“Nazareth Methodist Church (M.E.) at New Castle. Captain Webb, a pensioned British officer, preached Methodism in New Castle about 1769. He preached in his uniform, his sword upon the pulpit and with a patch over his blind eye. Although the Court House was used for balls and all forms of amusements, its use was denied the Methodists. Robert Furness, who conducted a public-house, joined the Methodists and opened his tavern for the meetings. By this move he lost a great deal of his custom.
Francis Asbury preached there on Aug. 10, 1772 and noted that: “he had preached to a few, met much opposition and that the Methodists had done no good in New Castle.”
A Society was formed but it did not prosper as sentiment in New Castle was very unfavorable to the Methodists. A second attempt was made but it was 1820 before the present congregation was established. A plot of land was purchased on Sept. 28, 1820, from Richard Sexton, for $150.00. A small church was completed and dedicated in 1821. More land was purchased on Jan. 24, 1834, from Thomas Challenger. The church was made a station in 1837.
The Rev. Andrew Manship, who was pastor of Nazareth Church in 1849, gave three reasons for the weakness of the Methodist church in New Castle at that time. “The Episcopal and Presbyterian churches were so much older that their antiquity gives them strength; that there was a greater amount of aristocracy in New Castle than in any other town on the Peninsula and that our church is not so well suited to the aristocracy as some others and that the location of the Methodist Church was inconvenient, being far from the center of the town.”
In 1863, the main building of the present church was built, largely through the liberality of Thomas Tasker of the Tasker Iron Works. The corner-stone was laid on Tues., Aug. 4, 1863, by Bishop Levi Scott. During the construction work meetings were held in the Presbyterian Church and in a tent beside the new church. These were the first tent meetings ever held in New Castle. It was arranged to hold the dedication services on Thurs., May 19, 1864, with Bishop Janes, Bishop Simpson and the Rev. J. McKendree Perly, officiating.
The Sunday School building was added in 1876. The 100th Anniversary of the church was celebrated on Oct. 23, 1921. Among the gifts dedicated on that day were a baptismal font in memory of the children of Wm. Leach, a pulpit stand in memory of the Rev. James M. Wise, a pulpit chair in memory of Miss Anna Sherwood, a communion table in memory of Mrs. Edward Challenger and the pipe-organ which was a gift of the Dorcas Society. The dedication was in charge of Dist. Supt. Robert Watt, assisted by the Revs. J. R. Bicking, R. Irving Watkins and E. L. Hubbard.
New cathedral chimes, a gift of the Four Square Guild, were dedicated on May 13, 1945, by the Rev. Geo. H. Murphy.
There is a large enclosed graveyard beside the church, the tombstones dating back to the 1840’s.” (1) and Dixon stone can be seen, close to the road.” (1)
1. Frank R. Zebley, The Churches of Delaware, Wilmington, Delaware, 1947, p. 169.