Methodist church marks landmark anniversary

BY LAUREN CIRAULO Staff Writer

HOWELL — Several historical gems reside in Howell, including schools, firehouses and municipal buildings. But one landmark is about to approach an impressive anniversary.

The Bethesda United Methodist Church, 928 Adelphia Road (Route 524), will be celebrating the congregation’s 230th anniversary in October.

The church was constructed on Wyckoff Mills Road in 1779 along with a cemetery, but after two fires in 1849 and 1899, the structure was moved to its current location on Route 524. The cemetery still exists, but it is no longer owned by the church.

“I guess after two fires, maybe they thought that wasn’t the best spot for the church,” said the Rev. Bernadette Cataline, pastor. “But we’ve been trying to maintain what it should be and doing what we can to serve the community.”

According to Cataline, the church, which is comprised of a house of worship, a fellowship hall and a parsonage, has historically had a strong following. She said the church supports a number of community projects, including the Friends of Joshua House Foundation, which is an organization that helps abused and neglected children; Project 180, which specializes in turning around the lives of troubled individuals; and providing aid to military personnel stationed overseas. The church also provides meals to the homeless during the winter.

“We are constantly looking for new things to contribute to,” Cataline said. “If ever a special request comes through or a need comes up, we will have a response to that.”

In addition to these charitable activities, the church routinely has a potluck supper, in which members of the congregation gather at the fellowship hall, each bringing a dinner dish, and make contributions to the church. Bethesda United also sponsors a peach festival in June, a strawberry festival in August, and usually a harvest festival in October, but the anniversary is being held in lieu of that this year.

The anniversary also marks Cataline’s second year as the congregation’s leader. This is her first church appointment; she had previously been an office manager for an advertising company, and a middle school and high school teacher.

“This is a second career of sorts for me,” she said. “It has been a radical shift, but it’s never too late to change what you want to do with your life. It’s been a joy.”

Cataline also serves as the pastor of the West Farms United Methodist Church on Casino Drive, Howell, and splits her services between the two congregations.

The official anniversary celebration for the Bethesda United Methodist Church is set for Oct. 17 with services scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar will be the special guest speaker.

“We have been blessed enough to have the bishop come,” Cataline said. “It should be a wonderful celebration. All are welcomed to come.”

Following the services there will be a dinner at the Adelphia Fire Company. For further information, contact the Bethesda United Methodist Church at 732-462-9865.