The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

October 12, 2012

Brookfield U.M. marks 175 years


BROOKFIELD — Brookfield United Methodist Church, 6951 Grove St. on the Village Green, will celebrate their 175th anniversary on Sunday. Church history has been impacted by fire, the stock market crash and a denomination merger.

A continental fellowship breakfast at 9 a.m. will feature several past ministers who will share memories of their tenures. An historical display of newspaper articles, pictures, maps and documents will be set up, and a written history of the church has been prepared.

At 10:45, a special worship service will include guest speaker and former church member, the Rev. Kenneth Chalker, senior pastor of University Circle United Methodist Church.

A tureen dinner will follow. No reservations are required.

In 1836, the annual meeting of the Erie Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church sent Rev. Stephen Hubbard and two assistants to the Hartford Circuit. A great revival took place during the year and the Brookfield church was established in 1837 as the Brookfield Methodist Episcopal Church.

Church trustees bought a public lot in the southeast corner of the Village Green from Samuel Hinckley, the original owner of Brookfield Township, between the old town hall and the cemetery. A small frame building that is believed to have been used by the Presbyterian church stood on the lot.

The church was dismantled some time after 1860 and a lot was purchased on the west side of the Green. A larger church was contracted to be built by Isaac Montgomery and Smith Clark for $2,200. It included a bell and bell tower that was first used when Montgomery died unexpectedly following the completion of the church. An addition was built around 1926 that included a social hall, kitchen and Sunday school rooms.

However, on the morning of Jan. 28, 1928, the furnace overheated and caught the church on fire, destroying it. The church used the town hall and the neighboring Brookfield Presbyterian Church for worship services and activities, but the congregation quickly made plans to rebuild.

A bigger lot was purchased on the east side of the Green and a larger church was planned. On Oct. 13, 1929, the cornerstone was laid and the church was renamed Wheeler Methodist Church in memory of Wayne B. Wheeler, the nationally known attorney for the Anti-Saloon League who was born in Brookfield and was instrumental in the passing of the 18th Amendment.

Two weeks later the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began. The church was dedicated Nov. 30, 1930, but services were held in the Sunday school room because the sanctuary would not be completed for another 12 years. Stained glass windows were added as memorial gifts in 1943.

In 1965, a fellowship hall/education wing was built and the church was renovated. When the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren denominations merged in 1968, the church changed its name to Brookfield United Methodist Church.

Recently the church has undergone extensive renovations including tying into sewers, paving its parking lot and adding energy-efficient windows and air conditioning to the fellowship hall.

The church has hosted the Brookfield Summerfest on the Green in August the last three years and has provided preschool education since 1970.