What I Write

From the Back Street to Main Street Now Released

From the Back Street to Main Street… And Beyond, an illustrated history of the Methodist community of Middletown Point by multi-published author Helen Henderson is now available in print format and pre-order for digital format. The book follows the Matawan United Methodist Church at Aberdeen from its beginnings in the 18th century when six people met in local homes to the suburban congregation of today. For 100 years, the red-brick Methodist Episcopal Church was a focal point in the heart of downtown Matawan. Its bell summoned area residents to services and for many years doubled as a fire alarm.

The sanctuary is now over the township line in Aberdeen Township, near the Aberdeen Township Municipal Complex. Henderson notes that although the programs have changed from when the congregation was in the downtown, chuch members continue to serve both the “old” community of Matawan Borough and the “new” one of Aberdeen Township. An expanded food pantry and hosting a thrift shop are just two of the ways that the congregation and community interact today.


According to Henderson, “The title of the book was chosen because it portrayed several of the major changes in the congregation and its relationship to the local community.” The first sanctuary built by the congregation was on a back street of the town. “Main Street” refers to the next state in the congregation’s development when after several years, and acceptance of the congregation grew and more members joined, a new sanctuary was built in the heart of the downtown. “And Beyond” covers the period of the last thirty years during the church’s change from a small-town church to a suburban congregation, the severing of some of the historic ties with the town, the appointment of a woman minister as the congregation’s leader, and expresses the hope for the future.


From the Back Street to Main Street not only presents the history of the congregation, but interprets it according to the lifestyles and events of the time.” states Ms. Henderson. The book also reflects changes in the attitude of the community. Public issues such as slavery, prohibition, and the changed role of women in society and the church, as the issues impacted on or were impacted by the congregation are included in the history.


Henderson notes, “As in my other local histories, I tried to do something different than a normal chronological history. Besides reviewing past issues of the local paper, and both church and conference archives, I recorded oral histories from members of the congregation and integrated these snapshots of lifestyles into the narrative. I wanted to present not just the facts, but also the traditions and reasons behind them. I hoped that this combination of life and history would make From the Back Street to Main Street more interesting to the members of the general community as well as to historians. By providing membership information and familial relationships in the index, the book can also serve as a reference tool for genealogists.”

The history is available in print format and for pre-order in digital format at Amazon.com. An updated list of distribution sites can be found at http://www.helenhenderson-author.blogspot.com/p/from-back-street-to-main-street.html.


Press Release Archive