Philadelphia Methodist Church was organized by the membership of a church called Rocky Mount which was located on land now known as Hamilton Place. Very few facts are known about Rocky Mount. Organized in 1840, it is said that the building was very large with a balcony.

We were told that at one time, every Columbia County Officer was a member of Rocky Mount. It is said there was a membership of four hundred. There are no written records of Rocky Mount. The present building could have been set inside of Rocky Mount. The present building was built after the Civil War on land owned by George B. Magruder.

The Church was given the name Philadelphia, which means “brotherly love.” The old Philadelphia register contains a list of bishops, presiding elders, and pastors of the church dating from 1879. It also contains names of the members and dates. Since this list was compiled in 1905, we realize it is not complete and fully accurate.

In 1888, George B. Magruder deeded for the sum of $30.00 a plot of land for use as a church. This property was situated on the Louisville Road four miles from Berzelia. A recent survey showed it to be 3.05 acres.   This deed was made to the Trustees of Philadelphia M.E.C, South and was recorded in 1891.

Many pine trees surrounded Philadelphia and since transportation was by buggy and wagon, horseshoes were nailed to some of the pines for securing the horses and mules during the services. There was no electricity so kerosene lamps were placed on shelves, two on each side of the sanctuary. The building consisted of one large room.

The room had curtains across three of the corner for classrooms. The piano occupied a fourth corner. There was no water except to go to the spring for it. A pot-bellied stove heated the building and the “facilities” were outside where the prayer garden is now located.

Our building program has been extensive. The sanctuary was remodeled and a front porch added. In 1972, a kitchen, dining hall, and restrooms were built on the back. A well was dug and waterworks installed. In 1976, the dining hall was extended and three classrooms and basement completed. New windows were later installed.

For years there was only one service a month. Now, there is a morning service every Sunday.  Sidewalks were installed in April, 1987, and a time capsule was buried in December, 1987. Our Philadelphia U.M.C. sign was erected in May 1991, in memory of Mrs. Willie P. Safford, mother of Mr. Sam Pursley.

The wheelchair ramp was built in September, 1993, and the parking lot was paved in October, 1993. Our building and improvement program has continued through the years with the expansion of the dining hall, parking lot, and education spaces. Stained glass windows have been placed in the church by members wishing to honor and remember loved ones.

A flag pole has been erected and the American flag flies proudly near the front of entrance of the parking lot.  Philadelphia is a growing and loving church. We are proud of our heritage and worship all to join us in an atmosphere of brotherly love and joyful worship of the Lord.

As of January 1, 2024 the church has joined the Global Methodist Church under the direction of Rev. James D. Hyder, Jr.

Original History prepared by Mrs. Dorothy Linder, or “Miss Dorothy” as she is known to many.
It has been updated by Marie McNair for the Homecoming of October 10, 2010.

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Service Times & Directions

Weekend Masses in English

Saturday Morning: 8:00 am

Saturday Vigil: 4:30 pm

Sunday: 7:30 am, 9:00 am, 10:45 am,
12:30 pm, 5:30 pm

Weekend Masses In Español

Saturday Vigil: 6:15pm

Sunday: 9:00am, 7:15pm

Weekday Morning Masses

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday: 8:30 am

6654 Main Street
Wonderland, AK 45202
(513) 555-7856