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HISTORY

OF

BETHEL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

GIVEN BY

EDNA PEGRAM

MAY 30, 1976

 

Sent by  Pamela Combs Gentilezza 


 

MOVEMENT OF METHODIST INTO NORTH CAROLINA

They came in horse drawn, canvas covered wagons searching for religious freedom and good land on which they could settle and cultivate.

They led farm animals and carried Bibles along the great Philadelphia wagon road into buffalo trails, along Indian paths through wilderness. These churchmen rallied strong opposition to an established church that colonial rulers never levied taxes like those collected in other counties for the Church of England

Their activist aggressive religion led them to organize an underground railroad so sIaves could escape to freedom. This also led into civil rights and anti-war movements.

Methodist were active in the frontier revival spirit across the Carolinas in 1700. One of the first Methodist Bishops in America was Francis Asbury. He was a frequent circuit riding preacher who said he crossed the mountains more than sixty times and almost drown when swept from his horse by raging waters of the Catawba river at Hickory.

First Methodist Society was organized in the state of North Carolina in 1774. The First Circuit in Baltimore was established in 1776. Methodist began in England in 1729 by John and Charles Wes1ey.

By reading of the Bible he saw inward and outward holiness and followed after it and invited others to do so--a new Church to seek after a new life. "The world is my parish," said John Wesley.

Some of the first Methodist preachers in the state were Robert Strawbridge, Jesse Lee, George Whitefield, Tomas Coke, Robert Williams and John Deckins.

Jesse Lee states there were Methodlst in North Carolina in 1760. John Wesley fol]ows coming up from Georgia. Methodist came to Guilford Circuit in 1770 served by many traveling preachers

New Hope Circuit which extended west of Greensboro was served in 1779 by James O'Kelly and Phillip Adams. In 1783 Guilford Circuit was served by Ira Ellis and John Oakley. In 1784 Tomas Coke and Francis Asbury preached in Guilford County.

Methodist is man going forth with good news about God--a man who reqires no altar upon which to provide sacrament--who needs no sanctuary in which to proclaim his message--who needs no vestement in which to present his truth--who needs only persons who feel their need of the Word from God and persons who want to hear about God. He is ready to proclaim the Word from tree stump, tavern, house, hall or church. He is an evangelist telling the good news. He is a prophet calling men to righteousness. He is a herald proclaiming the message from the King.

EXCERPTS FROM
FRANCIS ASBURY'S DIARY

Francis Asbury was in and out of North Carolina for twenty-years. He was called the morning star of North Carolina Methodist. In June, 1780, he states after crossing Roanoke river, "I rode to Sister Pegram's where about sixty people were present. It was a muster day, but those were happy souls. As soon as we began to sing, the Power of God came over us. I spoke on I Peter 5:6-8 and then rode to Captain Burrow's. The people in many places like little children in understanding. I went to Widow Ellis found the Lord was there. I slept in peace last night and rode with a deep sense of God, met with Henry Jones, a serious young man, and believes he is called to the work of ministry. I advised him to go with me.

Saturday, July ], preached at Widow Ellis on Hebrew 10:21-24. Here Edward Dromgoale met me. February 5, rode to Guilford Quarterly then twenty-five miles to Shorts and Mederias. On the visit, I crossed Roanoke and next day was met by several preachers at Sister Pegram's where the Lord was with us. On Saturday 16, I had long ride to Roger Jones. A hundred souls had been brought to God. Then met Philip Sands on Guilford Circuit In April 1705, preached funeral of Grandmother Gordon who was 87 or 88 in Wilkes County."

In 1799, Francis Asbury states he was with Jesse Lee when they crossed Dan river at Perkins Ferry and entered North Carolina "We came to John Harris in Rockingham County--a pious soul from Dorsset, Maryland. On Tuesday et Smith meeting house we preached Hebrew 3:12-13 and dined at Martin's. We came to Father Lowes where a large crowd attended; spoke on Isaiah XL. The heat was very painful. On October 3, we rode twelve miles to Convey's in Guilford County. Friday, October 4, we rode twelve miles to Mrs. Campbell's on the south fork of Haw River. We had to work our way through woods and on Sunday we attended the quarterly meeting at Bethel upon Belews Creek where I ordained five deacons; preached on 1 Timothy 6:11-12. We had a gracious time and rode only twelve miles in two days. I lodged at McDaniel's and on Monday I rode through Stokes County and attended the meeting at Loves Church, which had glass windows and the yard was fenced in."

I look up 1 Timothy 6:ll-12--"But thou, O man of God flee from these things, and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness, fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life where unto thou art also called, and hath professed a good profession before many witness."

BIRTH OF BETHEL CHURCH

I went to record deed office and found deed (Book 6, Page 219) by William Anthony made January 23, 1797 to George McKinney, Durey Peoples, William Jeans, John Dwiggins, James Knot, Andrew Ray, Harvey Medderts, Edward Pegram, Frances Brooks, and their successors in office forever in trust that they shall erect and build or cause to be built a meeting house for the use of the members of the Methodist Episcopal Church in America according to the rules of the Church.

This is according to what Mrs. Elizabeth and Mrs. Nancy Pegram told me years ago; that our first Church was built of logs; that there were no windows but just slab shutters and logs were cut in half for slab pews. We lost records of our Church when it was changed over to Associated Methodist.

The Methodist church originated in protest against what its followers regarded as a lack of democracy in American Methodist, which at the time did not admit laymen to membership in annual or general conference.

In May 1829 at Moriah the on Guildford County circuit all members except two withdrew from Methodist Episcopal Church and called themselves Associated Methodist Church. Practically the whole membership of the original body, including Flat Rock and Bethel in Guildford, went into the new organization and their property was taken over but the new groups erected their own meeting houses.

In 1829 the Guildford Circuit joined the Methodist Protestant Church Conference. On July 19, 1831 a deed was made by Jesse Pegram to Sunday School Trustees for a meeting House. It named John Moore, William Archibald Blair, Archibald Bowman, Cabel Jones, and Harvey Clark as trustees and their successors in office forever. They shall build or cause to build a house of worship for members of Associated Methodist where the minister of the church may expound Godís Holy Word and divine worship. This deed was signed by in the presence of George Pegram and Travis Jones. (continued)


 

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