Although there had been Methodists from Rome against slavery when the denomination was formed in Utica in 1843, it has taken 42 years for the city 12 miles up the Mohawk River to have its own Wesleyan Church. It is believed that Mr. Shepard is one of two representatives from Rome that attended the Utica Convention. His name is listed in the 1843 Discipline as a delegate. Perhaps the fact that the host pastor in Utica, Rev. George Pegler, was almost immediately called to pastor in Seneca Falls, hastened the demise of the Utica work which might have mothered a Rome church. A dynamic pastor, Rev. Pegler took on a new church under construction and in 1844 was elected the first Conference President in what was then the New York Conference. Also, many Wesleyans moved from the valley to the Bolyston area where they started one of the earliest churches of the denomination. Nearby Camden and Taylor to the south in Cortland County also benefited from early Wesleyan churches.
The decade of the 1860s saw the slavery issue resolved on the battlefield. This was a time when no new churches in this conference were begun. In fact, a Union Movement was going on which saw many Wesleyans reverting to the mother Methodist Episcopal Church. Gradually in the 1870s we had some startups, and Rome is among a group that blossomed in the last 20 years of the 19th century.
In Rome, the home of Mr. Shepard, at 9 West Court Street, was used as a meeting house until an empty Methodist building at 308 West Liberty Street became available. Many of the Wesleyans had come from this church, but there was a problem getting title to it. This building is not to be confused with a later church at that site used for many years by the C&MA Church. Under Rev. E. W. Bruce's pastorate, the church concluded that a new building was needed. A lot was purchased on the corner of Court and Jay Streets, by the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society of Syracuse for $1,200. The Rome church, now over 100 years old, is a sturdy structure. Rome has been blessed with dedicated people these 100-plus years, but the pastors God has sent have been the glue that binds.