Over a hundred years ago a group of stalwart Christians of the Methodist Persuasion met to start a church. They were united with a shared need for a Methodist congregation in the Brooklyn area beyond Prospect Park, between Coney Island and Flatbush Avenue.
The early founders of this Church had moved from the congregation of downtown Brooklyn seeking new homes on Ocean, Church and Flatbush Avenues. They met an area steeped in Dutch history with the Dutch Reformed Church serving as the main place of worship. Not willing to part with their Methodist beliefs, these newcomers began to meet regularly at 940 Ocean Avenue, home of Mr. Edmund H. Briggs, to organize their own church during the first three months of 1903. They called their new church St. Mark's Methodist Church. The first pastor, Rev. John H. Willey, was appointed on April 8, 1903.
The Jahn Mansion on Ocean Avenue between Beverly and Regent Place was rented as a place of worship for the young church on April 13 1903. This is where St. Mark's held its first service on April 19, 1903. Their fervent desire for their own church was not satisfied by worshipping in a rented building so, the church founders located and purchase the northeast corner of Ocean Avenue and Beverly Road for $13,750. Later the cornerstone of the church was laid on October 20, 1903. The dedication of a new church edifice was made on March 18, 1906. The church was henceforth referred to as St. Mark's Methodist Episcopal Church.
As the young church grew in membership, there arose a need for expansion to accommodate the various activities of the church community. The annex to the church was to be known as the Parish House or the Church House. In 1909 a member of the church Mr. Paul Ihrig bought a lot on Beverly Road and 21st Street and kept it as his own expense until the Church could pay for it.
Later, another church member Dr. Joseph offered to donate $25,000 towards the building the Parish House, if the church could match the amount. Members of St. Mark's raised the amount of $28,586. An auditorium was also to form part of the Parish House. Dr. Adams donated another $25,000 at the dedication of the Parish House on December 26, 1926. In recognition of his generosity the auditorium was named Adams Memorial Hall after his son John H. Adams Jr. who had lost his life tragically by drowning in 1911.
On April 23, 1968 in Dallas Texas the Methodist Episcopal Church joined the Evangelical United Brethren with whom it shared theology, doctrine and a similar Book of Discipline. The union resulted in what we now know as the United Methodist Church.
All Methodist Episcopal Churches, including St. Mark’s changed their names to reflect the new order of things. From that time the church has become known as St. Mark's United Methodist Church.
The church began to actively serve her community and nation at large. The church played a major role in the formation of at least three congregations namely Kings Highway Methodist Church, Premiere Eglise (Haitian Church) and the Ghana Wesley United Methodist Church.
The congregation at that time contributed $23,000 towards construction costs and assumed full cost of a room in the Rev. Stanley Miner Pavilion at the same hospital.
This tablet in 1919 a Memorial Tablet was erected in memory of 121 members of St. Mark's who served in World War I. This tablet can be seen on the left side of the Altar. In 1947 a Memorial Chapel was erected to honor those 13 church members who died in World War II. Even today St. Mark's members continue to heed the call of their country.
St. Mark's has also helped the local community by providing instruction and care for children through its early childhood program.
Again a member, Ms. Emily Spickler was instrumental in setting up this program. St. Mark's has also set up a Feeding Program and a Senior’s Program. Besides serving the Community the church has always encouraged and supported those who felt called to work in ordained ministry. Many members and student pastors passed through our halls to become pastors of their own church.
The Flatbush Seventh-day Adventist Church which organized in the fall of 1972, after meeting as a mission since 1969 was a fledgling group that sought more space. At first they relocated to a street level unit of a commercial building and then to the Zion Lutheran Church. In 1973, they negotiated an agreement to meet at our church- St. Mark's Methodist Church and worshipped here. In 1982, the congregation purchased the former Third Church of Christ, Scientist, located on East 21st Street near Albemarle Road, and held their first service there on July 31, 1982.
St. Mark's made the news in THE BROOKLYN EAGLE also called The Brooklyn Daily Eagle; it was the most popular afternoon paper in the United States at one point. Walt Whitman was its editor for two years.
When the church house and community center opened, it was a newsworthy event because of its size and its staggering cost by 1900 standards of $300,000. According to the Brooklyn Eagle an entire week was dedicated to its opening so that the Flatbush and other Brooklyn communities could celebrate its completion.
As mentioned earlier, St. Mark's United Methodist Church has a long history in the community, click on the links below to view newspaper articles about St. Mark's that appeared in world renowned "The New York Times”.
