John Wesley commissioned four missionaries to the American colonies in 1769 – 1771. Francis Asbury alone stayed and endured the hardships for his cause. On March 24, 1804, Francis Asbury notes for the first time a charitable society was formed. He would be proud of all the churches and institutions that have grown from his day to this. Micajah Dobbins from Laurel Hill in Chester Township, Burlington County, invited a group of Christian men to meet with him in his home on February 12, 1841. Their purpose was to plan for the building of a “worship house”. All those present dedicated themselves to faithful service until said task was completed. Micajah Dobbins, Wesley Horner and Charles Lowden were elected as trustees to be responsible for the proper care of the worship house and its grounds.
The church in 1841 was known as the Laurel Run Methodist Episcopal Church. Laurel Run was the name of the small community between Creek Road and the stream, Laurel Run, where the road to Moorestown crossed the Run. The building was complete by the end of July 1841. At this time four more trustees were elected. Richard Marter, Daniel Stockton, John Smith and Alexander Bright joined Micajah Dobbins, Wesley Horner, and Charles Lowden as trustees. These seven were sworn in as the official custodians of the church property on January 27, 1845 by Isaiah Toy, local Justice of the Peace. Their job was to keep the Charge operating and to care for the upkeep of the buildings and grounds. The Charge in 1841 consisted of the Dobbins United Methodist Church in Delanco, the Asbury United Methodist Church in Cinnaminson and the First United Methodist Church of Delran (current names).
In 1869, Reverend Richard Conover’s father of Laurel Run Methodist Episcopal Church persuaded the Board of Trustees to build a new church if he could raise the money. The Church was to cost $2,250. Reverend Conover’s father went out to raise the money and within 2 weeks he had ten people including himself who agreed to give $100 each towards the building of the new Church. In February 1869, the trustees purchased a plot of land on Main Street in Bridgeboro, from Samuel and Hannah Lowden for the sum of $40.00. A portion of the original deed reads: The said trustees mentioned in this deed and their successors in office shall erect thereon a house or place of worship, for the use of the members of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Bridgeboro and in the county of Burlington. And shall at all times permit such ministers and preachers belonging to the Methodist Episcopal Church as shall be duly authorized by the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, to preach and expound God’s Holy Word and to execute the Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church and to administer the Sacraments therein”
The original church building was moved to its current location on Bridgeboro Road and used until 1879. The Delanco Methodist Episcopal Church experienced rapid growth and on Oct 10, 1879 the Delanco Church requested to withdraw from the Charge and become a separate Church. In 1879, Mr. Isaac Conover persuaded the men of the Laurel Run Methodist Episcopal Church to build a new church. Rev. C.F. Downs was elected Chairman of the Building Committee along with R.V.S. Parker, Josiah Brown, Isaac Conover and J.B. Knight. Work on the new church got underway. Mr. James Bramall, Sr. acted as foreman for the carpenters and masons who worked on the new building. He was authorized to pay the workers up to $1.25 per day. As the foreman, he was to be responsible for all records of material. For his 10 hour day, his wages could not exceed $2.00 a day. And. Many members and friends donated their labor which helped cut the building costs. April 3, 1880, the new church was completed at the cost of $2,250, and the building committee was discharge. The first floor of the Church was used for about six years until the second floor was fully ready to be used.
In the late 1960’s, the Board of Missions searched for and selected a new site in the heart of the new community of Delran for a new church. A five acre plot suitable for the new church and parsonage on Conrow Road was purchased from Russell and Fleur Laslocky. This land was originally part of the 500 acres owned by the Conarroe (Conrow) Family. The parsonage was built over an old barn and apple orchard. The book cases in the living room of the pastor’s home were milled from the wood of that orchard.
In 1969 the church re-incorporated in the new name of the First United Methodist Church of Delran. In 1970 Bishop Prince Taylor appointed a new Pastor, Reverend Donald Rolfs to the church charged with the responsibility to oversee the relocation and building of the new church. In June 1971 ground was broken for the new building to be constructed by the Stanmar Corporation of Sudbury, Massachusetts. It was decided to build a structure that would meet the needs of the church and church school and yet be easily expanded to meet the needs of a growing community. In 1977, the future caught up to the present. Ground was broken again in 1979 for a new Solar Addition on the South side of the church. On Nov 30 1980, the solar addition, god’s Sonshine Hall was consecrated. In 1982 a Wind Generating Station was erected to produce electricity for the Parsonage. On Oct 23, 1988 the Memorial Garden given in memory of Daniel P. Roberts was dedicated. In 1991 the trustees were looking for ways to meet the increased demands on the physical building.
Much of this information was obtained from The Trail of Three Churches published by the First United Methodist Church of Delran in 1997. Mr. Claremont Anderson provided the history of the Laurel Run Methodist Church. He grew up on a farm by the Rancocas Creek and was a member of the Bridgeboro Methodist church. The Laurel Run Methodist Church and the Bridgeboro Church was made up of loving and caring congregations. Over 150 years, these churches and their congregations were the center of activity in the community. In 1971 The old church building on Main Street in Bridgeboro was purchased by the “House of God” congregation and is still in use today. ￼