The Methodist Churches of Our Blue Ridge Mountain
Our first venture into the history of the Methodist Church on the Blue Ridge Mountain of Jefferson county has been aided by the Reverend Donnie Jane Cardwell, pastor of the Chestnut Hill Methodist Church. Chestnut Hill is one of three churches of that denomination currently offering services on our Blue Ridge. The other two are Silver Grove and Murrill Hill. Chestnut Hill's history, below, was compiled by Edna Enos.
The six parts of the story that were provided by Mrs. Enos include some of the early history of all the Methodist churches on and in the area of the Blue Ridge Mountain. That information can be applied to Silver Grove and Murrill Hill as well. With YOUR help we hope to be able to include those churches' histories, too. Help from ANY parishioners would be graciously accepted. We respectfully request that we be advised of any errors, omissions and will gratefully accept additional data.
Chestnut Hill Church 2008
Chestnut Hill United Methodist Church
First Sunday - 2007 (February)
John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, formed his followers into societies or classes. Such was the start of the Shannondale Mission. Seven "classes" meeting, not in a church building but in member's homes. When these classes grew large enough, they built themselves a meeting house, and it became a church.
Who were these people? Why would they come to a forested Mountain instead of the lush land in the Shenandoah Valley? Out of necessity, men make their homes where they can make a decent living for themselves and their families. Probably the earliest employment for these families was the Shannondale Springs.
These Springs first attracted attention in 1821, the year that James Monroe began his second term as President of the United States. Monroe was from Virginia and at this time this area was a part of Virginia.
A Jefferson County, Virginia newspaper devoted an entire page describing the unusual curative powers of the Shennondale Spring, based on the analysis of the water by a Dr. DeButts. Dr. DeButts assured people that almost every ailment know to man could be cured by the waters in these springs.
Visitors to the Shannondale Springs seeking its cures stayed in a large boarding house on the property. Workers at the property - cooks, waitresses, stage drivers, stable grooms- all built homes on the mountainside above the springs, near enough that they could walk to work.
When the railroad reached Harpers Ferry in 1835, the Shannondale Springs started to boom. It is said that statesmen, foreign diplomats, and other celebrities were among the guests at the hotel. Five Presidents of the United States -- James Monroe, Franklin Pierce, James K. Polk, Millard Fillmore, and Martin Van Buren were said to have been Shannondale's guests.
With the increase of guests, a new four-story brick hotel was built. Also 10 or 12 other buildings were built on the grounds, and behind the hotel, Tygart's Hall was erected. This was a gambling center to cater to the "sporting instincts" of the male guests All of this increase in visitors brought more people to the mountainside -- more cooks, waiters, maids, grooms and stable boys who were looking for seasonal work.
During this growing time, the iron industry came to the foot of the mountain in order to use its resources. The firm of Purdue, Nichols, and Company, built a cold-blast charcoal iron furnace beside a small stream to take advantage of the water power, the trees of the mountain as a charcoal supply, its limestone and its iron ore. Although this industry never became big business, it did offer employment to miners, and semi-skilled iron workers who also needed to live near the furnace site.
Downstream where the Shenandoah River emptied into the Potomac was the United States Armory and Arsenal. About the same time that the Shannondale Springs was attracting visitors, the Rifle Works on Virginias Island along the Shenandoah River as established. More woodcutters and coaliers came to the mountain.
Then during the winter of 1859, a fire burned the grand Shannondale Springs Hotel. The owners decided that they would not rebuild due to the competition of other grander spas, such as White Sulfur Springs. For the people who had made their living here, this decision was a big blow but the Blue Ridge Mountain has become their home, and they stayed to eke out a living the best way they could. Also in 1859 the sounds of rifle fire were heard when John Brown and his men seized the Rifle Works and the U.S. Armory at Harpers Ferry.
The following November, 1860, mountain voters cast their ballots and learned that Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, was the people's choice for President. Just 9 days after Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as the 16th President of the United States, the Baltimore Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church met in Staunton, Virginia. When appointments were read, the Rev. James Henry Wolff was named to the Shannondale Mission. Thus the beginnings of our Shenandale Parish of the United Methodist Church where a need was found to minister to the spiritual guidance of persons making their homes in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.
(Note from Reverend Cardwell: I would like to thank a former pastor, Rev. Frank Mentzer, who was a history buff, for much of this information today. Although this is the beginning of the Shenandale Parish, which got its name from the famous Shannondale Springs, the Chestnut Hill Church actually began in 1907. We will learn more about that on a later Sunday.)
Chestnut Hill United Methodist Church
Second Sunday - 2007 (March)
At our last History Sunday, we heard about the Shenandale Parish having its beginnings and getting its name from the famous Shannondale Springs although the names are spelled differently. The Journals of the Baltimore Annual Conference show that the Shannondale Charge existed as part of the Winchester District as early as 1857. At the 1858 Annual Conference the statistician reported that the Shannondale Mission Charge consisted of 128 white members with 83 white probationers. There were two church buildings with an estimated value of $800, but there was no parsonage.
