History of Wesley Methodist Church
- from Our Heritage Cookbook compiled by the Chancel Choir & Friends, Aldersgate United Methodist Church, 1997 (originally from the 1949 Wesley Methodist 100th Anniversary Celebration). [Wesley and Chapline Street Methodist Churches merged to form Aldersgate Church in 1966. Wesley Methodist Church was located at 3718 Jacob Street.]
HISTORY OF WESLEY METHODIST CHURCH
The Industrial town of Ritchietown, where Wesley was first organized, became a part of Wheeling on February 3, 1871. Ritchietown did not support a newspaper and for that reason, news items of that early date are very scarce.
On July 22, 1850, Reverend William Summers and the Presiding Elder, Reverend T. M. Judson purchased, through the Merchants and Mechanics Bank which is now the National Exchange Bank of Wheeling, Lots 3 and 4 in Square 25 for the purpose of erecting a House of Worship. A substantial one-story brick building was erected and dedicated one year later by Reverend Cornelius Battelle and Dr. James M. Drummond, the Pastor. The first Trustees were James M. Wheate, William Montgomery, James Flowers, Joseph Pedley, Henry Otte, Abner Charnock, James Robinson and Joseph Woods. The Sunday School was organized in the very beginning with Prof. White as Superintendent, James Wheate, Assistant Superintendent, Joseph Woods, Treasurer, Joseph Norton, Secretary and John Parks the Librarian. The pupils numbered 100.
Wesley made a slow but sure growth and in 1855 became a Station Church. Pastors came and departed, each one doing his part to build the Spiritual Life of the Church.
In 1870 through the labors of the people and Rev. John McCartney a two storied Brick Building, measuring 40 feet by 60 feet, was erected on the old site at the cost of $7,000.00 dollars. This new building was dedicated by Rev. I. C. Pershings, D.D. who was President of the Pittsburgh Female College and Rev. McCartney, Pastor.
In January of 1878 when Rev. W. E. Rippey was the Pastor 200 people were converted and pledged their faith to God. In this year the Church was again repaired and redecorated both upstairs and down, and the Sunday School had grown to over 300 pupils and officers. At this time Wesley was given the credit for being the best organized and conducted School in the City and State. The Officers of the Church were:
Pastor — Rev. W. E. RippeyClass Leaders — Francis Flood, B. T. Criswell and George T. Bryson.Recording Steward — Francis Flood.Stewards — Ephraim Jackson, J. R. Bryson, G. T. Bryson, Joseph Archey, Joseph Voitle and George S. Pownall.
The year 1884 brought the disastrous flood in which the precious records of Wesley were destroyed.
Rev. D. L. Ash, the beloved Pastor of many of our living Members came in the year 1886 to be the Leader for five years.
Wesley was growing. Again it was deemed necessary to enlarge the building. The modern pressed brick front was erected adding 12 feet to the front of the building. New seats were purchased, the Lecture Room was painted and the Auditorium was frescoed at the cost of $6,000.00 dollars, which was provided for in cash and subscription before the work was begun. The Ladies Aid Society purchased the new carpet. The Church was reopened on March 2nd, 1890 with Bishop I. W. Joyce officiating.
From this point in Wesley's History begins the work of many of our present members, who, through giving of their Prayers, their Time, and their Talents have kept Wesley Serving.
The Membership continued to grow. Each year revival services were held and people were converted and joined the Church. The Sunday School's enrollment reached 400 including Officers and Pupils.
Once again the subject of repairing the Church Auditorium was considered. This time the workers in the Sunday School decided to undertake the repairs. On Sunday November 1st, 1908, the Committee was named as follows:
Chairman — Mr. W. G. Cunningham. Superintendent of Work — Mr. G. W. Caldbaugh.Secretary & Treasurer —Clarence V. Haynes.S. V. McCuskey, J. Ed Cunningham, L. R. Rago, Irvin Gould and the Pastor, Rev. C. B. Graham.
Considerable time was spent in getting the plans in shape but finally the Contracts were given with the approximate cost at $1,500.00 dollars.
A lively campaign was started with everyone willingly working to raise the necessary funds to do the needed work. The beautiful windows that are enjoyed today were installed; the metal ceiling was put in place, the auditorium was frescoed and beautiful lighting fixtures were hung.
It was surely a day of rejoicing when on September 5th, 1909, the Church was again reopened with most appropriate Services under the direction of Rev. C. B. Graham.
It is very fitting to say that Mrs. George Carroll, Sr. was the Organist, Mrs. L. R. Crago and Miss Ella Mae Bowers were the Soloists for the occasion.
During these years Wesley enjoyed a large Congregation and a growing Sunday School. Happy days were spent with friends doing the work of the Master.
In the year 1912 Wesley took part in the Billy Sunday Revival because of which many people accepted Jesus as their Saviour and a number joined Wesley's rank and have been faithful.
The years passed on and in 1919, June 9th, through the efforts of Mr. W. R. Cooey, the lovely Pipe Organ that is enjoyed today was dedicated adding dignity to the already lovely Services which are prepared for each Sunday.
The Ladies Aid Society was the indispensible Organization of Wesley and many times the Ladies under their able Leadership came to the rescue when funds were needed.
The Epworth League was the popular training Organization for the young people and we must not forget the Woman's Foreign and Home Missionary Societies, both doing a marvelous work, helping to build the Master's Kingdom by sharing Wesley with the less privileged peoples on earth.
Wesley still goes on under the direction and Leadership of the Pastors who came to help. Each one gave their best to further the cause of Christ.
In these latter days many joys and many sorrows which try the faith of all people have been experienced but, through the grace of God somehow all obstacles are overcome.
In the year 1940 the Wheeling District Womans Society of Christian Service was organized in Wesley with delegates from over the District numbering 200 in attendance. This was a single honor since the Womans Society of Christian Service is the Official Organization for Woman in the New Methodist Church and the greatest Womans organization around the Globe.
Now we are celebrating our 100 years of Service — 1849-1949 — these are long years but Wesley was wrought well and has stood the test. What a feeling of deep appreciation and happiness should pervade the hearts of the Members as they gather round the Banquet table on June 15th with Bishop Lloyd C. Wicke and Pastor Rev. Durward T. Goodwin. God has bestowed a rare privilege on the people who are "carrying on" at Wesley. May the prayers that ascend to the throne of Grace be filled with humility and thankfulness petitioning God that the little Church may stand many, many more years on the busiest street where the heart of God is found.