St. Mary Street United Methodist Church can trace it origins to the early 1870s when Broad Street Methodist Episcopal Church established a mission Sunday School on St. Mary Street near Federal Street. For twenty-five years this mission was an exclusively all-white organization until Blacks, taking up residence in the neighborhood, began attending and joined the church in good standing.
The Broad Street Methodist Episcopal Church continued to hold the title to the property and to maintain “oversight of the affairs” until 1919. August of that year marked the beginning of a phased withdrawal on the part of the white Broad Street Trustees. In October 1919 an all-Black Trustee Board was appointed, signaling the completion of the transition.
It is noted in Rev. Dr. Ernest S. Lyght’s book, Path of Freedom, The Black Presence in New Jersey’s Burlington County, that in the 1920’s a declining membership of another all-Black church, the Belmont Methodist Church, caused its remaining members to affiliate with St. Mary Street Episcopal Church.
In 1952, although its membership was small, we were able to raise enough money to make many renovations to the church sanctuary, including raising the building off the ground and adding a basement to accommodate a kitchen, dining area and bathrooms.
On September 2, 2003, ground was broken to begin construction of a new sanctuary, and on July 25, 2004, our new sanctuary/fellowship hall was consecrated.
Indeed, for more than 150 years God has smiled on St. Mary Street United Methodist Church. Through His boundless grace and mercy, He has seen fit to bring forth from our congregation several Lay Speakers and two United Methodist ministers: Hampton Williamson and Karline Dubuisson. And we are very proud to say that in 1996, former pastor Ernest S. Lyght was elevated to the charge of Bishop of the United Methodist Church.
We pray that God continues to use St. Mary Street United Methodist Church to advance His kingdom here in Burlington, New Jersey.