Mt. Fern UMC held it's first service on November 11, 1883.
Mt. Fern was an offshoot of the Millbrook Methodist Church established 50 years earlier in 1833. Mt. Fern was built to better serve the growing community surrounding the church and the workers at Mine Hill who did not have transportation to Millbrook. John R. Spargo is the person most responsible for the church at Mount Fern. He donated the land, provided the financing, helped build the church and gave the church its name.
By 1880 Mount Fern was a hilltop community of about 25 homes, a dozen or so farms, and the mining families. The success of the local mines attracted still more miners to Randolph. After moving to an old stone farmhouse, John Spargo held Methodist class meetings in his home. The old stone house served as both an early church and Sunday school. Its two small rooms were soon filled to capacity. Eventually the community decided it was time to build a new church.
The Rev. Robert Jenkins served as the first pastor of Mount Fern Church from 1883-1884 and returned for a second year in 1894. Many of the Mount Fern early pastors were laymen, people who lived in the community, often with a farm of their own, and volunteered to lead the church for a year or two.
Mount Fern was well attended in its earliest years. However, membership declined when the local mines closed. By 1914 the church listed only 30 members.
The first Mount Fern Church Fair was held on July 4, 1914. Booths surrounding the church sold food, gifts, and souvenirs. A baked goods booth featured fresh-baked cookies and Anne Spargo's apple pies. Chicken suppers were served from a tent erected on the grounds. Fireworks at the first fair, by accident or mischievous design, ignited prematurely. Mount Fern never attempted fireworks again, but the church fair became a popular annual event for over 50 years.
By 1948 there were about 100 houses in the community. New families moved into the area and the church began to grow. In 1952 construction of a new fellowship hall began. Although over the years the building has changed, the church has not. Mount Fern Church remains a congregation of people united in their faith.
by Betty Hedden
The year was 1960. A beautiful spiritual woman named L. Estelle Steffany was living at Merry Heart Nursing Home in Succasunna. Her earlier years has been spent in Brooklyn, New York, and Dover, where she lived with her husband George. She was known to him as "Tommy", to her friends as "Estelle" and to her loving family as "Dandy". Her beloved daughter was Dorothy Hedden and her grandsons were David, Woody and George. Dandy was my dear friend and we shared many happy hours together as she reminisced about her youth and shared her spiritual beliefs and concerns. Another dear friend of hers was Dr. Floyd O'Rear who was at that time, Pastor of the Mt. Fern United Methodist Church and would visit her often.
One day in the summer of 1960, Dandy shared with me her desire to provide a permanent memorial of her gratitude to and friendship for Dr. O'Rear. She desired a stained glass window to be created for the church depicting Jesus and the Lost Sheep. Dr. O'Rear and I acquired the services of James Bosland, an artist from Wycoff, New Jersey, who executed Dandy's wishes and created the beautiful window in our chapel as her gift. It was installed by Mr. Bosland in 1961. To me, it has always been a memorial of a wonderful woman's love of God.