Church History

Like the Village of Suffern that surrounds it, The Suffern United Methodist Church is rich in historical significance. In Revolutionary times, what is now the intersection of Washington and Lafayette Avenues, marked the junction of the old Kings Highway, leading from Kings Ferry at Stony Point through Rockland County and on towards Morristown, and the highway leading northward through the Ramapo Pass. At this junction, John Suffern who had emigrated from Antrim, Ireland in 1783, built what came to be known as Suffern's Tavern This building, completed just before the outbreak of the Revolution, became the center of military events in this part of the Hudson Valley. It was occupied by General Washington as his headquarters for a brief period in 1777 and was later the headquarters of Col. Aaron Burr.

What became the Methodist Church Parsonage was built near the original foundation and used timbers from the old inn built by George Suffern in 1860. In March of 1965, the property in downtown Suffern was sold.

A HISTORICAL SKETCH OF THE DOWNTOWN CHURCH: In 1867, the Rev. A.H. Brown, in charge of the Wesley Chapel Circuit held a cottage prayer meeting in one of the homes in Suffern. Other meetings followed, and in time, the services were moved to the village school house. The group of worshipers officially became a "Society" in October of 1867. Members were almost immediately interested in building a place to worship. A lot on the comer of Lafayette and Park Avenues was purchased for $500 and the church was built. Dedication services took place on September 11, 1870. In the early years the Suffern church was connected with Ladentown, Wesley Chapel, Monsey, Saddle River, and Darlington, sharing the work of the church and the pastor. In 1884 Suffern became a separate charge reporting forty-two members and six probationers. The Rev. D.W. Ryder was the first pastor to serve after the change. In time the auditorium was enlarged, new quarters built for the Sunday School, and a pipe organ installed.

During the early 1920s, the original lot was sold to the Suffern National Bank, and property on the corner of Lafayette and Washington Avenues was purchased. A new church was built and the old Suffern Homestead was purchased and renovated for use by the pastor and his family. Planning for the present building on Parkside began in the spring of 1959 when the church trustees met to discuss a church expansion program. A few months later authorization was granted the Executive Building Committee to prepare a presentation to the membership for a vote to determine the kind of expansion. Two years later, after the church accepted a gift of four acres the downtown property was sold and plans were made to erect a fellowship hall and an education wing. In June of 1965, a home on Crestwood Drive was purchased as the Church Parsonage; the church itself was completed and the first service was held in December of 1966.