St. Luke's United Methodist Church
PO Box 207, 304 S. Talbot Street, St. Michaels, Maryland 21663
The Methodists came early to the Delmarva Peninsula, appearing first in Queen Anne's County, where they earned the name of "New Lighters". And indeed the preachers brought a new spirit with them, buoyed by the teaching of John Wesley.
By the mid-1700s Methodism on the Peninsula came in like an early tide, awash with a ministry of love to which the settlers could relate. No more heavy taxation to support the Protestant Church of England. The tide flooded St. Michaels in 1774. Not yet a town of any description, with a few planters living near the harbor and families of settlers associated with shipping and boatbuilding, the community was centered around the Miles River and the branch of the Choptank, known today as Broad Creek.
An English trading company sent James Braddock, factor for their St. Michaels store, to conduct and carry on their business. Braddock dealt in trade goods, tobacco and land. Shortly after his arrival in the turbulent years preceding the Revolution, he acquired that part of St. Michaels known today a "Braddock's Square".
In 1781 he gave the Society of Methodists one-half of two lots on St. Mary's Square. Here they erected the first place of Methodist worship in Talbot County. The meeting house was visited by Joseph Cromwell, Freeborn Garretson, William Watters, and many other Methodist preachers who rode the Talbot circuit. On one instance, Bishop Asbury spoke to a gathering of more than five-hundred persons at St. Michaels.
The first church of brick was about thirty by forty feet with fifteen-foot corner posts. It was known as "hip-roofed" with the gable ends also constructed in that fashion. The front facing the Square had two large double doors with windows in between. The roof facing the Square had three dormer windows. The interior was lighted with tallow candles. Overhead three galleries seated the overflow from the ground floor benches. The faithful were interred in the cemetery at the rear of the building.
Shortly after the War of 1812, the Methodists adopted the formal name of "Sardis Chapel". It was to remain that title until 1955.
By 1828 the congregation had grown so large and strong that desention crept in, not only here in St. Michaels but throughout the entire conference. The difference centered around the powers of the Bishops and Presiding Elders and the rights of the lay people. Many of the most prominent families of Sardis Chapel left and formed a Methodist Protestant Church. Both churches were situated on St. Mary's Square, and it has been said the two congregations tried to out-sing and out-preach each other on Sundays.
In 1829 Sardis Chapel was incorporated under state law to secure the original property on the Square.
IN 1830 major renovations were accomplished, including the removal of the gables facing the square and the placing of a door in the south side.
In 1839, with the influx of planters to the St. Michaels area, the first church was razed and a brick building was erected. The corner-stone was laid on July 4, 1839. The church was forty by fifty feet and had galleries on three sides. The men occupied one side and the woman the other of the three lines of pews.