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Christ United Methodist Church

Christ United Methodist Church; Photo courtesy of Harvey S. Martin
Photo courtesy of Harvey S. Martin

600 E Dutton Mill Rd.
Brookhaven, PA 19015-1005

Phone: (610) 874-1270

Visit Christ United Methodist's web site at: http://users.snip.net/~cumc/

Former Pastors  |  Church History  |   Membership Directory

If you have any information and or pictures that you would like to contribute about the history of this church, please forward it to john@oldchesterpa.com

Former Pastors 1949 – October 31, 1971:  Ellsworth L. Jennings*

1971 – 1983: Howard K. Vassallo

July 10, 1983 – June 2003: Guy L. Kessler

June 2003 - Present: Zabdiel Khan

* During the pastorate of Rev. Jennings South Chester Methodist Episcopal Church became South Chester United Methodist Church. This was accomplished by the merger of the Methodist Church with the United Evangelical Bretheren Church. In 1965 South Chester United Methodist Church moved from its Chester location to Middletown Township, Delaware County, PA and became Christ United Methodist Church.

Church History

Historical Highlights
South Chester Methodist Episcopal Church
Christ United Methodist Church

Dennis H. Bartow, bartoden@comcast.net
Church Historian/Archivist

November 2000

During the Winter of 1865, a number of persons, mostly members of Trinity Methodist Church, met at the home of Mr. William Gallow, Fifth Street and Central Avenue, Chester, Pa., and organized a Sunday School. Mr. Gallow was elected Superintendent. The following year, the Sunday School was given the use of the public school building at Third and Jeffrey Streets.

The earliest records available are dated August 9, 1867, and show that the work during these first years was under the supervision of Reverend Isaac Most, pastor of Trinity Methodist Church. Records also show that classes and prayer meetings were held in homes under the leadership of Mr. B.F. Smith, and that there were many revival meetings and a number of conversions during this period.

In 1871, there was a strong sentiment for a new church, and, about that time, according to church records, Colonel N.L. Yarnall, who was a member of what was Madison Street Methodist Episcopal Church, drew his letter and placed it in Trinity Methodist Church so that he might assist in this new work. He soon secured a lot at Third and Jeffrey Streets from Mr. John M. Broomall for $1 and was deeded to the Trustees of South Chester Methodist Episcopal Church.

A chapel was built and dedicated November 24, 1971. The following spring Reverend S.W. Gehrett was appointed pastor. On May 27, 1872, the first Quarterly Conference was held and the church was formally organized with the following Trustees:

N.L. Yarnall
James McGuiness
John McDowell
Thomas Clayton
M.D. Gray
William Fow
Henry Bartow
John Marshall
James Byram

Local Preachers were : N.L. Yarnall and Clark Watson

Stewards were:
J. McDowell
C. Watson
N.L. Yarnall
Henry Young
M.D. Gray
W.K. McBride
A.H. Buckley

On April 28, 1875, a charter was granted by the county board. Then in 1886, during the pastorate of Rev. I.M. Gable, the brick chapel was carried back a distance of 200 feet and the corner stone for the present church was laid. The church was dedicated in 1887.

For many years the church structure remained the same. The tall church steeple, a landmark in South Chester, was damaged by lightning and in October 1946, during the pastorate of Reverend J.G. Eaton, the steeple was removed and a bronze cross erected. In 1952, under the pastorate of Reverend Ellsworth L. Jennings, this cross was painted white and lighted so that it could be seed for a considerable distance.

In 1962 travelers on Dutton’s Mill Road in Brookhaven would have seen a sign reading "On this site will be erected a METHODIST CHURCH the new home of the South Chester Methodist Church." It marked the site of a seven acre tract of land, including the present parsonage, which was purchased by the Conference Board of Missions. By March 1965 the building site was cleared of trees, and on April 18, 1965, a large gathering of church members participated in the Groundbreaking Service under the direction of Rev. Ellsworth L. Jennings, Pastor of the church, with the Rev. Dr. John D. Herr, District Superintendent of the South District of the Philadelphia Conference in attendance. Also representing the Conference was Rev. Dr. Paul W. Poley, of the Board of Church Extensions. Local church officials participating in the service wee Mrs. Frances Spiegel, Cultivations Superintendent of the Sunday School; Mrs. Annie Ashby, oldest active member of the church; Mr. William Szlemko, Chairman of the Building Committee; Mrs. Katheryn Hause, President of the Woman’s Society of Christian Service; Mr. Raymond Robinson, Lay Leader; and Mr. William Spicer, President of the Board of Trustees.






EASTER, April 18, 1965

E.L. Jennings, Pastor

John D. Herr, South District Superintendent


THE HYMN, 1 vs., The Church’s One Foundation


THE PRAYER (OBG) - followed with the LORD’S PRAYER (unison)



Then as each of those selected turns a spadeful of earth, the minister shall say one of the following sentences (as found in the Office of Ground Braking) to which the people shall respond with the words, WE BREAK THIS GROUND TODAY.

Sentence from (OBG) as person turns a spadeful of earth.


Then the minister shall say, the people responding.

Minister – The Lord be with you.


Let us pray. (Prayer by the minister and response by the people.)

M – Almighty and everlasting God, in communion with the saints in all the ages, & remembering the heritage that has been given us, we offer Thee our praise and thanksgiving.

PEOPLE – o lord, hear our prayer.

M – Help us to accept the privilege & responsibility of this Thy fellowship of faith; here may we keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.


