The American Connection,

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Pen y Caerau,

The Calvinistic Methodists of Wales came to Steuben, New York state, early in 1800 and worshipped at the Union Church of Capel Ucha until they organized as a Congregational Society. It was at that time that the Methodists felt Strong enough to have a church of their own. In 1824 Pen-Y-Caerau was organized and a church was built. This was the first church organized and established by the Calvinistic Methodists in America. Rev. Benjamin Davis was the first ordained minister of that denomination in America. Rev. William Pierce of Capel Ucha preached the first sermon, and the first Gymanfa was held at Pen-Y-Caerau two miles east of Remsen. Today there remains only a marker and a cemetery.

 

Pen y caerau was the First Calvinistic Methodist Church in America On the road from Prospect to Fairchild Road there is a large boulder bearing a bronze plaque. It stands as a silent witness to the fact that here was once located the most historic chapel of the Calvinistic Methodist Church of America which has always been known affectionately as the Cradle of that Church in America. The church was erected in 1824 and dedicated on August 1st of that year, over 178 years ago. James Owen* was in charge of the erection of the church. He corresponded with officials of the Welsh denomination in the mother country, expressing the desire of having Pen-Y-Caerau Church as a member of the Calvinistic Methodist Church in Wales. The request was granted and in 1826 the church was formally organized as a member of that denomination in Wales in accordance with the established rules of that denomination. James Owen served as an elder in Pen y Caerau church for 54 years and was active in all its endeavors. Benjamin Davies was the first man ordained to the ministry by the denomination in that county. In 1828 he helped in organizing three Calvinistic Methodist churches in Steuben Township and also Moriah Calvinistic Church in Utica in 1830. Mr Davies used to walk to Utica on Sundays, a distance of 20 miles, preach there twice on Sunday and start home again on Mondays. His compensation for preaching in Utica was one dollar a Sunday. Pen y Caerau church continued until 1927 when it was resolved that the church be dissolved for lack of members and the money on hand was transferred to the church at Prospect. The church was sold and moved away in 1934.

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*James Owen came from Rhiw, (Pen-y-caerau Farm), in 1817.

We would like to thank Mrs J Hughes Jones for her help with this article.

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