On Sunday, May 1, 2022, Turning Point United Methodist Church is commemorating a significant event in the life of Methodism. 250 years ago – in 1772 – Turning Point’s ancestor, First Methodist Church of Trenton was founded. Turning Point is the result of a 2007 merger between First UMC of New Jersey and St. Paul UMC. This foundational church is a direct descendent of that 1772 historic church. The name Turning Point was chosen for two main reasons: not only was Trenton, NJ a turning point in the Revolutionary War, but also because of the mission to lead people to a turning point in their spiritual lives.
Bishop John Schol, District Superintendent Hector A. Burgos, and Pastor Rupert A. Hall, Jr. will lead the celebration on May 1 with a worship service at 3:00 pm. The event will be held at Turning Point UMC: 15 S. Broad St. in Trenton, NJ. All living former pastors and spouses, including those of the former St. Paul UMC, have been invited and will participate in the opening processional. This celebrational event is open to the public.
Those in attendance will have the opportunity to observe a display of archives from the church and it’s history. The oldest archives date back to the late 18th century and also include memorabilia from the 19th and 20th centuries, with some through the early 21st century. Following the worship service, there will be a reception in the fellowship hall of the church.
This Trenton church is believed to be one of the oldest Methodist Churches in New Jersey, as well as one of the oldest in the country. Francis Asbury, one of the first Bishops in Methodism, was part of the laying of the cornerstone. Turning Point UMC is a direct descendent of that original church.
The church building where worship currently takes place every week was built in 1894. In 1956 it sustained an arson fire that destroyed much of the interior, but the main walls of the building were not damaged. By 1958, the interior had been rebuilt. It is the fourth building in the history of the church and the second building at this Broad Street location. The former brick building was torn down to make way for its present structure. The first two buildings were smaller and at a different location in Trenton, on Broad Street and Academy Street.
Among the nineteen original members of the church were Conrad Kotts, Alexander Carr, George Ely, Joseph Toy, John Fitch, and other UMC familiar names. John Fitch, the inventor of the steamboat, was memorialized by the City of Trenton.
Today, Turning Point UMC is very active in helping those in Trenton who need food and clothing. Every week, people are welcome to come for meals at the church and receive groceries to take home. In addition to food, the clothing ministry strives to help those who need something to wear. Twice a month, diapers are handed out to parents of young children. Turning Point’s congregation is most grateful to the many churches and organizations who regularly contribute food, clothing, and monetary gifts.
To further celebrate the anniversary year, the church is planning a gala banquet in the fall, as well as a special concert. You can also read a recap of the May 1st celebration in the May issue of The Relay.