First Methodist Episcopal Church
Rahway, Union County
founded 1798, built 1856
The First Methodist church has not been well cared for but remains an impressive building. It was erected in 1856 in a fashion that reflects the Methodist's "mother church," St. George's, in Philadelphia. It's a basic Greek Revival form—shallow-pitched roof, pediment, cornice with a row of dentils, pilasters and elongated rectangular windows. The capitals on the pilasters are of a later date—probably 1880s or 1890s, as is the elaborate entrance. The contractor was Isaac Osborn, who was a member of the church's building committee.
Methodist Bishop Francis Asbury visited Rahway in 1804 and there were meetings that preceded his visit, perhaps as early as 1798.
The congregation started to build a chapel in 1810, but it was not finished for 16 years. Rahway became a preaching station in 1826, which meant it had visits from a circuit preacher about every two weeks, depending on the size of the circuit.
The sign in front today shows services are now conducted in Korean and it is called the Union Methodist Church.
Clayton notes that the 1807 church had the luxury of being heated, which was unusual for the time, as worship was considered by many to be about stoicism and self-denial—one was not expected to be comfortable while attending Christian worship.