A History of Our Church

 

Methodist services were held in Clinton as early as 1816. In those days, services were held by itinerant preachers, known as circuit riders, who rode horseback from place to place. According to church and Clinton historians, the first local Methodist meetings were held in the large kitchen of John Gregory, a potter, whose house is believed to be what is now the rear portion of the Owens Funeral Home on College Street. For the next 25 years, meetings were held in various homes and buildings.

The prime mover in establishing a permanent church home was Walter Gillespie, a blacksmith whose shop was located in the Fountain Street hollow across from the present Clinton Cinema. Mr. Gillespie and Dr. Joseph Cornell, a newcomer to Clinton, felt there was a growing need for a church building. An opportunity arose when they jointly purchased property on the east side of the Clinton green (East Park Row).

The church was consecrated on January 1, 1842. Mr. Gillespie performed much of the construction himself, and for years afterward acted as sexton, even furnishing the fuel and lighting materials from his own funds.

The Reverend John H. Hall was the first pastor of the new church. This building–which now houses the Kirkland Art Center–was not at first as we see it today. Inside there were box pews and a gallery. In 1868 the building was extensively remodeled; the addition of a steeple and bell changed the exterior to its present architectural style. The original bell cracked as the result of much use as a village fire alarm and was replaced in 1883.

As the Methodist congregation grew, additional space was required. Expansion was impractical because the building foundation walls extended to the very edges of the lot. A site for a new, larger church was sought.

 

Our present church building was built on the former Thomas Britcher farm and consecrated on May 1, 1966.  The old organ and bell were brought to the Utica Road site.  The bell is now on display in front of the building in a memorial setting.  The organ was extensively refurbished in 1997.  The first church parsonage was purchased in 1853 through the efforts of Marshall W. Baker.  This was shortly sold and a new parsonage was erected on Fountain Street.  The current parsonage is the white frame house next to the church.  The Reverend Jeffrey Hale is the 48th pastor to serve our church family.