For several years there had been concern in the Methodist Episcopal Church over a Rev. Francis Harding. It had been recommended that he be suspended from his ministerial standing until he freed 5 slaves that his wife had inherited. Harding appealed this to the General Conference which was to meet in Staunton, VA, in March 1861.
A new chapter added to the Discipline that year had included a rule that said in part: "We believe that the buying, selling or holding of human beings, to be used as chattels, is inconsistent with the rule to do no harm and to avoid evil of every kind. This became the wedge that forced a split between the Methodist Episcopal Church and the newly formed Methodist Episcopal Church, South.
Bishop Levi Scott adjourned the Baltimore Annual Conference in Staunton on Monday, March 25, 1861. On Friday, April 12, just 18 days later, Gen Beauregard ordered his troops to fire on Fort Sumter, South Carolina, forcing President Lincoln to summon the militia to suppress the rebellion. America's Civil War had begun.
During this time of Civil War it was difficult for pastors especially those in parts of Virginia and Maryland to reach their churches. There was a time when the Rev. James Henry Wolff who was assigned to the Shannondale Mission charge could not get through due to Yankee soldiers in the area. The Yankee soldiers had burned much of the Purdue, Nichols and Company's cold blast iron furnace looking for hiding Confederate troops. It is well known that Colonel John S. Mosby, the Confederate "Grey Ghost", brought his "rangers" across the Blue Ridge through Keyes Gap to strike behind Union lines.
According to records at this time Rev. Wolff had four churches or classes as they were often called. One class at the iron furnace area was simply known as the Furnace Class. It would have been made up of workman and their families.
South of this class, Rev. Wolff pastored a Methodist class made up of persons who had worked at the famous Shannondale Springs spa. This -was known as the Fairmont Class.
Upstream from the Shannondale Ferry was Castleman's Ferry, where east-west travelers over what is now Virginia Route 7 crossed the Shenandoah River. On the mountainside above the Castleman's Ferry, Wolff pastored the Ebenezer Class.
Rev. Wolff served the Shannondale Mission for at least 5 years, being reappointed by each Annual Conference through 1865.
In 1866 Annual Conference met in Alexandra, VA. Following the split of the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South most of the sentiments were with the new Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The war had prevented the Baltimore Conference from making the change. But with the war behind them, the delegates voted to petition the Southern Church for membership in full connection.
In the years between 1866 and 1872 the Shannondale Mission Charge had pastors William Hedges, Andrew Robey, and Thomas Brown. According to records, the Rev. Thomas Brown had a salary of $500 for his first year on the Mission. He received a housing allowance of $25 and a travel allowance of $20. He lived in Unison, Loudoun Co., Va and traveled his circuit on horseback. (Unison is located between Round Hill and Middleburg. )
Records also show that the Mission was able to pay Rev. Brown only $162.42 for his first year on the Charge!
The Baltimore Conference Record for 1871 indicated 7 churches included in the Shannondale Mission which had Rev. Thomas Brown as the pastor with Thomas Dillon as Exhorter (or Lay Speaker). These churches were:
Mount Carmel - located in Fauquier Co. VA
Providence Chapel - also in Fauquier Co, VA
Ebenezer - at Castleman's Ferry in Clarke Co., VA
Fairmont near Kabletown in Jefferson Co,
WV The Furnace - also near Kabletown
Manning's - near Charles Town, in Jefferson Co
Silver Grove - at Harpers Ferry
Just look at the distance covered by these circuit riding pastors! It had to be very demanding on them.
Records indicate that the Shannondale Mission Charge seems to have been in a state of decline at this time, The congregations were able to raise only $161.42 towards Rev. Brown's salary and nothing for his housing or travel. Soon the seven congregations dwindled to four with a total of 151 members. Sunday Schools also dwindled to 110 students, a loss of 40.
Membership continued to fall. Giving in the Mission averaged $1.44 per member per year. The Mission could not meet its apportionments, being deficient by $3.78 per member. Conference Mission Society agreed to underwrite $100 of the needed funds.
In 1872, at Annual Conference, Bishop Robert Paine had not been able to fill the Shannondale Mission pulpits. In 1873, Conference listed the Shannondale Mission pastor as "to be supplied". No pastor was assigned. About this time the Shannondale Mission Charge dropped from sight.
It also seems that the Methodist Episcopal Church apparently took over the operation of the Silver Grove congregation which was meeting in the old Silver Grove school.
These were not great days during the history of the Shenandale Charge. But as we will discover at our next installment Chestnut Hill, at a location about 8 miles west on the road that ran through Vestal's Gap, was soon to enter the story!
