As United Methodists, we have a rich theological heritage that informs and guides who we are and what we do. Our founder, John Wesley, an Oxford professor and priest in the Church of England, maintained that his followers be fully informed concerning their faith. He instituted schools for children and adults, teaching them to think with a clear mind and feel with a renewed heart. Biblical literacy and critical thinking skills were also taught to his followers. He founded training schools to teach the basics of ministry to both men and women. With Wesley, we believe that a fully informed faith is vitally important for our continued spiritual growth.
Two centuries ago, in 1797, a small group of Christians committed to the teachings of John Wesley organized a Methodist Episcopal Church in the little frontier village of Chambersburg. Meeting in the Market Street home of Daniel and Ellen Maderia, they invited others to join them in learning to love God and their neighbors. The first Bishop of Methodism, the Reverend Francis Asbury, appointed a Circuit Rider, the Rev. Charles Burgoon, to shepherd this small but determined group.
The initial work met with serious resistance in the community. Their first meeting place was actually set afire by arsonists! But, as the years passed, this determined church grew and became a strong Christian witness to the people of Chambersburg, proclaiming God's love, forgiveness and healing grace to all. For two centuries and in five congregational buildings, the St. Paul Church has faithfully ministered the Good News of Jesus Christ to the community of Chambersburg and beyond our community to places near and far!
The congregation’s influence in the lives of thousands of people can hardly be measured this side of eternity. Can one count the number of children who have learned to know a loving God and to live a meaningful Christian life? Can one begin to tally the numbers of people blessed by the many and varied ministries of the church these centuries plus? When one considers the projects both great and small that utilized the gifts and graces of the congregation over the years, it is hard to escape the conclusion that the St. Paul Church has been a mission driven church.
That mission must continue. We have committed ourselves, on behalf of all those whom we have followed in faith, and because of those who will follow our example in the future, to be guided and empowered by the Spirit of God. The Spirit leads us to nurture and care for others in Christian love. We desire to continue to be a growing congregation that offers the healing grace of God in Jesus Christ for a confused and hurting world. We are committed to teaching by precept and example the love of Jesus Christ that sets people free. It is at the core of our mission to possess a passion for God and God's compassion for people.