Porchtown's History

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.
     The 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.   

The original horse/wagon shed where the Social Hall now stands. People traveled from miles around to attend worship services here!

Turn of the Century

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.
     In 1933, 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.