The History of Arcola United Methodist Church

Arcola United Methodist Church - Born in a Barn!!!

In 1838 Edward B. Force inherited from his father-in-law, Albert  Westervelt, a mill and a farm at Red Mills. A barn was built by Edward  Force a short distance south of the mill in 1840 and was outfitted with  seats in 1842 for Christian religious services. In 1843, Force donated a lot for construction of a Methodist Church. His neighbors contributed large logs to the mill to be used in the construction of the church. Rev. Manning  Force, Edward's brother, laid the cornerstone. (Information acquired  from the Bergen County Historical Society  website: “REDMILL AND ITS  HAUNTED HOUSE” by Kevin W. Wright)

           In 1843 The  Methodist Episcopal Church of Paramus at Red Mills was erected on the west side of Paramus Road, Paramus, NJ, (about where Mack Cali stands now), on land  that was deeded to the Methodist Conference by Edward B. Force. Trustees  incorporated the church on March 14, 1843 and Rev. Nicholas Vansant of  the Cross St. Methodist Episcopal Church of Paterson added Arcola to his  charge in April 1843.

         The name of the town had been  changed to Arcola in 1870. So, the name of the church was changed to The Methodist Episcopal Church at Arcola and recorded on May 12, 1873  .  The first parsonage was built along side the white frame church in 1873,  to be the home of the first married minister, Rev. Thomas Hall.

           In 1899 the original frame church was remodeled and enlarged. And in  1903 the parsonage was modernized with steam heat, a bath, and electric  lights. The church and the parsonage were all surrounded by a beautiful  park that was erected by E. D. Easton, who had purchased the Force Farm  in the 1850’s. In 1909 the pipe organ was installed in the church and  half the expense was paid for by Andrew Carnegie.

          On  St. Valentine’s Day in 1911 tragedy struck! The church, the parsonage,  and all records were destroyed by fire. Through the great kindness of  Mr. Easton, the land across the road was given to the church in exchange  for the former location. A new Tudor-style stone church was erected on  the east side of what is Paramus Road today. It was dedicated on October  13, 1911. On September 6, 1949, Easton’s Georgian home, was acquired to  be used as the “Parish House”.

          Through the years  Arcola’s Methodist Church has seen many a hard time and good times too.  This included World Wars I and II as well as the advent of suburbia and  the influx and decline of membership.

          But in 1968, The  Methodist Church united with The United Brethren of Christ Church to  become The United Methodist Church. At that time our local church became  The Arcola United Methodist Church.

          On December 9,  1989, Arcola United Methodist Church (AUMC) practiced it’s motto of  “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors” by entering into an agreement with  a Korean congregation to share church facilities. This congregation  became Arcola Korean United Methodist Church, (AKUMC). They built their  sanctuary next to a joint education building connecting the two  churches. We are two churches, sharing one property, serving one God.

           I wonder if Mr. Force had any idea of the impact he would have on his  community when he allowed his barn to be used for religious services!  Or, what Mr. Easton’s thoughts were when he switched properties after  the fire. Surely God had a plan and these men were important instruments  in this plan!

         Who knows what God has planned for our  future? Why don’t you come out and be a part of that future! We had  meager beginnings, just like Jesus had - WE WERE BORN IN A BARN!!!  HOW  AWESOME!.