Emmaus United Methodist steps into the 21st century

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Pastor Delloyd A. Green with a sign to be moved onto front of the church Pastor Delloyd A. Green with a sign to be moved onto front of the church. GALLOWAY – Emmaus United Methodist Church of Smithville has its roots in the 1700s, but it’s branching out nicely into the 21st century.

Anna Higbee of Galloway has been a member longest – since 1946. She’s also the church historian, a job made busier by this Sunday’s dedication of renovations made 2009-2011.

“The original church sign was painted on the building,” she said. “That was before the church mergers.”

The church has a 250-year history in the Smithville section of Galloway.

The sign is going to be lost for the ages – covered over again with vinyl siding on the church located on East Moss Mill Road at Route 9.

Pastor Delloyd A. Green, an Absecon resident, said much of the renovations involved landscape work and tree removal.

Member Lenore Duberson of Galloway agreed that the main projects were outside.

“It’s been a lot of exterior work,” she said. “The trims on the side were done. And taking down the siding, we found the old sign.”

According to Higbee, the church began in a home across Route 9 which is now Smithville Jewelers.

“They met there from 1790-1811,” she said. “The first church was across from Village Green – they acquired the land in 1811. That church burned down at some point. They rebuilt at the same site. We built here in 1869.”

She said the move from west to east Moss Mill Road might have been because the congregation outgrew the older church.

“They didn’t keep records as they do today,” Higbee said. “A lot of this I got from the older people.”

But while celebrating its past – which includes being associated with a number of other denominations – Emmaus United Methodist Church has been accumulating technology.

“The church has wifi,” Green said. “We got that at the beginning of this year to access any information. People can take notes during service.”

Duberson said the wifi was also for Boy Scout Troop 77 which meets at the church and also has a movie screen and projection units.

“The sanctuary itself is also hooked up in that manner with a projector system and screen,” Green said. “Our technology is in the developmental stages. We have a website – www.emmausemc-nj.org – that’s under construction.”

And soon to come is the biggest sign that the church with the centuries-old cemeteries on Route 9 has arrived in the 21st Century.

“A big step into the future, a bold step into the future of the church will be our new sign,” Duberson said. “We have a sign on Route 9 at the cemetery that’s been there for years. The new sign will be electronic with a digital screen.”

To emphasize how big a step this is, Duberson said that people aren’t sure the church is still open.

“They’ll ask, ‘Are you still there?’ Much looks as it did in the 1800s,” Green said. “This’ll be an eye-opener on the highway.”

Change is necessary for the church to survive, he said.

“It has to do with what people are used to,” Green said. “Communication is key. Most people don’t write letters anymore; they use email. People searching for information go to the Internet.”

He said the church plans to use its website for Bible studies and other activities.

“It’s my responsibility to update the signs,” Green said. “There are different resources on the Internet.”

Duberson said the church will continue its main job – teaching the word of God.

“The church is always about planting seeds for the future,” Green said. “That’s why it changes. I’m approaching 70; I remember feeling that 50 was ancient.” Rendition of the new LED sign – without dimensions. Workmen install new siding over the old sign. Workman finishes installation of new cross atop renovated steep Workman prepares steeple spire for new spire cover. Workman installs new siding over original surface. An 1879 bell – cast in Baltimore – still resides and rings in the steeple. Emmaus United Methodist Church of Smithville with rainbow. Postcard picture of then Methodist Church of Smithville built 1869. Photo taken about 1909. Bell located in tower of 1869 church. Inscribed on the bell: Tombstone of Richard Leeds - class leader 45 years - located in the old Methodist cemetery across Moss Mill Road from the Village Greene where the first and second church buildings were located.

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