The Newtonville United Methodist Church

The Newtonville United Methodist Church received a $4,000 grant in 2001 from the Landmark's Conservancy's Sacred Sites Program for stained glass restoration. That restoration was recently completed. The window was dismantled and sent to Cummings Studio in Massachusetts. Broken pieces were repaired, and the window was re-leaded.


The Town of Colonie - A Pictorial History gives the following history of the Newtonville Methodist Church.

1799 -We stand in awe to think of that long history of our church. Methodism had only been in America 33 years. On January 31, 1799 a meeting was held in what was then known as South Watervliet. This was attended by seven gentlemen who, in successive meetings, voted to build a meeting house at the fork of Sicker and Old Niskayuna Roads. This building was completed at a cost of $550 and was dedicated in 1802. It was known as the West of Union Church.

At approximately the same time a class in the eastern part of town was organized and became known as the Second or East Method- 1st Episcopal Church of the Town of Watervliet. This group met in private homes until 1814 when a building was erected and used as a church and school. It was located on Troy-Shaker Road west of Maxwell Road on the south side of the Dyer homestead and cost $960. This church was dedicated in 1831.

A third group, known as the South Society also met at this time and held their services in the Loudonville schoolhouse. On land given and adjoining the Union Church the first parsonage was built in 1827 but in five years was declared unfit for the pastor and a larger one was built for a price of $500. In 1828 Rev. Selah Ireland, a local preacher, withdrew from the East Church and organized an Independent Methodist Episcopal Church. He became its first pastor. One dollar was the price paid for the land for this church which was located at what was known as the Crossroads. It was purchased from Stephen Van Rensselaer in 1842 and was to be used for church purposes for all time.
Between 1842 and 1859, Mr. John M. Newton purchased the property and built the home which we know as the J. G. Hills estate. The Crossroads became Newton Comers and later Newtonville.

1858 was a critical time in the history of our church. It was decided best at that time to unite the various churches in the circuit. The union was effected on March 7 1859 and was incorporated on June 2 of that year. It was called the Asbury Chapel. The Ireland Church at Newton Corners was purchased and repaired. In the fall of 1859 the enlarged church was dedicated. Seven years later this building was again enlarged.

"Gracious revivals" were held from time to time until in 1892 when the need for a larger church became so pressing that ground was broken for a new church, the present building, on July 17, 1892. The contract was let for $11,150; the young people enlarged and repaired the organ at a cost of $500; a steam heater costing more than $900 was incorporated in the church; memorial windows were placed in the church for $750; and the - Ladies Aid Society, gave furnishings to the church at a cost of $1,000. While the church was being built, church services were conducted in the First Baptist Church, the building where the Newtonville Post Office is now located. President Chester Arthur's father was the preacher there and also conducted a boys' school in his home.

The new church was dedicated on April 5, 1893 as the Asbury Methodist Church. $4,000 was paid and promised that day toward the payment of the church debt. It took only three years to pay the complete debt and on Sunday, April 5, 1896, Anniversary Day was held. "The cancelled papers were burned while the congregation joined in singing the Doxology over the happy consumation." As the years passed, many additions and improvements were made to the church and parsonage. Finances were often a problem. Originally seat rent was charged each parishioner to be sure of a place in church. Sometime between 1911 and 1916 "free" seats were declared and the weekly envelope system was adopted.

Prior to World War II, it was decided to excavate under the sanctuary to make space to be used for church suppers and young people's activities. Some digging began but, with the start of the war, work had to stop because essential material was scarce and many of the young men capable of helping were in service. After the war ended, the need and interest still existed. Coupled with this was the construction going on in the area as people moved from cities to the suburbs. On December 14, 1947, a special congregational meeting was held to vote on a plan for rebuilding the kitchen and constructing new rest rooms. The trustees unanimously authorized a committee to go ahead with this work. Everyone in the church supported this venture, and on March 14, 1948, it was decided to call this project "The 150th Anniversary Program" since the first Sunday in October 1949 had been set as the 150th Anniversary Sunday for the church.
From then on "Night after night the men gathered to tear down old walls, to shovel sand, to do a thousand and one things that would stretch the limited number of dollars available. As many as twenty- two men would appear in the evening in work clothes, bringing their own tools. On many nights ten or twelve dumptruck loads of dirt would be shoveled out of the basement onto the truck during that winter of 1947-48. But in May 1948, the men who had worked so faithfully and well had the satisfaction of seeing a completed room extending under the whole of the Sanctuary, with a stage at one end."

The next major addition to the church occurred in 1959 during its 160th anniversary. This was the new education building. In June 1958, a Building Crusade was initiated. Planned for the projected enrollment of about 165 children, the addition to the Newtonville Methodist Church provided a complete and separate church school. It contained space for 14 classrooms, an office for a Director of Religious Education, toilets, ample storage and janitorial space. Two classrooms could be combined to provide an assembly room for worship or other large groups. This education building was dedicated on November 8, 1959.

By 1963 the "land mark" parsonage had to be tom down. It was replaced by a new parsonage at 10 Arthur Road. In 1968, a union between the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church resulted in a new church name, the United Methodist Church.