Phyllis Conway transcribed these excerpts from official Board of Trustees Secretary’s Records.
A Little History. The present building of the Chilmark Community Methodist Church was moved from Middle Road in 1910. In 1908 a house, designated the Parsonage was moved to its present site, donated by the Tilton, Adams and Mayhew families. This parsonage was built on Middle Road in 1863, first as a one-story building, later a 2nd story was added. Once moved to the Menemsha Crossroad site this parsonage was rented out by the church. Pastors served more than one Methodist Church on the Island and they lived down-Island, journeying to Chilmark for Sunday worship and pastoral care.
In the Quarterly Conference Book of 1928 it is reported that Chilmark and Edgartown were an allied parish, sharing a pastor.
Chilmark was part of a shared parish in the 1930’s through the early 1980’s. We shared a pastor with variously; Edgartown, Lambert’s Cove, Vineyard Haven & Oak Bluffs, in the ’30’s and 40’s.
In 1928 the Board discussed wiring the Parsonage for electricity, but deemed it too expensive. The parsonage was heated with coal stoves and had a large cook stove in the kitchen. In April, 1940, at the expense of a tenant holding a 4-yr. lease, the Parsonage was wired for electricity.
In May, 1941 an organ was given to the church by the Camp Meeting Association of Oak Bluffs. Oscar Flanders (father of David Flanders) moved and installed it under the balcony at the rear of the sanctuary.
In January, 1947 the Board discussed whether to sell or retain the parsonage. The District Supt. of the Methodist Conference counseled against selling unless imperative. The board decided rather to repair the building and to continue renting it.
In 1953 Mutual Church Insurance Co. declined to insure the parsonage since it was not the pastor’s home.
In Sept 1953 The Board voted to give the organ in the rear of the santuary to the Bradley Memorial Church of Oak Bluffs.
In summer 1955 we united with Episcopalians for Summer worship in a unified service at the Chilmark Church. This also occurred in 1958 and in the 1970’s.
In December 1955 church services were suspended after Dec 25 until Palm Sunday due to small attendance.
In 1957 worship was held at 7:30 in the evening at the Chilmark church, to raise attendance.
In Summer 1958 services were held at 10:00 A.M. and whether to hold services in Winter was discussed.
In 1958 the Board voted that our church would join a group of other Methodist Churches on the Island for ways to publicize all four churches.
On December 27, 1959 our church celebrated the 175th Anniversary of the founding of Methodism on the Island in 1787.
In 1973&’77 our chilmark Church members and those of our sister churches in Edgartown andOak Bluffs donated money to renovate the kitchen of the Oak Bluffs Parsonage where the pastors lived as they served the combined parishes. The churches gave to a fund to insulate the O.B. Parsonage attic and house. Some of our members gave labor.
In 1978 the Trustees voted to hire a second clergyman to visit members and solicit new ones.
In February 1978 Lois Mayhew (Mrs. Gregory) and Emily Broderick (Mrs. Steven) devised a Sunday Schol and Nursery School Program for Chilmark families. They used the Chilmark Community Center as well as the Sunday School Rooms upstairs in the Church. It was successful.
In Sept 1980 The Reverends Lee Oliver and Helen Oliver, both ordained ministers, became full-time pastors of the five Methodist Churches on the Island. Each preached at two churches every Sunday morning and at Lambert’s Cove in the evening. They took turns at alternate two churches the next week. The Olivers lived in the Chilmark Parsonage and Rev. Oliver built the cabinetry in the parsonage kitchen.
In 1981 an organ was donated to us from Trinity Church in Oak Bluffs.
In 1982 The Board once more discussed selling the parsonage, but the heirs of the original donors, Tilton, Adams and Mayhew, did not wish it sold. We also learned that any Church Parsonage as well as the church are property of the Methodist Conference of S. N. Eng. and proceeds of a sale must go to them.
In Oct 1982 The United Methodist Church members held a meeting to discuss Chilmark’s continuing to have a pastor living in our parsonage. The building would need renovation. The Parish of which we are a part and the District Superintendent must approve.
By 1984 the Chilmark parsonage was repaired and a minister and wife (also ordained) were in residence. These were the Zadirakas.
Since that time we in Chilmark have used our parsonage for the pastor’s home as each one continued to preach at our sister church, Edgartown UMC each Sunday. It was also used as the Sunday School from 1986-1993.
In 1992 all the upstairs windows in the parsonage were replaced, and the rooms were wall-papered and painted. The Rev. Arlene Bodge took up residence.
In 2000 Chilmark Church held a fund drive for building of a Sunday School Building/Parish House. The building was completed in 2002 and is used for meetings, Sunday School, community groups, AA meetings and for special events.