James W. Nicholas and Jacob Emory were discussing the need for a church while at work at an old stone quarry one day. Following this discussion, Benjamin Reed went to Camden and arranged with Rev. J. H. Pierce, Presiding Elder, to come to Chester to organize this church. About two weeks later, February 1871, Father Pierce came and St. Daniel's was organized in Pearl Alley between Sixth and Seventh Streets, and Central Avenue and Tilghman Streets. Among the twelve or fourteen persons at the organization were: Brothers Carter and wife Hannah, step-daughter Elizabeth, Eben Doman, Henry Johnson and wife, James W. Nicholas, and Benjamin Reed.
On March 2, 1871, papers of
incorporation were filed at the borough
hall of South Chester with the corporate
name: St. Daniel's M.E. Church of South
Chester, Delaware County. It was
recorded May 25, 1871 (Deed Book #3,
Page 291). This corporation was
attested and supported by
Benjamin D. Reed before Justice of the
Peace, David P. Hill.
Benjamin Reed solicited Congressman
Ward to stand for the ground and
material; and soon our first building
was completed. As preparations were
under way for the first quarterly
meeting, everyone had to get busy, so
Mrs. Elzy Glascoe, Johnson and Perry,
carried lathes in their aprons to the men
to nail on, while the walls were covered
with newspapers. The Presiding Elder
brought Rev. Isaac Hinkson,
superannuated, served as Supply
This first building was on Edwards
Street north of Fourth. The following
persons constituted the worshippers in the first structure: Mrs. A. R. Richardson, Mary E. Lawrence, Mary F. Watts, Alice Brown and daughter, and Mrs. H. B. Washington, a Sunday School pupil..
A small brick structure to displace the frame building was started in 1884 and completed in 1885 under the pastorate of Rev. Arthur W. Hamilton. Through the efforts of the late John A. Watts, ground was purchased for us by Judge Clayton from the Hinkson family. Both Watts and Clayton donated to the cause. Former pastors included were in addition to Rev. Isaac Hinson, the Reverends Charles Wing, Isaac Broughton, Noah Morris, William F. Butler, J. R. Pierce, Campbell, Martin Webb, J. W. Parker, George Washington, Arthur W. Hamilton, L. Y. Cox, J. A. Richardson, J. R. Waters, I. H. White, N. B. Snowden, E. H. Webb, J. H. Scott, J. H. Nutter, J. R. Brown, W. T. Hemsley, and F.O.T. Laws. These ministers played a vital and significant part in St. Daniel's growth. Due to the deep spiritual power, her progress was exceptional, and her role as a tower of strength in the community was secured.
In order to make the move modern and suitable to the needs of the rapidly growing congregation, several renovations were started which included alterations to the stairways, changes to the choir loft, and extentions [extensions] to both ends of our present building. All of these ideas and plans were started under the pastorate of the Rev. W.J.L. Hughes. During his pastorate, the first Daily Vacation Bible School was organized and conducted for six weeks. Mrs. Ella F. Bailey served as the first Principal.
Plans started under the Rev. W.J.L. Hughes were completed by Rev. Leon S. Moore, who succeeded him. Besides progressive church renovations, Rev. Moore was a prominent factor in the community life of our city and wielded a great influence in civic betterment programs and interracial relations. He was the founder of the Henson Hi-Y at St. Daniel's. This club was the forerunner to the first Negro Y.M.C.A. in Chester. Rev. Moore served us 19 years.
Succeeding Rev. Moore was his first cousin, Rev. Noah W. Moore, Jr. who served from 1943 to 1947. During his tenure of service, several accomplishments were brought to fruition. New pews were ordered and the mortgage burned; new sidewalks replaced the old brick pavement, and a memorial retainer wall was erected in the front of the church.
Rev. Moore was advanced to the Superintendency of the Easton District of the former Delaware Conference, and became pastor of Tindley Temple United Methodist Church after the death of the late Dr. David W. Henry, April 12, 1949. At the Jurisdictional Conference in Cleveland, Ohio in 1960 Rev. Moore was elevated to episcopacy and assigned to the New Orleans Area.
Following Rev. Moore was the Rev. W.L.D. Lyght 1947 to 1951, under whose leadership the following achievements were realized: tiled floors, the new pews were installed in the main Sanctuary, a new garage was built for the Third Street parsonage, and a Public-Address System installed.
