Mission and History
Compassionately serving in community so that all are free to choose abundant life.
In the late 19th century, the movement to create homes for senior men and women was a direct result of social conditions following the Civil War. A very large number of the 630,000 men killed in the Civil War were Methodist Episcopal. This in turn, left thousands of widows and fatherless children.
The Pennsylvania area Methodist Episcopal Church leader, Bishop Simpson was asked to preach one of the funeral sermons for Abraham Lincoln. Using the text from James 2:27, which says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world,” he urged people to help widows and children.
In response to this call, the Methodist Episcopal Church in Pennsylvania planned and established a home for widows and named it in his honor. Simpson House remains in Philadelphia to this day. Methodist Episcopal churches in the Camden, New Jersey area raised funds and in 1891 built what is now known as Collingswood Manor. In 1971 it became part of the Homes.
In 1907, a committee of women appointed by the New Brunswick District Preachers corresponded with pastors and members of the Methodist Episcopal churches of Monmouth County about the importance of establishing a home for the aged. In response to this need, a single home at 63 Clark Avenue in Ocean Grove was purchased and the United Methodist Communities of New Jersey organization was founded.
A new Methodist home at 70 Stockton Avenue was opened in November 1949; 88 residents were transferred from the Clark Avenue home. In 1970 it was renamed for Bishop Francis Asbury—one of the first two bishops of the United Methodist Church.
The mission of United Methodist Communities has been essentially unchanged since its inception at the beginning of the 20th century and has its roots in even earlier developments at establishments that are now part of the Homes.
Over the next few decades the organization expanded: Methodist Manor (Branchville) in 1961, the Shores at Wesley Manor in Ocean City in 1963, Collingswood Manor in 1971, and Pitman Manor in 1974.
While major renovations occurred at all of the established communities, the Homes partnered with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and local churches to develop senior housing communities beginning in 1982 with Wesley by the Bay in Ocean City. Partnering with HUD and two local churches, Bishop Taylor Manor opened in 1989 in East Orange. Three more were added from 1994 through 2002: Wesleyan Arms in Red Bank, Covenant Manor in Plainfield and PineRidge of Montclair.
The Homes only Continuing Care Retirement Community, Bristol Glen, opened in 2001 (replacing Methodist Manor) and expanded the Homes’ presence in Northern New Jersey. Today, the Homes has 1,400 residents, over 1,000 employees and over 100 years of Excellence in Senior Living.
United Methodist Communities has assisted living communities throughout New Jersey. To find a community near you, visit our Assisted Living Communities page.