"Declare His glory among the nations,
His wonders among all peoples."
As a result of the American Revolution, John Wesley was compelled in 1778 to break with standard practice and ordain two of his lay preachers , Thomas Vasey and Richard Whatcoat, as presbyters. Dr. Thomas Coke, already an Anglican priest, assisted Wesley in this action. Coke was then set apart as a bishop by Wesley and dispatched with Vasey and Whatcoat to America to take charge of Methodist activities there.
Our history began a little later. In 1830 the Reverend Jonathan Havemeyer, a distinguished Methodist minister from Boston, visited our area on an inspection tour. He reported that “Long Islanders, but for one or two communities, are not very God-fearing people. But those that live in Farmingdale and Hicksville seem to be very religious.”
That was proven on March 29, 1842, when the Farmingdale Methodist Episcopal Church was organized at the home of Philip Ketcham (it became the Methodist Church in 1939, then the United Methodist Church in 1968). In 1843 a one-room church seating 150 persons was built on Main Street south of the railroad tracks on land donated by Ambrose George. This new house of worship was the second in the area and attracted new settlers in the growing depot area. It offered Sunday morning services and a well-attended evening service. Farmingdale was first a preaching station on the Huntington circuit and later on the Amityville circuit. By around 1920 the church had become a “single station charge.”
In 1873 a musical instrument was introduced to accompany hymns. After a large number of congregants rose and walked out, saying the devil had been brought into the church, the breakout group formed the Free Methodist Church in a building on Washington Street. The music found favor with the remaining members, however, and in 1874 a youth drive raised enough funds to purchase an actual organ. In 1883 the church was remodeled and a steeple added. A bell was added in 1886 and served as the alarm for the fire department.
In 1907 our present site was donated by Nathaniel Ketcham. The first building, which had become a community landmark, was sold in 1925 for $23,000 and the money used to construct the current building, which was designed by Julius Gregory of New York City and built by church member, Christopher Bierling.
The cornerstone was laid in 1926 and services were held in the Veterans Hall on Main Street until the new building was dedicated in 1927 by Bishop Luther B. Wilson. The Conklin Street parsonage (now White’s Funeral Home) was sold in 1929 and the house adjoining the church on Grant Avenue was purchased as the parsonage.
Our beautiful Gethsemane window was given by Peter Ketcham in 1929.
A dramatic increase in Farmingdale population and membership in the 1950’s prompted the church to build a new parsonage on Rose Street to allow the addition of an Education Building, which was dedicated in 1956.
In 1962 the pipe organ was sold to St. Thomas Episcopal Church and J. Walter Denton donated a new Gonsert Austin Organ in memory of his wife, Mae.
Our Day Nursery School, which still thrives today, opened in 1964.
J. Walter Denton donated property at 408 Main Street to the church for staff residence in 1966 (now Hardscrabble Apartments), and in 1974 John Baylis deeded his house at 401 Main Street (now the New to You Thrift Shoppe). The sanctuary was further enhanced by memorial donations of the stained glass windows in the 1980’s.
In 1981 the church sponsored two Ethiopian refugees seeking to escape from fighting in their homeland. Subsequent years saw rises and falls in population and membership and the church responded to the changing needs. In 1990 an accessibility project was completed with installation of the tower elevator. The Interfaith Adult Day Care program began in 1995 and the nursery school programs were enlarged to serve increased enrollment.
We formed a Bell Choir in 1995, and we started feeding the hungry with the opening of the Soup Group in 2003. We continue to support our youth mission workers, camp attendees and CROP walkers.
The flame in our church logo represents the work of the Holy Spirit in the world and the two parts of the flame also represent the predecessor denominations, the Methodist church and the Evangelical United brethren, united at the base symbolizing the 1978 merger.
From its beginning, the Farmingdale United Methodist Church has been a center of Christian life in the community through its spiritual leadership, mission and social action. Today, as we celebrate our 177th year of spreading God’s love, we continue to foster personal growth and strengthen a relationship with God by opening our doors to the community through special holiday programs, music recitals, JC Café concerts, vacation bible school and yearly 9/11 observances. May we continue to bring glory to His name!