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Our History

Our beginnings date back to 1783, when we were a part of the Flanders Circuit of the Methodist Episcopal Church, which included Flanders, Drakestown, Tottens (now Ironia), Walnut Grove (now Mt. Freedom), and Succasunny Plains (now Succasunna).

During the 1800’s the village of Suckasunny Plains was prospering. During the American Revolution, the region became an important source of iron for armaments (Succasunna comes from a Lenape word meaning “black rock,” referring to the iron ore found in the area). A dirt road called the Morris Turnpike linked far off Elizabeth to colonial Morristown, Newton and Milford, PA. The Morris Canal, a main artery of commerce and an engineering marvel, opened in 1831 just north of here. Later the railroad would follow. Suckasunny Plains was a convenient stopping-off place for travelers.

Local Methodists first met in a barn in Flanders. Later, they met at Corwin’s Chapel in Ironia, south of here. But, as sometimes happens in churches, a disagreement led to a split, and in 1849 a new Methodist class meeting was formed in Succasunna by the Rev. T.T. Campbell of the Flanders Circuit. Preachers held services in homes, or at the Roxbury Academy, a private boarding school which stood down the street from the church. When the crowds grew too large, they met at the Presbyterian Church, next door to our present site.

On the July 3, 1850, the male members of the class (this being the 19th century) met at the house of Bishop Edmund Janes where a Board of Trustees was elected and the building of a church authorized. Construction of the existing sanctuary and bell tower was begun in 1850 on 1.5 acres of land donated by Elizabeth Corwin, wife of Presiding Elder Rev. Caleb A. Lippincott (the Lippincotts are buried just outside the window of the sanctuary). Bishop Janes gave $500 towards its construction.  The structure was initially called ‘Janes Chapel’ in his honor.

The finished sanctuary was dedicated on February 17, 1852. It was valued at $5000. The Rev. William Day was appointed the first pastor.

A Sunday School room was added in 1887, and a renovation and addition was again undertaken in 1891. The sanctuary was completely refurbished in the 1920s and a pipe organ was added, prompting a District Superintendent at the time to comment, “a more beautiful room for worship I have never seen.”  This was followed in 1929 with alterations that included a recreation hall. In 1950 members dug a basement under the sanctuary by hand to add office space and a meeting room. In 1959 the last expansion added church school facilities, a kitchen and fellowship hall.

We celebrated our 150th Anniversary in the year 2000. A long-awaited addition to the church building – a wheelchair lift to the fellowship hall – was installed in 2008.  In the summer of 2010, the sanctuary was completely refurbished.  The project included painting, new carpeting, and new pews.

The church has always had a close connection to the people of Roxbury.  We have a long tradition of hosting community groups, which currently includes a Monday evening Narcotics Anonymous meeting.  Our Boy Scout troop, Troop 54, is the oldest in Roxbury and has seen more than 100 young men earn the rank of Eagle Scout.

Our cemetery adjoins the older cemetery of the First Presbyterian Church of Succasunna. Many Civil War veterans are buried here.

– from The History of RoxburyTownship, Volumes I & II (published by the Roxbury Township Historical Society, compiled by Annie Hosking & Harriet Meeker), plus other sources.