West Side UMC
Monday, July 22, 2024

History of West Side

                                        HISTORY OF WEST SIDE
NO GOD                                                              KNOW GOD
NO PEACE                                                          KNOW PEACE
West Side Methodist Church started in the summer of 1894. The first service was held on the lawn of
Dr. Theodore A. K. Gessler’s home and because of the response of the congregation, Dr. Gessler
suggested that a chapel be built on land that he had looked in to that might be donated for that purpose. 
On November 18, 1899, Byram Cove Land Company and Charles Noble gave a deed of trust for land
at River Styx, on the Lake, to Dr. Gessler and Richard R. Edwards, the first Mayor of Hopatcong. This
conveyance was made subject to the use of the Religious Society, known as the Baptist Congregation. 
The church sanctuary was used only in the summer, because there was no heat in the Sanctuary. The
basement served as the Sunday school all year long, since a pot-bellied stove heated it. West Side
Church was a non-denominational church in its early years; all were welcome. It supplied the residents
the needs for summer, as well as all year long, no matter what their religious affiliations were. West Side
joined the United Methodist in 1948 and was a circuit church until it became a full time Church in 1956. 
In 1960, the present property was purchased from the Maxim Dee Estates to accommodate the growing
needs of the Church. A fire on October 18, 1969 destroyed the interior of the River Styx Church, leaving
services held in various buildings until March 14, 1971. The current West Side United Methodist Church
building was dedicated on March 21, 1971. Some of the pews in use at the time of the fire were refinished
and are used in the current sanctuary. They have different ends and brass plaques, than the others.
West Side is a people oriented Church with many missions including, a Thrift Shop and Save The People
(STP food distribution program), both started in the 1970’s, food baskets at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and
Easter time.t
West Side is open to everyone. We invite you to visit and perhaps you will stay awhile!
Many years ago I took communion at west side for my first time there. Ed Wackwitx was the assistant. I happened to be first in line. Ed extended the wine/juice. I proceeded to try to sip from the chalice. He held back and I tried again. Rather than spill over the both of us, he released. Thereafter I noticed that West Side used in tinction (dipping the bread into the liquid. At the Lutheran Church we sipped from the chalice. Since I was first in line I had no one to watch. Almost had liquid all over. Ed showed better judgement and I almost "had egg on my face. Dick Hodson