Celebrating 150 Years

This year Vineland First UMC marks 150 years of ministry and mission with the Vineland Community. This page is dedicated to news, pictures, and events open for the entire Vineland Community to join with us as we celebrating the life and ministry of Vineland First. We pray that you will consider joining us as we lift up the blessings God has given us... the ability to be in worship and mission with all of you!
Below is an article that was prepared for the Grapevine (a Vineland free publication) by one of our church members, Adrienne Possenti:



VINELAND - The congregation of the First United Methodist Church has been worshiping and serving the Lord in Vineland for 150 years.  The first sermon preached by a Methodist minister in Vineland was delivered in a barn at Myrtle Street and Landis Avenue in 1863.  Vineland’s Methodists were eager to build their own church.  It is recorded that Charles K. Landis not only donated the land on which the church is built, he was the first and most generous financial contributor to the Methodist pioneers of the 1860’s.  In November, 1864, the first sermon was delivered in the basement of the partially completed structure.  In December of that year, a Sunday School was formed.  Construction was completed in 1868.  


150 Anniversary

In keeping with the temperance movement in the 1860’s, during the founding of Vineland, Dr. Thomas Welch, a member of First United Methodist Church, developed the process of unfermented wine.   This historic effort by Dr. Welch initiated the use of grape juice for Communion services in Protestant churches.  Today, the name Welch is synonymous with grape juice, jelly and jam and continues to be served as a symbol of the sacrament in churches throughout the nation.  In honor of one of First United Methodist’s most prominent figures, the congregation plans to celebrate Dr. Welch throughout their sesquicentennial.   


The 1930’s brought one of the worst economic depressions in this country’s history.  It was during that era that the original church building, made of wood, was destroyed by fire.  On December 18, 1931, several members were in the sanctuary preparing for Christmas festivities.  That evening, a passer-by saw smoke billowing from the church.   At 2:00 a.m. the entire building exploded into flames. At 2:45 a.m. the bell tower crashed to the ground.  Through the heroic efforts of the community’s firemen, the new Sunday School Temple, which remains today, was saved.   Film footage of that fire has been restored.  “Up From the Ashes We Arose” will be shown to the public during the 11:00 a.m. Sunday worship service on April 14, 2013. 


In 1933 a new, more beautiful house of worship was constructed.  A 14th century Gothic style church rose from the ashes and proudly features a flight of stone steps and a pair of double oak doors at the Landis Avenue entrance, a Moller pipe organ, and a marble altar with an oil mural of Christ that welcomes all who enter the sanctuary.  Seventeen stained glass windows rival those of the finest cathedrals in Europe. 


The newly established History Hall and renovated church library features artifacts and photo displays of the people throughout history who directly contributed to the formation of First Church, including pastors both past and present.  An architectural finial that survived the church fire of 1931 is being preserved and considered to be an amazing find.   This memorabilia will also be on exhibit during August and September at the Vineland Public Library, 1058 E. Landis Ave.   Commemorative First Church tote bags will be offered to interested buyers. 


“Past Pastors” and other notable Methodists will be guests of honor during the “Welcome Back” worship service on Sunday, September 29 at 11:00 a.m.   


A performance by the Philadelphia Brigade Band is scheduled for late fall.  The exact date and time is to be announced.  

Civil War Concert

The Philadelphia Brigade Band is a Civil War era brass band.   More than 20 musicians appear in authentic Civil War uniforms with both period and reproduction instruments to provide military and social music of the late 1800’s.  Playing the piccolo, cornet, alto and tenor horn, baritone, tuba and percussion, the group performs the same military and social music that was presented to entertain the troops; console loved ones who lost family members or welcome home weary soldiers during the Civil War.


To culminate the celebration, a Sesquicentennial Dinner is planned for Saturday, November 16 at 5:00 p.m. in the Crossley Social Hall.         


“This is an exciting time to worship at First United Methodist Church.  The work of the Lord continues daily, as parishioners serve to bring Christ’s message of salvation to the Vineland community” Adrienne Possenti, First United Methodist Church Sesquicentennial Committee Member said.