Our 200+ Year History
Zion Methodist Church was first established &
incorporated in 1803. The current building (built in 1834) and the
social hall across the street both have heat, air conditioning, rest
rooms and handicap ramps. Porchtown Church is proud to have been an
active beacon of faith in the community for more than 200 years.
CHURCH HISTORY PROVIDED BY BILL WRIGHT, SR.
- Earliest known photo of the church (note the closed shutters on the upper windows and familiar tombstones in foreground).
The land on which the Church, Cemetery and
Social Hall presently stand was donated by the John Porch family (for
whom the community is named) for the purpose of worshipping Almighty
God. The church became incorporated in 1803. Original historical records
of the church were lost when a fire partially destroyed the home of the
late Enos Veil of Iona, NJ, where the papers were kept. In an excerpt
from the book "History of Counties of Gloucester, Salem and Cumberland,
New Jersey," in 1828, "the people in the neighborhood determined to
erect a house of worship, so they set about felling and hewing the
timber and, in due time, the structure was completed." The church
traditionally celebrates the date of its founding as April 26, 1834, the
date marked on the church when the Zion Methodist Episcopal Church of
Franklin Township was started. Among the prominent founders of the
church were the families of John Porch, David Beasy, Matthias Crane,
Reuben Langley and Pearson Farnesworth.
The present church
building was erected after a fire destroyed the initial structure. The
church during this period of time was flourishing. When the civil
war ended, the nation was once again united and revivals were the most
popular media draw of the day. During this pinnacle of activity, the
church had two important elements of prosperity: faithfulness &
zeal. People from nearby Clayton, Franklinville, Iona, Malaga and Elmer
worshiped at this church at all-day meetings. Those coming from a
distance were entertained and fed in nearby homes.
church's sanctuary and open balcony used to be filled with worshippers
with the choir and organ in the balcony. It is believed in the early
1890s that the church was closed for a time due to low membership. When
the church reopened, Porchtown was on a circuit which included Malaga
and Willow Grove.
original horse/wagon shed where the Social Hall now stands. People
traveled from miles around to attend worship services here!
During the early 1900s, with the advent of the
horseless carriage (the car) the horse stable/wagon shed stationed
across the street was faded out. It is not known exactly when the
crescent moon was replaced with a modern rest room. Around 1927-31, the
balcony was enclosed and a heater was installed. Around 1947-50, the
enclosed balcony was divided into Sunday School rooms.
Porchtown was put on the circuit with Franklinville Church; and in
October 1956, it was put on the circuit with Friendship Methodist
Church in Monroeville. In recent times, it was on the Franklinville
Church circuit again. In 2002, the church gained its own identity and
flourished once again with the faithfulness and zeal of its original
members. Current members celebrate their Shared Ministry with Malaga
United Methodist Church - all to the glory of God and His Great Grace.
Over the years, the church and social hall buildings were maintained,
painted and upgraded including new siding, a white picket fence, front
porch, paved driveway and landscaping adding to its quaint beauty.
With the purchase of the trailer plus the home and land adjacent to the
social hall, we share a vision of more growth and prosperity as we
continue to faithfully make Disciples for Christ.