By 1874, there was a thriving community in Merrimacport along the Merrimack River. But it was not called Merrimacport. What is now the Town of Merrimac was then part of Amesbury; the village here was called South Amesbury and the portion of the town around what is now Merrimac Square was known as West Amesbury.
There was by this time an established Methodist Church in Amesbury. At various times, preachers from that church had journeyed to South Amesbury and addressed meetings in people’s homes or at Citizens’ Hall. These meetings had aroused some interest in the community, but not until 1874 was there any effort towards establishing a Methodist society here. Several people from South Amesbury began frequent travel to meetings in Amesbury Mills (as it was then called), and as a result decided that they wished to actively and regularly participate in a Methodist class. It was no small effort to go to Amesbury on horseback or in a wagon for worship, and it would be much easier, and they would no doubt be able to “bring many more souls to Jesus Christ” if meetings could be held in the village.
Accordingly, Presiding Elder L. D. Barrows was approached for advice. He suggested that they invite a preacher living in Amesbury Mills, one C. M. Dinsmore, to conduct services here. This the South Amesbury people did, and he agreed. Services were conducted in Citizens’ Hall each Sunday beginning on December 5, 1874. The following year, the New Hampshire Annual Conference officially appointed Rev. Dinsmore to serve as pastor at South Amesbury. In December of 1875, Presiding Elder Barrows came to South Amesbury and oversaw the organization of the South Amesbury Methodist Episcopal Church. Eleven people who had previously been members of a church elsewhere presented themselves for membership, and formed the group of founding members. Methodist practice at the time required a probationary period for those wishing to join who had not previously been members of any Church, and several others were accepted into membership after the required time had passed. The names of Warren Weymouth, Charles L. and Mary Rowell, Judith Rowell, Judith Gile and Willett W. Titus (the school principal) appear among the list of founding members. Henry Haskell, though apparently associated with the Church during its formation, was not one of the original members probably because he, as was Charles E. Rowell (son of Charles L.), was required to wait out the probationary period.
As other changes came to the village, including the formation of the Town of Merrimac in 1876, the little Church grew, meeting regularly in Citizen’s Hall. From 16 full members and 12 probationers reported in 1876, the community grew to 40 members and 20 probationers in 1888. By this time, it was thought that the Church could afford its own building. At a meeting on June 29, 1888, a “Standard Plan from the Church Extension Catalogue” was selected (apparently the Methodist Episcopal Church had a group of standard plans for Church buildings from which a small society like that at Merrimacport could select, thus avoiding the cost of an architect), and a building committee was appointed. Land was secured at Sharper’s Corner, now the corner of River Road and High Street. The new Church building was constructed, and by February of 1889, it was ready to be officially opened and dedicated.
Pastors serving the Merrimacport UMC have included most recently Rev John Folley, Rev. Charlotte Nachbar and Rev. Pamela Maden. In 2011 the MUMC received a new pastor, Rev. Gwyneth Arrison.
Through the years, the Merrimacport United Methodist Church has seen periods of growth and decline, but through it all has faithfully continued in its mission to lead people into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and send out disciples to share the love of Christ and make a difference in the community and world.