Our History

Methodism in America


The United Methodist Church shares a common history and heritage with other Methodist and Wesleyan bodies. The lives and ministries of John Wesley (1703–1791) and of his brother, Charles (1707–1788), mark the origin of their common roots. The Wesleys succeeded in leading a lively renewal movement in the Church of England. As the Methodist movement grew, it became apparent that their ministry would spread to the American colonies as some Methodists made the exhausting and hazardous Atlantic voyage to the New World.

 

Organized Methodism in America began as a lay movement. Among its earliest leaders were Robert Strawbridge, an immigrant farmer who organized work about 1760 in Maryland and Virginia. To strengthen the growing American Methodist societies, John Wesley sent lay preachers to America in 1769 and 1771. Some Methodists in the colonies also answered the call to become lay preachers in the movement.

Caravans of carriages and wagons traveled to Orange, Virginia to hear missionary Robert Williams on his circuit as early as 1773. They camped overnight in order to attend morning training sessions. The Reverend Francis Asbury was hosted in Culpeper each time he rode across Virginia. His journal mentions preaching in Culpeper as early as 1774 and baptizing children and ordaining Henry Willis on his first official duty after being appointed Bishop of America. The Reverend John Littlejohn had Culpeper on his itinerary, and his journal gives colorful accounts of lodging at a Culpeper inn, preaching in the courthouse and speaking to the Methodist class on May 19-21, 1777.In December 1784, the famous Christmas Conference of preachers was held in Baltimore, Maryland at Lovely Lane Chapel to chart the future course of the movement in America. Most of the American preachers attended. It was at this gathering that the movement became organized as The Methodist Episcopal Church in America.As The Methodist Episcopal Church was in its infancy, two other churches were being formed - the Church of the United Brethren in Christ and The Evangelical Association. These two churches were to unite with each other in 1946 and with The Methodist Church in 1968 to form The United Methodist Church. Read more at umc.org.From The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church - 2012. Copyright 2012 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.

Between 1948 and 1953, there was continued growth and great controversy over completing major repairs or relocating the church. In 1956, a committee was appointed to investigate the options and recommended that the West Davis Street Church and Sunday School Building be sold. The proceeds should be used to purchase a larger, more suitable site and to erect a more modern church to accommodate future growth. In March of 1956, trustees submitted a written offer to sell the property on West Davis Street, and on April 3, the county voted to purchase the church property for $125,000.

Caravans of carriages and wagons traveled to Orange, Virginia to hear missionary Robert Williams on his circuit as early as 1773. They camped overnight in order to attend morning training sessions. The Reverend Francis Asbury was hosted in Culpeper each time he rode across Virginia. His journal mentions preaching in Culpeper as early as 1774 and baptizing children and ordaining Henry Willis on his first official duty after being appointed Bishop of America. The Reverend John Littlejohn had Culpeper on his itinerary, and his journal gives colorful accounts of lodging at a Culpeper inn, preaching in the courthouse and speaking to the Methodist class on May 19-21, 1777.In December 1784, the famous Christmas Conference of preachers was held in Baltimore, Maryland at Lovely Lane Chapel to chart the future course of the movement in America. Most of the American preachers attended. It was at this gathering that the movement became organized as The Methodist Episcopal Church in America.As The Methodist Episcopal Church was in its infancy, two other churches were being formed - the Church of the United Brethren in Christ and The Evangelical Association. These two churches were to unite with each other in 1946 and with The Methodist Church in 1968 to form The United Methodist Church. Read more at umc.org.From The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church - 2012. Copyright 2012 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.

Culpeper, Virginia’s First Methodist Churches


The facility that housed the first Methodist church in Culpeper was built in 1847 and was located on Main Street in Downtown Culpeper. In 1890, a large lot was bought on Davis Street for a new church, and construction continued on a parsonage and a building for the kitchen, auditorium, Sunday School and classrooms. Due to the Depression in 1939, the Methodist Episcopal, Methodist Episcopal South and Protestant Methodist merged into one church at this location. However, by 1942, all debt had been eliminated, and they were able to build the Methodist Church School Building.

Building a New Church


On May 25, 1956, the building committee recommended purchasing three acres on Route 29 in the Oaklawn subdivision for $13,000. A large group of members attended the groundbreaking ceremony on February 3, 1957.  The total cost of the church, plus furniture and fixtures was $291,364.49, and most of the funds came from fundraisers. Several items from the old church were brought and installed in the new church, including the Tiffany Norris memorial stained glass window behind the pulpit, the Gothic lantern light fixtures that are hanging in the sanctuary, and the church bell.

In 1997, it became necessary to add a new $1.2 million wing to the building for classrooms, music and office areas, as well as refurbish the south wing library, chapel and meeting room. The following year, there were renovations on the kitchen, bathrooms, elevator and enlarged social hall. Renovations continued in the following years, and the church also purchased property for future expansion.