According to the Book “ A History of Worcester Township” 1976, on page 333, it states: “Among the very old oak trees in Montgomery County is the Methacton Oak, also referred to as the Charter Oak. Connected with Methacton Mennonite Church is a tradition that Revolutionary soldiers who died in the church building when it served as a hospital after the battle of Germantown, were buried, not in the Church burial grounds, but just outside the western wall, under a huge oak tree still standing there”.
According to the dates in the Worcester book plus the years since the printing, the tree likely began its life around the year 1634. To put that in perspective, William Penn was born in 1644 and George Washington was born in 1732.
Sadly, on July 24, 2017, at approximately 381 years of age, our beloved Oak succumbed to the realities of nature and toppled to the ground. It is hard to grasp the span of events that took place under and around those beautiful branches during the course of those years!
A special event was held to commemorate the tree and the gifts it has given to so many, on Sunday, November 5, 2017. “Remembering and Celebrating the Methacton Oak” included:
Worship in the historic Methacton Mennonite Meetinghouse, bringing our hats to hang on the original hat racks.
Sharing and Storytelling: Listening to many stories of the Oak
Soup, bread and oak leaf and acorns shaped cookies served
Cemetery tours and family activity stations, planting a 6 year old sapling from the Methacton Mother Oak and another larger White Oak beside it.
Mugs with an image of the Oak and it’s dates were sold, as well as Christmas Tree acorn shaped ornaments, turned from the wood of the fallen oak by Ray Cooper, and cards and prints of the Methacton Oak painted by a local artist, Suzanne Rotundo.
In 1739 the land was deeded to the Dutch Anabaptist Society for 5 shillings and thus begins the written record of the Methacton Mennonite Church. The first Meetinghouse was built prior to 1771 although the exact date is unknown. A second Meetinghouse was erected of stone in 1805 and used as a community school and place of worship. The third and present Meetinghouse was erected in 1873.
As Mennonite families moved further north towards Souderton/Franconia in the following centuries, Methacton Church began to be on the fringes of the larger Mennonite community rather than centrally located.
This is its gift and its challenge. This church has always needed to draw people from the local community, from the Worcester/Collegeville area, to enable it to exist. It cannot exist on the constituency of “ethnic Mennonites” because there are none in the area. After being down to one member in 1943, a large Summer Bible School program was begun in the 1940’s and 50’s with the help of several families from the Plains Congregation. Thus began a new era in the church’s existence. Through this vigorous Summer Bible School outreach in the 50’s and through the preschool (begun in 1958), community people were drawn into the church and preschool ministry.
Methacton has never been one of the large Mennonite churches. It has never been a church that could continue to exist on its past, or its own strength of numbers. It has to exist because of a mission purpose. It has always had to focus on outreach and on God’s purpose for being here.
GOD’S FUTURE/GOD’S PURPOSE FOR METHACTON
We appreciate the help Methacton got from Plains in the 50’s, but we’re now trying to reorient ourselves to our local community of Worcester/ Norristown, and we have members from Norristown, Bridgeport, Royersford, Collegeville, Green Lane, Souderton and Lansdowne. Our dream is to be a center of community building and blessing for our neighbors and the wider community as a witness to our Risen Lord.
We have a diverse membership representing various ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds. The common bond is a faith committed to a disciplined life which is both meaningful and evident in daily living.