Tilghman United Methodist Church is one of the oldest Methodist churches in America. It was established in 1784 when the famous circuit-riding Methodist preacher Jesse Lee rode in on horseback to Tilghman’s Island and preached to four farming families.
Services were routinely held in homes until 1845 when Louisa and James Seth deeded a parcel of land to the church near the village of Fairbanks; the first church building was erected there. An open-air building was also constructed on that site for summer services and camp meetings.
As the population grew on Tilghman’s Island there was need for a larger church. Between 1879 and 1882 more land was donated and a small church was built at the current site in the village of Avalon. In 1913 the congregation constructed our current church and our first full-time pastor, Rev. Ivanhoe Willis, was called to serve. At the same time, a home, situated on Wharf Road, was donated for use as a parsonage. Subsequently, several additions to the church were built for Sunday school rooms, a pastor’s office, and a social/business annex.
In 1964, Tilghman’s Island residents Abe and Lena Kronsberg donated a parcel of land to the church, which is situated across from the Fire Department, to be used as a park for outdoor church services and church picnics, especially for the children of Tilghman’s Island. In honor of the Kronsberg family, there was a dedication service at that time conducted by Rev. Dr. Harold Amoss.
Between 1784 and 2018, more than 200 circuit-riding and full-time pastors have served Tilghman United Methodist Church.
Thanks to our Lay Speaker, Ron Frampton for this article.