History of the Saugerties United Methodist Church
(From the Saugerties United Methodist Church 1992 Directory)
THE SAUGERTIES UNITED METHODIST CHURCH 1780 -
Methodist Circuit riders first passed through the Saugerties area in the 1780's as they moved throughout the six circuits which ran from New Rochelle to Lake Champlain. For many years class meetings were held in private homes and in the village school building on Partition Street until John Crawford became the first regular Circuit Rider for Saugerties. He preached to small groups in the DeWitt barn, where the Exchange Hotel now stands. By 1825, the village of Saugerties was growing rapidly, and with it, the Methodist movement. The Village Classes enjoyed a Circuit Rider just once every six weeks until 1828 when the first formal congregation was organized. S. L. Stillman was the first pastor, average weekly collections were $1.50, and property (present location) was purchased to "build a house of Public Worship. . ." at a cost which was not to exceed $1,500. The church building (photograph above) was dedicated in May 1829. By 1840, a parsonage was completed to house the circuit preacher until the congregation was large enough for a resident minister in 1848. During the following twenty years the sanctuary was turned to face Russell Street, a bell was installed, and in 1871, a pipe organ was added. Along with the rest of the country, this was a time for great revivals. It is noted that William Ostrander, Saugerties pastor in the mid-1860's, led "good revivals." Methodist tradition was strict in those years. Women who were flowers or feathers in their hats were not permitted the Sacraments, and anyone who missed three weekly class meetings without proper excuse was expelled. By the end of the century, there was need for a new sanctuary, but plans did not progress until after World War I.
THE SAUGERTIES UNITED METHODIST CHURCH 1919 - PRESENT
In 1919, the corner stone was laid for the new church building which is distinguished by remarkable stained glass windows that link our heritage to present times. Two of the large sanctuary windows are loving memorials for people who worked and worshiped during the early years of growth, and the dedication of the Ladies Aid Society (forerunner of the United Methodist Women) continues to shine through the south window which displays Jesus with the little children. A lovely link to the past, this building has, and continues to serve through more than seventy years of growth and extensive change. The old parsonage was converted to a Parish House for additional Sunday School space in the early 1950's, and the present parsonage was constructed on Finger Street. By 1959, the needs of the church had once again outgrown its buildings, and an adjoining Educational Building was added. As our forefathers had vision, the Saugerties United Methodist Church of the 2000's maintains a vision for today and the future, providing a modern, less stringent tradition with an active and vital program of worship, Christian education, and outreach. The Parish Hall houses the community Head Start program. The church building itself is continually bustling with adult and children's Christian education classes, the activities of Girl Scout troops and community service organizations, as well as the setting for Pro Musica, and frequent functions of fellowship hosted by church members. Mother Goose Nursery School was organized by the Church in the late 1970's and today is a fully licensed day care serving children of all faiths on a daily basis.