United Methodist Church History
The Early Church
Changes that shaped the congregation of Wesley Chapel
United Methodist Church
the early members met in a barn attempting to form a church, the clouds of
this nation's most turbulent period were quickly gathering. The outbreak of a civil war that would
divide this nation was only a few months away. According to earlier information
contained in the church archives, "regular sessions" were held
each summer from May through August, but Sunday School was still held on a
regular basis even though our nation, state, and community became engulfed
in this struggle. The effects of
this national struggle would be felt for many years. Wesley Chapel became a Methodist
Episcopal South and others in the area were Methodist Episcopal North.
Chapel has endured several congregational changes over the last 150
years. Several local churches sprang
from the Wesley Chapel congregation and have become equally important
places of worship still serving the community. In 1942, the members of Misenheimer
Methodist Episcopal Church merged with the congregation of Wesley
Chapel. These changes were surely
very difficult for all involved at the time, but they have ultimately
helped to build a stronger local church community to serve the growing
needs of the area.
Chapel has grown from being served by a circuit preacher who would visit
and preach a few times a year, then to a congregation on a charge that
shared a minister with other congregations, to finally having the ability
to support and enjoy a full-time pastor in a parsonage. Currently, the congregation is enjoying
for the first time in its 150-year history our first female pastor. The Rev. Cathy Davis is a welcome change
for Wesley Chapel that is providing influence in another positive direction.
congregation of Wesley Chapel has always dealt with the circumstances that
it has faced in a positive, constructive, and most Christian way. As history has shown us, the only way for
a church to not only survive, but also to flourish, is to provide for the
needs of its church family, the immediate community, and the greater
community beyond by doing so in the most Christ-like way possible. We at Wesley Chapel have always
approached change using Christ as our example. As long as we keep Him as our example and
our guide, we will have a wonderful Wesley Chapel Church to provide for the
needs of future generations in this community.
History of the
Places of worship for the congregation of Wesley Chapel
United Methodist Church
October 9th, 1858, an agreement was made between M.B. Barringer
and Allison Dry to convey a tract of land to a group of trustees of The
Methodist Episcopal Church South for the sum of five dollars. The trustees, Moses Dry, Eli Shaver,
Ambrose Lents, Gorite Sell, and Henry T. Lents and their successors, were
to construct a house of worship on this parcel of land to be used by the
members of The Methodist Episcopal Church South according to the rules and
discipline of the church and their general conference. The date of this agreement is the first
definite date in the history of what is now known as Wesley Chapel United
Methodist Church. This parcel of
land is currently used as the Wesley Chapel Cemetery.
to earlier written accounts, the first members of this congregation had
been meeting prior to October 9th, 1858, in a barn located on the Dry farm
southeast of the present Wesley Chapel cemetery. The members continued to meet in this
barn until a permanent wooden structure was constructed on the newly
acquired land. It was town down in
the late 1930's.
Original Barn Meeting
House on the Dry farm ~ circa 1858
construction date for the second structure used by the congregation is not
known. Earlier written accounts
referred to this building as a "small frame structure" that was
used until 1890 when a larger church building was constructed. At this time, there are no known
photographs of that building.
larger structure, completed in 1890, stood near the center of what is now
the Wesley Chapel Cemetery. Several
surviving photographs show the church in this location. All of them were taken just after the
addition of the steeple in 1916.
Wesley Chapel Church
structure remained in that location until 1927. Evidently, the expanding congregation
with its growing cemetery needs decided to relocate the church building
across the road to a newly acquired parcel of land.
new moved structure served the congregation well until the mid 1940's. At that time, the need arose for
additional space for Sunday school classrooms. In August 1947, construction began on a new
two story addition on the rear of the church.
Sunday School Addition
addition was completed and used beginning in early March, 1948. Within on a few weeks, all financial
obligations had been met and the addition was dedicated by Bishop Clare
Purcell on June 6, 1948. During the
1950's, the sanctuary was completely remodeled and stained-glass windows
Wesley Chapel Church ~
enlarged structure was home to the Wesley Chapel congregation until
February 19, 1967. In the early
morning hours of that Sunday, the large white building burned. Only a few pieces of furniture and the
Bible from the pulpit could be saved.
