Students involved in a summer youth program at St. John’s United Methodist Church in Ridgewood spent nearly six weeks researching and putting together a documentary video project about the history of the church that they will present later this month.
Bernell Frank, Director of Information Technology and Adult Literacy at St. John’s Adult Learning Center, has been using St. John’s United Methodist Church’s community center to help several high school graduates who are enrolled in the College Discovery Program learn not only more about the United Methodist church on Linden Street, but he has been helping them develop the skills they will need once they reach college this fall.
“I love teaching and I love history,” Frank said. “I want to make sure they have fun learning, and if they can do something like this, they can take it with them through their lives. If they can take a topic like this, something from the ground up, they can do it in college.”
The teens, Christopher Quinones, Maryam Azeez, and Samantha Morillo, have spent their summer days in the library and on the internet looking for anything they could find on the history of the church.
Through their research the students discovered that the church was originally built in 1906 and was established as a Lutheran Church before they sold it to the United Methodist Church.
“The Germans created this church,” Morillo explained. “In the early 1900s there were a lot of German immigrants, so there were a lot of Germans living in this neighborhood so they created this church.”
“It was underneath the Emmanuel Church,” Azeez added. “So that is how we found out that it was a backup church. We went to the library and found out that the Emmanuel Church was voted by the community to be brought down and that the staff of the church transferred over to the United Methodist Church.”
In this age of technology the teens had to forego using the internet as their main research tool and headed to the library to find books about Ridgewood’s history.
“Searching the church online was hard because it is a small church, so there wasn’t much on it,” Morrillo said. “But when we went to the library there was more.”
“Instead of looking up just the church, we researched the neighborhood instead,” Azeez said. “So we found more information.”
On Aug. 17, these students will present their finalized documentary video on the history of St. John’s United Methodist Church. If you would like to attend, or if you know anything of the history of the church, reach out to Frank at the church located at 1737 Linden Street.
The teens enjoyed the chance to learn new things on their own and develop tools they can use in the future.
“It’s always fun to see how it all comes together,” Frank said. “They’re a good team.”