walter A. Quigg
1955-57     Rev. J.W. Crowther, Jr
1957-58     Rev. Edward Underwood
1958-78     Rev. Moro B. Tussey
1978-85     Rev. Fred Price
1985-87     Rev. Ruth Taenzer
1987-91     Rev. Alfredo Cintron (Rev. Jeff Tilden acted as interim pastor)
1991-92     Rev. Steve Bomely
1992- present     Rev. John W. Doll

Methodism is a branch of the Christian Church which originated in in the 1 8th Century. In 1729 John Wesley, with his brother Charles and a few other associated at Oxford organized a meeting for their moral improvement. They were joined by Harvey and George Whitefield.
In 1735 at the end of 6 years they numbered 14 or 15. The term “Methodists” was applied to them on account of their methodical mode of life and work. The articles Wesley prepared for the Methodist Church in were taken from the 39 articles of the Church of England.
After John Wesley returned from a two year visit in , North America, which was in the year 1738, he began to preach with great fervor, and in 1729 Whitefield held the first open-air meeting at Kingsford, near Bristol, addressing an immense crowd of colliers (miners). John Wesley and his brother Charles followed this example. Wesley and Whitefield did not organize any Methodist societies during their visits to .
Being denied admission to the churches of by the clergy, they preached in private houses, barns, market aces, and the open fields. Their converts were either despised or utterly rejected by the church, and hence Wesley, at their own request formed them into societies, with a few rules which are still recognized by the Methodist Church, with slight exceptions. Wesley and his followers had not planned a separate church at the start. They considered what they were doing as a revival and missionary movement. But when the church rejected them they decided to appoint lay preachers.
The first assembly that took the name of “conference” was held in the Foundery, London, June 25, 1744, and thereafter annually. Previous to this conference, the greater portion of had been divided into “circuits” and provision had been made to supply these with preachers for such time as the need of the work seemed to indicate.
In 1766, a class was formed by Philip Embury, assisted by Captain Thomas Webb, a British Army officer stationed in New York. One of Wesley’s local preachers, Webb preached and formed classes in 1768 on Long Island, New Jersey, Delaware, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
In 1768, the first chapel was dedicated on John Street, New York. In 1769 Richard Boardman and Joseph Pilmoor, the first missionaries sent to by Wesley, arrived in New York. in 1769, the first Methodist church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was erected (American Methodism’s oldest and most historic church -Old St. George’s Church, 4th Street and Delaware River Bridge, dedicated November 24, 1769).
In 1770, the first “love feast” and first “Watch Night” was held in St. George’s. Asbury’s first sermon in was preached here on October 28, 1771.
In 1771, Francis Asbury, the “Pioneer Bishop,” arrived in North America as missionary to the Methodists by request of John Wesley, and the next year he was appointed by Wesley as superintendent of the American societies. He was soon superseded by Thomas Rankin.
The first American Conference was held in 1773, and consisted often preachers all of European birth. The societies then aggregated 1,160 members. During the Revolutionary War nearly all the preachers of English descent, except Asbury, returned home.
Wesley in 1780 applied to the Bishop of London to ordain at least one presbyter to administer the sacraments among the American Methodists, but was refused. Therefore, in 1784, Wesley, assisted by the Rev. Thomas Creighton and Richard Whatcoat, presbyter, ordained the Rev. Thomas Coke, LLD, as superintendent of the churches, with Asbury as Assistant. During this year the “Sunday Service” and 25 articles of Religion were adopted.
In 1784, Francis Asbury was ordained Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church of America. Thenceforth his life was devoted with untiring energy to the organization and expansion of that church.
In 1800, Richard Whatcoat was elected Bishop and in 1808, William McKindric was also elected Bishop.
Rev. John D. Beck, at the age of 30 years was chosen as the first leader of this little band of Christians who started their organization in 1811, and built their first church of logs in 1812, which was later called Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church. Rev. Beck was born in the year 1782, and died in 1866 at the age of 84 years.
Asbury church was known as the “Mother of Methodism” in this section of the country as it was the first church built in this vicinity in 1812. The first building of logs was destroyed by fire.
In 1819, the second building was built of stone covered with white coat. This building was torn down after the third building was put up. The stones were sold and the money used toward the cost of the third building. The benches used in the second church were sold for $35.00.
The third building, build in 1874, was made of red bricks and is still being used in 1950, though the entire inside has been greatly modernized.
The glass goblet and plate which has been brought back to the church in 1950 after being held by members of the family of the communion steward, were used in the old stone church, according to Miss Mary B. VanVane, the oldest member of our congregation, who passed away in 1931, at the age of 91 years. Miss VanVane, her brother William Henry VanVane and her father, Henry VanVane were all communion stewards.
The silver pitcher, 2 silver cups and 2 silver plates with the name of “Asbury” written on them, were used in the present building for several years, until they were replaced by individual communion glasses.
The two silver plates are still being used to pass the bread at communion and love feast; the baptismal font, which is also of silver with the name of the church written on it was used in the morning worship on October 23, 1950, when three infants were baptized.

Rev. John D. Beck died July 16, 1866 at age 84. He was a member of the M.E. Church (Methodist Episcopal) for more than sixty years.
In examining the record of Asbury Church I find that he was chosen a trustee in 1811; and in their first meeting they resolved to build a church for the Methodist Society, which they did in 1812, called (since) Asbury M.E. Church, from which has gone out Methodism in all this region of the country. Some of the most honored of the M.E. Church lie in Asbury burying ground, whose children have been represented in the itenerancy and foreign missions of the church.
Father Beck was the first leader of this little band, after the church was built and continued as their leader about 40 years, and held at one time the office of Steward.

His life was one of uniformity. He was a Methodist in the full sense of the word. He was before burdened with years, always at his post. His exhortations were Scriptural and practical being an exhorter for about forty years.
His favorite theme “The words that I have spoken, the same shall judge him at that day”. He said to a friend whom he visited but a short time before his death, as he took up the Bible, “For more than fifty years I have taken a peep every day into this precious book.”
The last love feast he attended he exhorted us to find the old landmarks, to observe the discipline and be Methodists; and to adhere to the doctrines of justification, Sanctification, and the witness of the Spirit, as taught by Mr. Wesley. The end of this aged pilgrim was peaceful and triumphant. He rests from his labors.