I have been asked to write a short history of the Methodist church of our City, but as I have no record I can only give a brief account of it. In order to appreciate Methodism of today, we should have some knowledge of the struggles through which the church has passed.
The location of the old Church was the lot occupied by the late Sebe Benton, and adjoined the old Billy Patrick home. The old Church which was built about ninety years ago was an unpretentious wooden structure and was repaired about forty years later.
There were eight graves in the old church yard where old preachers and their wives were buried. These bodies were later removed to Eastview Cemetery. The lot was since sold to Mr. C.S. Wheeler and the old church was sold to the late J.W. Odom.
The Annual Conference was held here in 1850, at which time my father, James Plunkett, entertained fourteen preachers, one of whom was the father of Bishop Kilgo, who joined the Conference at that time. The Conference was held in the Masonic Hall, the old Church not being large enough.
This section was at one time considered a part of the South Carolina Conference. It took in a part of Mecklenburg County and also a part of Virginia. Later changes were made in the Conference which separated North from South Carolina.
Some of the outstanding preachers of that time were: Rev. G.A. Darby, T.R. Welsh, president of Carolina College, Ansonville, N.C., William Mood, S.H. Brown, F.M. Kennedy, Sam Hill, H.C. Hutto, W.H. Wheeler, W.L. Johnson, Randolph Pegues, W.S. Black, Wesley Pegues, A.C. Clyde, H.C. Parsons and E.W. Thompson.
It was also customary in those days for preachers to come into the pulpit and bow his head in prayer. After
this was done, he arose, sat in his chair and sang some old hymn before service began. They had quarterly meetings every three months and the Presiding Elder did the preaching. Friday was considered "Fast Day" which was followed by "Love Feast" on Sunday morning.
For a long period after this the church was put on a circuit, later being made a station. While on this circuit it was a custom to have a senior and junior preacher. The married preacher was given a parsonage, while no provision was made for the single preacher. The salary of the junior preacher was $150.00 per year.
It was the custom after the usual morning service, after the congregation was dismissed and the doors closed, for a class meeting to be held. The object of this meeting was for those present to be examined by the class leaders in regard to their spiritual life. No member was in good standing and was turned out of the church, who danced or went to a circus, and no one was allowed to wear flowers upon their bonnets or frills on their skirts. Mrs. Fannie McCormick, when a girl was brought before the church for having frills on her dress.
One of our fine preachers, H.C. Parsons, served the church during the Civil War. During that time the Yankee raid passed through our town and demanded his silverware and other valuables, which were buried about six miles from here on his plantation. The Yankees made him ride a mule with no saddle to his plantation to get these valuables. Not being strong, Mr. Parsons died soon after this. The location of our present church was once used for a hotel, which was operated by my grandfather, Joseph Sullivan. The lot was bought from Mrs. Mary Roscoe back long ago.
From Dedication of Sanctuary Commemorative Program, January 16, 1966.