HistoryEarly records seem to indicate that Methodist preachers began to pay occasional visits to the Little Silver area (it was not know as Little Silver then, however) as early as 1785. In 1794, the Freehold Circuit was established and Joseph Totten was placed in charge. He is said to have changed the location of preaching from Rumson to the house of Richard Borden of Little Silver Point due to his religious and political sympathies.
Embury United Methodist Church began under the name of Rumson Methodist Church when formally organized in 1820-21, and built its first house of worship on Rumson Road in 1823 on land provided by Michael Parker, in whose name the congregation was organized. The Rumson Church soon was placed in the Long Branch Circuit, until 1850 when it began sharing a pastor with just the Red Bank Methodist Church . In 1867, it became a separate charge with Rev. George Reed as pastor. In 1869, however, the church was again placed in a circuit, this time sharing a pastor with Oceanport Methodist Church . It became a separate charge again in 1875, this time permanently.
Though at times the church was locally referred to as the Methodist Church of Parkerville, the official name as recorded in deeds and the New Jersey Conference Minutes was the Rumson M.E. Church until the present structure was built. The lot on which the present Embury Sanctuary is located was purchased from the Board of Education in August of 1868. A school building which had stood on the lot was moved to the rear of the adjacent property of Michael Ayers, on which the Parsonage and Church Hall are now located. At the dedication of the present sanctuary on February 24, 1869, the church was officially given the name Embury Methodist Episcopal Church, in honor of Philip Embury, preacher of the first Methodist congregation to be organized in New York City , and one of the first in the colonies. The building had cost $6,200, and was debt free. At about that time the area of Rumson in which the Church was located was becoming known as Little Silver. The coming of the railroad in 1875 and the building of the Little Silver Station in 1880 clinched the name for the whole community.
Originally, the parsonage was on the property which stands two doors down from Embury; in 1890 a new parsonage was built across the street from the Church. In 1900 a new organ, carpets, and the pews that are still in the church were installed. In 1909, the adjacent Ayers property was purchased and the brick wall surrounding all of the property was built. The rear of the Ayers property was added to the cemetery, and the new cemetery named EvergreenCemetery.
At the rear of the property is the church hall, and several events took place there. Traveling medicine shows once took place there, and the “Wide Awakes,”, a local basketball team, played there. School events took place there, and the first grades of the public school attended there for a while as well. Currently, it is used for community groups, Sunday School Classes, Church social events, exercise classes, and scout meetings.
In 1912, beautiful stained glass memorial windows were installed in the sanctuary, replacing the clear glass. A major renovation took place in 1925 which provided a new pipe organ, central lighting, and other improvements.
A parking lot was added in 1952, after the dry cleaning establishment occupying the property was destroyed in an explosion. In 1958, classrooms and a stage were added to the Church Hall. The next major renovation took place in 1959, when a new floor was installed, new carpet laid, and a new decorating scheme established.
In 1966, the decision was made to further expand the church, and a basement, choir room, parlor, office, pastor’s study, church library, kitchenette (the larger kitchen, in the Church Hall was too far away to be particularly useful), and additional classrooms were added, connecting the Church Hall and the Sanctuary.
In 1988, the sanctuary was completely redone. Flooring was relaid, a new ceiling and wall fixtures were added, regilding of organ pipes, redone balcony, new wiring, new insulation, replaced choir curtains, kneeling pad, and a new carpet were all installed. Services were held in the Church Hall during this renovation.