Commack Methodist Church 150 Years Old
Friday August 25, 1934.
an important day for members of the Commack Methodist Church. For at that time
they celebrated the 150th year of the old church. The service was held at 7:30
in the evening and the choir from St. Paul’s Methodist Church of Northport
furnished the fine music, and St. Paul’s pasture the Rev. Wm. Christi, Craig
preached. He read excerpts from the diary of Chas. Hawkins, father of Judge
Richard Hawkins, as follows.
The church is the oldest Methodist meeting house on
Long Island, erected in Commack in 1789. The first society was organized in the
home of a locale preacher, a tailor who made clothes for the British soldiers
during the Revolutionary War. Among the first trusties were James Hubbs, who
built the church, Samuel Brush, Jacob Wheeler, John Clark, Samuel Wheeler,
Manhanna Robin’s, Morris Burr, Smith Brush, Neimer Brush, and Joel Rogers, who
joined the first class in Centerport.
A very strong Methodist society had been formed in
Commack, it being one of the oldest on the island, the oldest in the county, and
occupying the oldest Methodist building on the island. Winnecomac, as first
called, is one of the oldest villages in the middle of the island, was so named
for an Indian chief. Doubtless members of their society lived at Northport, and
Centerport. As it is known that there were people in these villages who united
with the church as early as 1783.
In 1803 members of the Commack society assisted in the
organization of a class meeting at the home of Joseph Higbi in Centerport. This
class was conducted by Mr. Higbi for many years, and increased in strength with
preaching services being added whenever a preacher was available.
The first camp meeting held on Long Island was at
Kelsey’s Wood’s on the west side of the harbor were it was attended by the
people from Huntington, Commack, and all the territory from miles around. Many
converts were won at these meetings which were conducted by the presiding elder
Rev. Joseph Crawford. Among other converts at this time there was a young man by
the name of Wm. Brown who later became a preacher and member of the conference.
This camp was held regularly for a number of years and being largely attended
was a great influence in the firm establishment of local Methodism.
The Rev, Edward Warren in his manuscript for The
History of Methodism on Long Island, which unfortunately was never published
said, The people occupied tents constructed of poles and blankets, and those who
came in boats used the sails for tents.
One of the results
of these meetings was the forming of a society at Huntington. This society how
ever did not last very long and the remaining members came to Centerport to
worship with the local Methodists.
The first quarterly meeting for which there is
locale record was held in August of 1806, the year of the first camp meeting.
These quarterly meetings of a century ago were notable affairs usually lasting
two days. They began on Saturday when all business for the entire circuit was
transacted. Sunday started with a love feast at 8 or 9 o’clock, and other
services were held at short intervals trough out the day. At the community
service only those holding tickets issued by the class leaders were admitted,
and tickets were only given to those who had been regular attendants at the
class, and who wore no rings on their fingers, earrings in their ears, or
flowers in their bonnet, or other superless adornment. These quarterly meetings
amounted to a two day camp meeting were the people came together for a radius of
15 to 20 miles. At about this time was converted also a Moses Rogers who became
a local preacher of great influence, and a tower of strength to local Methodism.
Those who met
there Sunday evening were very comfortable do to the heat of a pipe-less
furnace. But those first worshipers were some what handicapped in this respect
in as they had to bring along there own foot stoves to meetings, and if they
happened to be lucky enough to have there stoves continue to heat for
many hours they would share the stoves with others. The church is built in
simple architecture, and the furnishings are in keeping with the style. The Rev.
Larry Westinn s in charge. There is an active Sunday School of which Mrs. Mae
Shea is superintendent. And the Ladies Aid Society is under the direction of
Mrs. Paul Goldsmith. Lawrence Hurd is the president of The Young Peoples
Society. It is interesting to note that in the entire time no weddings were held
here until about three years ago.
The early records have all been destroyed. But those
record who served as pasture included The Rev, Moses Rogers, Chas Stern, Thomas
Cornell, Robert Coblin, Wm. Latin, W Dazzle, George W Service, G F Roberts, J N
Crane, J H Stansburry, Juilius Nelson, J T Stanford, C C Coil, Edmund Silverbran,
Wesley A Muller, J H Cottling, H A Carter, Arthur A Ball, Chas E William’s, and
others including the present pasture.