Fire Destroys Church -
February 19, 1967
Aftermath of Fire - 1967
congregation found itself back in the same position from where it started,
just over 108 years earlier.
in our earliest years as a congregation, we were graciously provided with a
place to meet until a permanent structure could be built. Pfeiffer College offered the congregation
the use of its chapel. For more than
two years, the Wesley Chapel congregation worshiped with the college
community in the Pfeiffer Chapel while construction progressed on the new
structure. During this extremely
difficult period of Wesley Chapel's history, the Rev. William H. Faggart
guided the congregation to yet another place to worship. The thoughts, prayers, and support from
the community helped to make possible the construction of a new church
groundbreaking ceremony took place on May 4, 1968. Dr. Elwood Carroll, superintendent of the
Albemarle District, presided.
Groundbreaking Ceremony -
May 4, 1968
Setting of Steeple -
August 3, 1969, the first service was held in the new church building. This beautiful new structure continues to
serve as the home of the Wesley Chapel congregation.
Newly Completed Structure
of the Sesquicentennial of Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church
I was asked, as the "new" pastor, to reflect
on the future direction of the church.
I have been able to reflect on this future with some objectivity
since I know so little about its past.
This, however, can have its disadvantages as well.
From the little I do know about its past, I know Wesley Chapel is a
strong and faithful church that has served God well. For 150 years, God's word through United
Methodism has been proclaimed in the community surrounding this
church. Many people have come to
know God's love and grace because of the people at Wesley Chapel.
The future of this church is also up to the people called United Methodists. We must first be in constant prayer and
discernment of God's will for Wesley Chapel. Our task is to make disciples and bring
others to know the love and grace of Jesus Christ. The church needs to be intentional in its
planning for the future and that is its first and foremost task to
accomplish. Then, as we begin to
make disciples, we will also want to truly be disciples; sharing that joy
that comes from knowing Jesus in a personal relationship. We need to make opportunities available
to people for service to others, for engaging and meaningful Bible studies,
for small group fellowship and study, and for compassionate action-filled,
faith-based activities for all ages.
Church is so much core than just what happens on Sunday morning. The future of Wesley Chapel depends on
all believers rallying around the cause of Christ and focusing on taking
church into the world ─ beginning right here in
northern Stanly County.
I look forward to serving this wonderful community of committed
Christian believers as we go into a future directed by God and as we serve
with compassion a world that is searching for the hope that is found in our
Savior, Jesus the Christ.
Rev. Cathy Davis
My "Ideal" Church
In my "ideal" Church there is -
a quietness that encourages thought,
a compassion that stirs one to help another in pain,
a rest for tired bodies,
a peace for troubled thoughts,
a Light for darkened pathways,
a communion with Loved ones here and beyond,
a forgiveness for foolishness and weakness,
the Presences of our Lord Jesus for all who would find
Chapel Church has been such a place for me, and for countless others, for a
hundred and fifty years. Because God
has been with us, our challenges have only made us stronger. Thanks be to God for the gift of Himself
in this great old Church!
List of Ministers
1858 John Watts
1860 Eugene W. Thompson
1863 Lundy Wood
1866 E. A. Lemons
1870 John Finger
1873 J. S. Nelson
1874 W. H. Watkins
1875 Edward Howland
1876 Miles M. Foy
1880 J. D. Carpenter
1883 W. L. Grissom
1885 W. P. McCorkle
1886 Zebedee Rush
1888 Louis M. Brown
1892 Thomas W. Mansfield
1895 C. M. Gentry
1898 L. T. Cordell
1899 F. W. Bradley
1901 J. S. Nelson
1903 J. J. Eads
1904 J.C. Postelle
1907 James Wilson
1910 A. E. Wiley And J. H. Sellars ( to 1912 )
1911 R. L. Forbis
1913 J. M. Price
1915 J. W. Strider
1917 E. M. Avett
1922 D.P. Grant
1923 W. B. Thompson
1924 Frank J. Slough
1927 E. N. Crowder
1928 J. Max Brandon, Sr.
1929 W. A. Kale
1930 G. G. Adams
1932 J. P. Morris
1935 C. S. Plyle
1936 Harlan L. Creech, Jr. (deceased)
1938 Abram J. Cox
1941 Courtney B. Ross ( deceased
1943 William A Rock, Jr. ( deceased 3-8-02 )
1944 J. E. Cockran
1945 Leroy A. Scott
1949 E. J. Harbison
1951 Jack C. Smith
1955 Harlan L.
1959 Dr. Daniel
1963 William Faggart (retired)
1969 James F. Weekley
1971 William F.
1977 Wiley H.
1981 James C. Howell
1986 Glenn S.
1990 J. Ed
1991 Randolph E. Powell
1995 Lee Money
1997 Dwight Whitlock, Jr. (retired)
1999 Robert A. Clanton, Jr. (retired)
2003 Michael A. Collins
2004 Michael E. Newton
2008 Catherine Davis