The first church in Chatsworth was established in 1873, when Rev. George W. Cothell came to what was then called “Shamong” in Woodland Township and held worship services in the school for six months. Rev. Cothell organized this Presbyterian Church until there was sufficient interest and funds to build a church building.
Land for the church was acquired from the Estate of Francis B. Chetwood on June 1, 1875. Construction of the 28 foot by 42 foot church was completed later that year at a cost of $1400. The church had a membership of 25. A bolt of lightning struck the church on August 12, 1893, burning it to the ground with only the foundation left. Our current sanctuary was subsequently built on this old foundation.
About this time a band of Methodists began meeting in the Presbyterian Church. On May 3, 1899 the Methodists elected trustees with a view to becoming incorporated. Those elected were John Applegate, George Bozarth, James L. Applegate, John S. Haines and Samuel Lee. On June 3, 1899 these trustees appeared before the Commissioner of Deeds of Burlington County, Willis J. Buzby, Sr. and receiving his seal were incorporated as the trustees of the Chatsworth Methodist Episcopal Church. The first recorded minister appointed to the Chatsworth ME Church was George H. Vannote. In 1900. John J. Messier also began his service here that same year. Even after incorporation the Methodist congregation worshipped in the Presbyterian Church. The Presbyterian congregation eventually disbanded and the building deeded to the Methodist trustees on January 6, 1909.
In 1944 the church joined the Indian Mills-Tabernacle circuit and the Pastor of this circuit resided at the parsonage in Tabernacle.
In the fall of 1955 plans were made for renovating the church interior. Enthusiasm for the project ran high. In January 1956 the work began with 28 volunteer workers. The old vestibule was removed and a center aisle with two extreme side aisles replaced the old two aisle plan. A completely new interior featuring knotty pine paneling and hardwood floors was created with professional results. New pews of Philippine red mahogany were crafted by the men of the church. Rev Thomas B. Wright with the help of an experienced cabinet maker designed and crafted the pulpit furniture and chancel rail. The beauty of the natural materials in our sanctuary impresses visitors even to this day.
In 1975 work began to convert our former parsonage for use as a Sunday school building. Irving Mantell volunteered most of the labor and a bequest to the church from the Estate of Horace Adams paid for the materials. This same year Rev. Ray Carter was appointed Pastor of the Tabernacle-Chatsworth Church circuit. Another significant beautification project was undertaken in 1983 with the creation of our stained glass windows. The cost of each window was donated by different families in memory of loved ones. Each window was handcrafted by local artisan Gedi Gadauskas and features flowers and birds native to our beloved Pine Barrens. The windows were dedicated in a special ceremony on November 25, 1984.
This summary tells just a small part of our story and perhaps not the most important part which is the story of hundreds of lives that have been impacted by the love of Jesus Christ through the ministry of Chatsworth Church during the past century. We pray God will continue to work through our beautiful little Church in the Pines to bring Good News of Salvation through Jesus Christ to the people of our community.