By Robert A. Saal

Commack Methodist Church 150 Years Old

The Brooklyn Eagle
Friday August 25, 1934.

      Sunday was 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.

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