Rev. Dr. J H. Willey
Rev. Daniel Dorchester
Rev. Dr. Robert H. Moore
Rev. Dr. Ralph E. Davis
Rev. Dr. Eugene L. smith
Rev. Dr. William B. Reed
Rev. Lewis H. Davis
Rev. Jasper Steele
Rev. Lloyd Duren
Rev. Lloyd Dees
Rev. Ruthenia H. Finley
Rev. Patrick G. Perrin
Rev. Wesley F. G. Shand
Rev. John Brandon
Rev. Fitzroy Allan Kirton
Rev. Nathaniel Grady
Rev. Dr. Glyger G. Beach
Rev. Dr. Godfrey A. Uche
Rev. Morais G. Quissico
Flatbush of Today, Volume 2, Issue 1
Original from Cornell University
Digitized Apr 1, 2014
June 21, 1928 - A wedding of unusual interest. Four Methodist Bishops Act in Wedding at St. Mark's.
Father of the Bride - Bishop Francis Wesley Warne. Francis was born the middle child to an already religious family, steeped in the Wesleyan traditions brought to Canada from England. Both he and his wife can trace their families as prominent Methodists back to JohnWesley.
William Fitzjames Oldham who performed the ceremony was an Indian-born British-American Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church and Missionary Bishop for Southern Asia. Bishop Herbert Welch acted as a third officiant. Bishop Welch is known for being the longest serving Methodist Bishop since the church's founding.
February 10, 1941 -
Dr. Joseph H. Adams
The Author and Inventor .
to learn more.
July 21, 1936 - A Bride of Yesterday.
Bride a descendant of Elihu Yale (Yale College - the undergraduate liberal arts college of Yale University)
Relative of Henry Ward Beecher
(19th-century minister, preacher, and social reformer who supported abolition
and women’s suffrage) .
He was the brother of author Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Stowe wrote the anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin, in 1852.)
Mr. Charles R. Gay, President of the New York Stock Exchange in the 1930's was the Chairman of the board of Trustees at St. Mark's.
Read this 1936 article, Mr. Gay was one of Brooklyn's most prominent Methodist laymen at the time.
*Bishop Francis John McConnell (August 18, 1871 – August 18, 1953) was an American social reformer and a bishop in the Methodist Episcopal Church, elected in 1912. McConnell is best known for his quote "We need a type of patriotism that recognizes the virtues of those who are opposed to us".
*Hotel Bossert located at 98 Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights was once known as "the Waldorf-Astoria of Brooklyn". It was the site of the celebration of the Brooklyn Dodgers' only World Series championship. This iconic hotel is set to reopen in the Fall of 2016
Dorothy I. Height - (civil rights and women's rights activist) Y.W.C.A gave the meditation-"The Amsterdam Youth Conference " at the 1939 Fall Retreat for Brooklyn Clergy.
The Retreat was held at St. Mark's UMC with morning and afternoon sessions. The morning session focused on preaching during "war time."
The Afternoon Session focused on the problems young people face. 16 Sep 1939 News article - "Youth and The World Situation.
Step Back in Time and Check Into the Leverich Towers Hotel in Brooklyn Heights (Photos) - 1931
The Ladies Aid Society of St. Mark's Methodist Episcopal Church held its last regular meeting of the season yesterday afternoon in the Church House, Beverly Road and E. 21st St. The devotions were led by Mrs. James N. Currie, president, followed by a brief business session, at which time the following appointed chairmen of standing committees were formally announced: Mrs. Joseph The group leaders include Edward R. Vollmer, Mrs. - Franson, in charge of Mrs. J. Repp, Mrs. Harvey P. Baulch, John P. McEwan, Mrs. J. Morton, Mrs. Sidney Painter Mrs. Frank A. Bates. Following the business session program was presented. Mrs. William E. Swift spoke on "Charm" and read from her book of poems. Refreshments were served by Trlbken's committee in charge Mrs. Van Houten.
22 Jan. 1938
View this newspaper article from 1950. The Women's Society for Christian Service of St. Mark's held their Annual Evening Meeting at the Church House. Present at the meeting was Mr. Charles T. Haight - Director of the Re-Decoration Studios of B. Altman & Company, he spoke about "The Redecoration of The White House."
(The White House Reconstruction, also known
as the Truman Reconstruction, was a comprehensive
dismantling and rebuilding of the interior
of the White House between 1949-1952. )
(Charles T. Haight, 76, An Interior Decorator; He Redid White House -New York Times - March 07, 1980; Charles T. Haight, an interior designer who was in charge of the decorating arrangements for the White House during the Truman Administration, died Wednesday at Greenwich (Conn.) Hospital after a brief illness. He lived in Greenwich and was 76 years old. )