Union Methodist Episcopal Church
Burlington, Burlington County
Union & York Streets
founded 1853, built 1853
For the last generation this interesting building has been occupied by the Holy Light of Jesus Church, a sect or independent church that was not in existence in the nineteenth century. The building was erected in 1853 by the Union Street Methodist Episcopal congregation, a group formed by sixty persons "coming out of the Board Street Methodist church," which is located only a few blocks away. Woodward provides no clue for the split, but given the timeframe, it is likely that a dispute over the Methodist position on slavery and abolition was a factor. Presbyterian and Methodist churches in the state often divided on this issue, with the minority withdrawing to construct their own building.
This is a well-designed church that was probably built of brick and stuccoed to appear to be stone. The windows are round-arch with a modest drip mold that is echoed over the building's entrance. There is a large chapel in the rear of the building that was erected in 1874.
Methodist congregations in the mid-nineteenth century usually named their churches after the location (Broad Street Methodist, Union Street Methodist, etc.) whereas Presbyterians and Baptists usually numbered theirs (First Presbyterian, Second Baptist); Catholic and Episcopal churches usually found an appropriate saint to name their church after. Woodward says that some of the Episcopal churches named trinity were in reaction to the popularity of the Unitarian churches and their denial of the trinity.