M – Enable us, by Thy grace, to dedicate ourselves this day to the solemn task which Thou dost lay upon our hearts and consciences.


M – Reveal to us the beauty of Thy perfect law and the joy of our living Lord, that with glad hearts we may show forth our thankfulness, and serve Thee all our days to the glory of Thy blessed name.


THE DOXOLOGY, Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow.


August the By June 5th the site had been leveled, surveyed and staked, and by July 4th, 1965, the sanctuary beams were in place and the block and brick of the fellowship hall and classrooms was rising. In August the building was under roof and by late steeple was in place as reported by the Chester Times of August 28, 1965: 

The steeple was erected this week on the new building of South Chester Methodist Church, presently under construction on Dutton Mill Road. The 31-foot steeple rises from a square base on the ridge of the roof. A five-foot belfry section, diamond in shape with aluminum louvers on four sides supports a 23-foot spire and cross. The interior section of structural steel, is anchored to the roof. The exterior is one-eighth inch aluminum with white vinyl finish and the Latin cross has been treated with a gold anodized finish. The congregation hopes to occupy the building by the middle of October, according to Rev. Ellsworth L. Jennings, pastor.

Throughout the Fall, the interior appointings were put in place, though the completion of the construction took longer than anticipated and it was not until January 23rd, 1965 that the last service was scheduled at "Old South Chester". As luck would have it, that service was "snowed out," and the next Sunday, February 6, 1965 marked the first service at the new church. Sunday School was held at 9:45 AM and the worship service at 11:00 AM, conducted by Reverend Jennings. On Sunday, September 18, 1966 Bishop Fred Pierce Corson consecrated the new church. Fund raising continued and through many generous gifts the fifteen year mortgage was satisfied in just two and one-half years. On November 24, 1968 Bishop J. Gordon Howard, Rev. Walter R. Hazzard, South District Superintendent and Rev. Ellsworth Jennings led the service of dedication and official burning of the mortgage.

Reverend Jennings continued his ministry at Christ United Methodist Church until his retirement on October 31, 1971. He had served 23 years as pastor at South Chester and Christ Church and a total of 41 years in the ministry. Rev. Howard K. Vassallo was appointed as interim pastor, and was appointed pastor at the next conference and served Christ Church for the next twelve years.

On June 19, 1983 the congregation at Madison Street United Methodist Church merged with Christ Church bringing together many friends in the new suburban location. The ceremony was formalized with the signing of the merger document by John Bullock and M. Francis Cullis representing Madison Street and Joseph Pitale and June Picciano representing Christ Church. On July 10, 1983 Rev. Guy L. Kessler began his pastorate at Christ Church and faithfully serves our congregation ably assisted by his wife Nancy.

The year 1995 marked a second "joining" of our congregation. With the closing of Providence Avenue United Methodist Church, ninety-four members of the congregation chose to join Christ Church by letter of transfer. Throughout our thirty-four years at our present location the congregation has been bulwarked by the traditions of our parent congregations and enhanced by the many members from the Brookhaven area who have joined in the ministry of Christ Church. We look forward to many more years in God’s service at 600 Dutton Mill Road.

The Church is its people. Buildings were raised, moved, enlarged, sold or transferred. Through God’s grace, Old South Chester became Community Church and most recently, the New Jerusalem Church. Madison Street continues as the Wesley House, a homeless shelter, and Providence Avenue is now the sanctuary of Asbury African Methodist Episcopal Church. New congregations now worship God from these locations. Our congregation remains strong and ministers in Jesus' name. May God continue to bless us in the years ahead.

Dennis H. Bartow
Church Historian/Archivist


Pastors of South Chester Methodist Episcopal Church

1872 – 1874 S.W. Gehrett

1874 – 1875 David McKee

1875 – 1876 Matthew Sirin

1876 – 1877 John B. Maddux

1877 – 1878 David M. Gordon

1878 – 1880 Abel Howard

1880 – 1883 Eli Pickersgill

1883 – 1884 Matthew Barnhill

1884 – 1887 Israel M. Gabel

1887 – 1889 N.B. Durrel

1889 – 1892 Jerome Lindenmuth

1892 – 1895 Thomas Kelly

1895 – 1897 I.M. Griffith

1897 – 1899 A.I. Collom

1899 – 1903 Israel M. Gable

1903 – 1906 S.W. Smith

1906 – 1908 J.G. Cornwell

1908 – 1909 T.S. Minker

1909 – 1912 A.M. Witwer

1912 – 1916 George W. Sheetz

1916 – 1919 A.F. Taylor

1919 – 1922 E.F. Hoffman

1922 – 1924

1924 – 1928 A.J. Kimker

1928 – 1932 M.H. Nichols

1932 – 1933 Alexander McConagy

1933 – 1936 J.E. Gallagher

1936 – 1941 E.H. Blackman

1941 – 1949 J.G. Eaton

1949 – 1971 Ellsworth L. Jennings*

1971 – 1983 Howard K. Vassallo

1983 – Present Guy L. Kessler

* During the pasotorate of Rev. Jennings South Chester Methodist Episcopal Church became South Chester United Methodist Church. This was accomplished by the merger of the Methodist Church with the United Evangelical Bretheren Church. In 1965 South Chester United Methodist Church moved from its Chester location to Middletown Township, Delaware County, PA and became Christ United Methodist Church.



2000, 2004, 2005 John A. Bullock III.

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This page last updated 02/24/07