Berryville United Methodist to celebrate its 155th anniversary on Sept. 16

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

BERRYVILLE -- While Rock Springs Baptist Church and the Berryville Presbyterian Church predate the Civil War, it appears the oldest church in Carroll County is Berryville United Methodist Church, which can trace its roots back to 1851 and before.

A homecoming celebration will be held on Sept. 16, at 11 a.m., with a program and potluck dinner to follow.

According to Beverly J. Taylor, early settlers established the First Methodist Episcopal Church in Carroll County at Carrollton around 1840, just a few years after statehood.

Around 1851, the First Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was organized in Berryville. No doubt, the congregation was small compared to today, as 10 years later the town had 51 homes and a population of 200.

At the close of the Civil War, there was only one dwelling left in Berryville, on Pritchard Street, and a hotel which housed both a Masonic meeting hall and a bordello.

In 1866, The Methodist Church reorganized with the Rev. M. Arrington. The total membership at that time included about 25 whites and three blacks.

Many circuit riders made the rounds at that time, including the Rev. James Hillary Cummings, grandfather of Marietta Edens, who retains early records of his ministry in Carroll County. Between 1885 and 1888, Cummings was pastor-in-charge of the Berryville Methodist Circuit, which covered several counties.

The Methodists used the Presbyterian Church for worship until 1897 when a frame building was erected on South Springfield Street. In 1908, this building was destroyed by a tornado, and a stone church and annex were built on the same spot.

In 1940, an educational building was added, built of stone from the old Bethany Orphanage in Eureka Springs.

In 1963, the church membership started plans for building a new church. The Basore property on Eureka Street was purchased and groundbreaking services were held on Jan. 22, 1967. Consecration services were held with Bishop Paul V. Galloway presiding, and pastor Rev. Calvin Mitchel.

While John Wesley founded the Methodist Church in London in 1739, the United Methodist Church as it is known today was created on April 23, 1968, in Dallas, Texas as a result of the unification of The Methodist Church and The Evangelical United Brethren Church.

In the fall of 1975, the Carroll County Rainbow School for Exceptional Children began classes in the west wing of the church, and in 1979 a fellowship hall was added to the church building.

Twenty years later on April 25, 1999, three strained glass windows for the sanctuary were dedicated, followed by three more which were dedicated on April 4, 2000. A stained glass window above the choir loft was installed in 2002, and in 2005 a large stained glass window above the balcony was dedicated. A new sound system was installed in August 2006.

According to Taylor, some of the church's former pastors are planning to attend the Sept. 16 homecoming. The public is invited to come and renew old memories, she said.

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