Wayne Methodist Episcopal Church, Wayne Estate

Up to the time of the ”delightful Sabbath afternoon in March” when in an informal way quite a number of the Methodist families met at the corner of Audubon and Runnymede avenues to discuss and examine a proposed new church site” all of the other three building locations under consideration had been in North Wayne. This change of base is interestingly explained by William Post in the “history” which prefaces the Minute Book proper.

It “had been brought about and deemed necessary”, according to Mr. Post, “in view of extensive building operations covering ground all the way to St. Davids Station on the south side. All the brethren at the time keenly felt the responsibility resting upon them in selecting the proper location for the church, with future needs and growth entering into the question, as well as present wants. And all concerned emphasized the purpose of sinking personal interests entirely in making a choice of a lot. In fact, a majority of the brethren in advocating a location on the south side of the railroad were taking the church no trifling distance from their own homes.”

The next step towards reaching a definite decision was a visit made to Frank Smith, superintendent of building of the Wayne Estate, by “Brothers A.M. Ware, James P.P. Brown and James Williamson, with a formal request that the plot of ground at the comer of Audubon and Runnymede avenues might be reserved for the society.”

As a result of this visit, Mr. Smith promised to have an early consultation with George W. Childs and report the outcome to the interested Methodists.

This was In March, 1890. On the following June 18, A.M. Ware reported that, after several conferences with various men connected with the Wayne Estate, “a plot of ground at the corner or Audubon and Runnymede avenues covering upward of one acre had been set apart for the use of the society.” However, the Wayne Estate would not formally present the deed “until such time as building operations upon the lot shall commence”, adding this clause which has a quaint sound to present day readers – “the estate also reserves the right to be consulted as to the location of the horse sheds upon the property.”

In the brief interval between the choice of the site of the church property and the date on which Mr. Child’s favorable answer had been received, definite steps had been taken towards the organization of a Methodist Society in Wayne.

“On an evening in early April”, according to Mr. Post’s history, “Mr. and Mrs. R.C. Ware kindly opened their home to the Wayne Methodists and while all could not be present, the following responded to the invitation, namely: Mr. and Mrs. James P.P. Brown. Miss Mary A. Brown, Mr. Joseph Williamson, Mr. and Mrs. A.M. Ware and Mr. and Mrs. William Post.

With Mr. Brown presiding, a discussion took place as “to the desirability and practicability of organizing a society at Wayne.” Whereupon all present, with one exception, “favored the establishment of a church society at once and the call of a pastor at moderate salary.” Mr. Williamson’s was the one dissenting voice and he was “frank in stating as his view that the time had not arrived to organize the movement.” However, he was not only overruled, but the others present made pledges “which guaranteed in greater part the success of the enterprise in a financial way for the first year.”

And with the written account of this meeting at Mr. & Mrs. R.C. Ware’s house, Mr. Post’s concise and interesting “history” in the forepart of the old Minute Book comes to an end, and the “Minute Record begins.

At this time the formal choice of name as the Wayne Methodist Episcopal Church was made. Under the guidance of James P.P. Brown as Class Leader, properly attested certificates were now presented by those who had been instrumental in starting the Methodist movement in Wayne.

Nine trustees, including Homer J. Hoey, Frank W. Carr, Joseph P.P. Brown, Ralston C. Ware, Arthur M. Ware, William Post, David Brown, Charles D. Smedley and James B. Carr, were elected. An offer from the Radnor Township School Board of one of the class rooms for a place of temporary worship was accepted. And announcement was made that Pastor Reverend Edwin M. Pickop would come to fill the pulpit for the summer.

Other matters that came up for favorable action at this time were the organization of a Sabbath School and the securing of a Church Charter. In connection with the former it is interesting to note that the time fixed for Sabbath School was 3:15 o’clock! Twilight service would follow “immediately thereafter at 4:30 o’clock.” Morning services were to be held at a quarter to eleven. Among minor matters mentioned in these early minutes are several that are interesting from the present day monetary point view. The committee on “Home for the Pastor” reported that “after much labor a suitable room with attention to the fact that, in the interval before the church was built, “services are held in school house opposite.”

28_image01The picture illustrating today’s column is a treasured old one of Mr. and Mrs. A.M. Ware, as they were about to leave their home on West Wayne avenue to attend church services. It has been lent to your columnist by the son and daughter of this early Wayne couple, Albert A. Ware and Mrs. Gertrude Ware Case.

Its exact date is not available, but it was probably taken in the 1890’s, as indicated by the clothes worn by the couple. The A.M. Ware home is the one at 116 West Wayne avenue, from which Dr. H. Lee Scott and his family recently moved. In the distant background of the picture the old Wayne Lyceum, later called the Wayne Opera House, and now known as the Colonial Building, is plainly to be seen.

(To be continued)