Rev. F. Donald Jones followed Rev. Lyght and served twenty-three years. He, too, continued as his predecessors before him and made several renovations to the church structure. Among his many accomplishments were: Installation of new rest rooms in basement, 1953; Edwards Street Community Center, later changed to F. D. Jones Community Center in his honor, constructed in 1963; purchase of property adjacent to church at 4th and Edwards in two parcels in 1965 and 1968; total demolition of property at 4th & Edwards and development of parking area; purchase and redecorating of present parsonage in 1969; and 1971 old parsonage, at 1421 W. Third Street, sold and mortgage on new property liquidated in 1971; and mortgage on center burned in 1972.
During an electrical storm on July 29, 1970 the sanctuary of our church was severely damaged by lightning. All worship services and activities were conducted in the Center until May 1971. We returned to a completely restored sanctuary on Mother's Day, May 9, 1971.
The era of Rev. F. D. Jones, who had served us longer than any previous pastor, ended with his retirement in 1973. He was succeeded by our present pastor, the Rev. Carroll P. Boswell.
Under the dynamic leadership of Rev. Boswell, St. Daniel's continues to maintain its place of leadership in the conference and community. The internal organization has been strengthened and general administration revamped to meet the challenges, needs, and problems of the religious institutions of the latter part of this century.
To implement the expanded program, to accomplish its mission, and maintain our property, the physical plant and surrounding areas needed extensive changes. Some phases of our complete plans for the future have been completed, namely: restoration of windows in church; replacing steeple and repairing roof; complete renovation of first floor of church; connecting center and church proper; new kitchen, ceiling, and paneling in center; establishment of a library; and renovation of basement. New furnishings are being purchased as needed to make new changes functional.
The F. D. Jones Center has been completely reorganized, with own staff. The programs and services offered have been increased. The lots on Edward Street facing church have been purchased to be used as a play area for center.
To provide properly needed, expected, and required ministerial duties at our church has become impossible for one pastor. With aid from the conference and sanction of our resident bishop, Bishop James M. Alt, District Superintendent, Dr. Stacey Myers, and on recommendation of influential members of the cabinet, the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference appointed the Rev. Thomas M. Scott, Associate Pastor, to St. Daniel's during its annual session in June of 1979. Rev. Scott assumed his duties on September 1, 1979. In this brief span his presence has been felt and his contribution to our ministry very effective.
St. Daniel's has two daughters - Siloam United Methodist and Grace United Methodist. In 1877, the Rev. George H. Washington, Pastor of St. Daniel's, organized a mission at the Brick Hall on 7th Street near Welsh. Among the group was Absalom Parson, who later founded St. Luke C.M.E. Church at 4th and Central Avenue. The first pastor was the late Rev. George Thomas Fields.
It was men of vision and sacrifice who saw an opportunity to build for the Kingdom of God a Methodist Church in the northern section of the West End in the City of Chester. In 1922 the idea was presented to Rev. W.J.L. Hughes, of St. Daniel's, that such a church be built in Crozer Terrace, a newly developing area. Rev. Hughes consented and a meeting was called. Out of this meeting Grace United Methodist Church was organized by William Wyatt and Eben Doman.
Rev. R. H. Coleman was the first pastor and supervised the construction of the building at the extreme northern end of Central Avenue which housed the church until it was demolished in 1954.
St. Daniel's has produced its share of eminent ministers of the gospel. Many of the stalwart and illustrious leaders of the old Delaware Conference laid the foundation in this church. Among them were the late Rev. George Thomas Fields, the late Rev. J.E.A. Johns, the late Rev. Charles Edward Kincade, The Rev. George W. Cuff, The Rev. Thomas Cameron, the late Rev. Charles Young, and The Rev. Leon Frisby, member E.P. Conference and pastor of St. Barnabas United Methodist Church.
George H. Washington
Isaac Henry White
William F. Butler
J. R. Waters
Welsey J. Parker
J. J. Campbell
Arthur W. Hamilton
J. H. Scott
J. R. Pierce
James A. Richardson
J. R. Brown
Lewis Young Cox
William Thomas Hensley
Nicholas B. Snowden
Edward Harrison Webb
John Henry Nutter
J. W. Parker
Frederick Godwin Campbell
Francis O. T. Laws
William J. L. Hughes
Leon S. Moore
William L. D. Light
F. Donald Jones
Carroll Page Boswell
Hooker D. Davis
Robert E. Glover, Sr.
Gilbert H. Caldwell
Alfred S. Maloney
Stephen J. Gibson
Herbert E. Palmer
Varlyna D. Wright
Herbert W. Coe
Eric W. Carr, Jr