HISTORY IN BRIEF
Making disciples for Jesus Christ year-round on this sandy eighteen-mile stretch that once was all salt marsh, beach plum, bayberry and sand dunes, First United Methodist Church became part of the community: reaching out to help others. Situated five miles south of the Causeway, Route 72 East, the church is in the heart of Beach Haven Terrace at 130th Street and Beach Avenue.
Feeling the need to communicate with God and to sing praises, a dozen or so people met on the beach on a Sunday evening in 1912 after the train had departed from the Island. This was the beginning of the church in Beach Haven Terrace, known at that time as Sabbath Union. Later, services were held at the Clearview Hotel, Delaware and Beach Avenues. Services were also held at the Community Hall where ministers from Kynett Church preached on Sunday evenings. Thus, the connection with Kynett, its sister church sharing ministerial support, began in the early days. It was not until 1929 that the name Methodist Church of Beach Haven Terrace was adopted.
Much later, on April 23, 1968, the word "united" was added when the United Methodist Church was formed with union of the Evangelical United Brethren Church (represented by Bishop Reuben H. Mueller) and the Methodist Church (represented by Bishop Lloyd Christ Wicke) at the connecting General Conference in Dallas, Texas. One of the highlights of Bishop Wicke's career was chairing the committee of The Methodist Church that drew up the proposal, leading to the 1968 denominational merger with the Evangelical United Brethren Church (EUB). During the uniting service in Dallas, Wicke symbolically clasped hands with EUB Bishop Reuben H Mueller, across a table bearing the Plan of Union. As they did, they prayerfully said together: "Lord of the Church, we are united in Thee, in Thy Church and in the United Methodist Church."
THE CONNECTED MINISTRY
Terrace Church and Kynett Church shared many ministers over the years. But changing times bring changing needs. A new sanctuary was erected by the Mancini Builders, completed May 23, 1975, all in five months. Joe Mancini, current Mayor of Long Beach Township, was married to Julie there the next day! Then twenty years later, the members realized that the existing structure used for Christian Education, meetings, dinners, and fellowship was in poor repair. Also, at this time, both the Terrace Church and Kynett Church wanted to exist as independent charges with their own ministers. A vote was taken and Annual Conference acquiesced in 1999.
THE BUILDING PROJECT
In February 2001, the church finished the building project: debt free, providing a new wing with Sunday School rooms, baths and showers on the second floor; Fellowship hall, kitchen, church office and nursery on the first floor. The total cost was $711,000.00 included architect's fees, surveying, sidewalks, furniture and trailer rentals. Dick Holmes was Building Project Chairperson, and the Reverend Ron Sager was Pastor during these two expansion years. Funding was raised for the Building Project largely through pledges and Friday night monthly dinners, chaired by Elizabeth Brogdon: fried chicken in the spring and fall; roast beef in the summer and winter.
The old bell, originally on the church tower, was moved from the top of the Beach Avenue building, reconditioned and placed on the top of the 1975 church structure. New siding and roofing were added. Landscaping, including a brick/paver patio area, with dedicated bricks, was completed. A stained glass window project (eight windows in the sanctuary) was initiated in 1999 and independently funded, installed and completed in November 2001. The windows were dedicated to the glory of God in the spring of 2002, adding beauty and inspiration to the worship experience.
The Terrace and Kynett Churches and Conference decided to return to a yoked ministry in 2006. The Reverend Boyd L Fox, Jr came to Long Beach Island to serve in this very special ministry with worship at the Terrace at 9:00 AM and at Kynett at 10:30 AM. Reverend Fox introduced shared services for the two churches during the winter and early spring months of 2011. Worship was held alternately by month at Kynett and at Terrace.
The Reverend Diane Ruth Gilbert was appointed at Annual Conference in June, 2011, to serve the two-point charge on Long Beach Island.
On August 19, 2012, the Terrace Church celebrated its 100th Anniversary. A special service was held and attended by two of the former pastors: the Reverend Boyd L Fox, Jr and his wife Christine of Woodbury NJ and the Reverend Margaret (Pat) Stiles of Myrtle Beach SC. Mayor Joseph Mancini presented the church with a proclamation; the Pastor read a proclamation from Jerry Little, Director of Freeholders of Ocean County.
Many worked behind the scenes for this special celebration. A 100th Anniversary cookbook was created for sale. Included are several recipes from the dinners held at the church. A special pen and ink sketch of the church was commissioned; a celebratory luncheon was held.
Throughout the rebuilding, a cohesive ministry of the "outstretched hand" has continued. "The little church that friendship built" has become "the little church that friendship builds" with an emphasis on the continuing nature of building and reaching out to serve the needs of the community and the world beyond.
Of special interest have been the Sunday School programs, which are offered in the summer months.
The Fellowship Group and Bible Study are constants held at the Terrace Church. Bible Study is held at 10:30 AM on Tuesday mornings and the Fellowship Group meets the first Friday of each month at 6:00 PM with a buffet supper, where each family brings a covered dish.
Other constants are the vital groups of the United Methodist Men and United Methodist Women of LBI. Both are organizations supported by each church.
Indeed, this little church is alive and well and still building.