About Califon United Methodist Church

The Main Church

  • Entrances

    Califon UMC is a simple rectangular building facing the South Branch of the Raritan River on River Rd. It has two main entrances in the front with red doors, leading to two vestibules. The side entrance is fitted with a ramp for convenient accessibility access.

  • The Steeple

    Each vestibule is housed in a tower; the taller left tower is the steeple. The steeple has a bell in the belfry, which is rung by manually pulling a bell cord. 

  • Two Aisles

    The two vestibules naturally lead to a nave laid out with two aisles. There are two ways to handle a wedding procession with two aisles. One way is to block off one aisle and treat the remaining two sections as the brides and grooms. Alternately, both aisles can be used.

    As the church's left side is usually designed as the bride's side, the bride will enter with her escort in the bride's aisle, usually on her escort's left. She is traditionally "given away" to her waiting groom. After the union, the groom steps to the bride's right, where he offers her his left arm. (This keeps his right arm free to grab his sword and fend off wife-abductors.) The bride makes a wide turn, and they depart with her in the groom's aisle or on the groom's side of the aisle, whether one aisle or two, the bride's position in the aisle symbolizes the union of the two families. 

  • Sloped Floor

    As you enter the nave, you'll see that the floor slopes downward toward the sanctuary and altar. For any occasion -- wedding, christening, confirmation, new member -- the ceremony can take place on the nave floor, or the participants can step up to the podium so the congregation can see it better.

  • Pipe Organ

    In 1928 a new Mudler-Hunter pipe organ was purchased to replace the old bellows organ. 

  • Stained Glass

    Twelve stained glass windows were renovated to open, providing air circulation during warm weather months.

  • Choir

    The choir sits in a raised area above the podium near the organist. Always seeking new voices for our choir 

  • Pews

    Pews are long wooden benches with thick, comfortable seat cushions.

  • Temperature Control

    Sadly, the church has no air conditioning in the sanctuary. For the small number of very hot Sundays in the summer, the congregation will worship in the air-conditioned Fellowship Hall.

  • National Register of Historic Places

Our Historic Sanctuary

We are blessed that our church is composed of two historic buildings. Our original sanctuary, now our fellowship hall, dates from 1824. The sanctuary we presently use for worship dates from 1891-92.

The original 1824 Grove Methodist Episcopal Church was built by a congregation in Oldwick, just over the hill from Califon in Tewksbury Township. It originally stood on James Street, near the firehouse. If you visit the site, you can still see a cemetery initially belonging to the church.

In 1866, the Methodist Society of California (now Califon) purchased the building for $200 from the Oldwick congregation, who had constructed a new church.

It was disassembled and hauled to the Raritan Riverbank site during the winter of 1866-67, where it was reassembled for $1500. (Not including the $5 paid for the land it stood on!)

We recognize the September 1867 dedication of the rebuilt sanctuary as the date of our founding. Learn what happened in the world in 1867.

After a very successful 1889 revival led by Rev. James C. Howard, the congregation constructed a new sanctuary at $8433.50. The 1824 structure was moved back from the river, turned, and attached to the new tower's rear utilizing two small intermediate rooms.