Chestnut Hill United Methodist Church
Third Sunday - 2007 (April)
At our last History Sunday I reported the decline of the Shenandale Mission Charge, its failure to meet salary and other monetary requirements for the pastor and the fact that there had been no pastor appointed by Conference.
Records show that in 1892, nineteen years after the last appearance of the Shenandale Mission in the Conference Journals, Rev. James Harvey DuLaney, serving the Hillsboro Circuit of the Washington District admitted Rosa V. Staubs and Sarah A. Hardy into membership. Records also indicate that in the late 1890's, Carrie Bell Staubs from the Chestnut Hill area was accepted into membership by Rev. James Merryman Anderson who was a junior preacher on the Hillsboro Circuit. And Edwin Staubs was accepted by Rev. William H. Saunders who was the senior preacher on this Hillsboro Circuit which was about 8 miles from this area. This may indicate that the Chestnut Hill area was added to their evangelistic efforts or that the mountain mission had been added to the responsibilities of the Hillsboro Circuit. Records do not tell us for sure.
Also about this time Lewis Rudasill accepted 6 persons into a new class. These persons were Bessie Pearl, Mary E. Wilt, Thomas William Wilt, William Henry Wilt, Daisfy Lillian Wilt and Charles W. Pearl.
In 1905, the 121st Session of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South sent Thomas C. Jones to Jefferson County to serve the Bakerton and Shannondale Charges. The Conference Journal suggests that Robert Kern Nevitt also assisted Rev. Jones in the Bakerton and Halltown Churches and .that Rev. Nevitt was paid $114.00 by the Mission Society during the 1905-06 time period. Rev. Nevitt was listed as having a R.F.D. No. 13, Charles Town address.
When the Jefferson County School District built its second school on the mountain, a few miles from the Silver Grove School, it was called Bithas Green School.
It was in the Bithas Green School that R. K. Nevitt organized the Chestnut Hill Church. This Bithas Green School is the current Wesley House.
The Chestnut Hill Methodist Society was built around this group of 10 persons that I have already mentioned. On October 7, 1906, Rev. Nevitt accepted 17 more people into the Chestnut Hill Methodist Society. These early members were John J. Dillow, Eliza Ellen Dillow, Mary Jane Dillow, Olive Amelia Fritz, J. Leonard Fritz, Lee Addison Grove, Flora Elizabeth Grove, Ellice L. Hardy, Viola Virginia Hardy, Georgie Love, Ethel Grace Ott, Annie K. Painter, Lyda Belle Staubs, Mary Louise Wagaman, Ephriam Seymore Wagaman, George William Wilt, and Celia Ellen Wilt.
The following Sunday, Rev. Nevitt added three more persons to the Congregation meeting in the one room school. These were Ida J. Hardy, William H. Hardy, and Annie V. Wagaman.
On October 28, 1906, two more joined the church: Annie May Grove and S. David Hardy.
In 1907, the Annual Conference reappointed Thomas Jones to the Jefferson County charge with R.K. Nevitt again as the Supply Pastor. Statistics are given for Shannondale Mission, although it is listed officially as "Shenandoah Junction and Shannondale Mission". At this time the Shannondale Mission consisted of four "Societies" and four Sunday Schools with a total enrollment of 302. There was only one structure on the charge, valued at $500. This would have been the church at the old Mannings area, now called the Murrill Hill Church. Chestnut Hill would have been one of the other three Societies and was meeting at the one-room schoolhouse. It is suggested that Fairmont and The Furnace, both near Kabletown, were probably the other, congregations.
When Rev. Nevitt was returned by Conference in 1907, he and the new congregation of 32 at Chestnut Hill soon began a building effort. On the corner opposite the Bithas Green one-room schoolhouse would soon be the new Chestnut Hill Methodist Episcopal Church, South.
But before work on the church got underway, Rev, Nevitt added one more member, Sarah E. Wilt, the last to be added by him during his time on the mountain.
The congregation formed a building committee consisting of Rev. Nevitt, Thomas William Wilt, Jr., Howard E. Staubs, William Henry Wilt, John J. Dillow and Charles W. Pearl, Jr.
The cornerstone for the new Chestnut Hill Church was laid on Saturday, July 27, 1907. In it was placed a Bible, a hymnal, the Journal of the 1907 Conference, and a copy of The Baltimore Southern Methodist dated November 8, 1906.
"New" Chestnut Hill Church 2008
The Annual Conference of 1912 apparently created a new charge by joining the Shannondale Mission with another charge and calling it the Glenside Charge. The pastor of this charge was J. W. Reeves. It is shown that Reeves was paid $200 for his service in 1912.
At the '1920 Annual Conference, German Horton Hunt Tyler was assigned to the Glen Side Charge. In 1922, Shannondale was removed from the Glen Side Charge and reestablished as a separate charge. German H. H. Tyler who was living in Winchester, was assigned to the revitalized Shannondale charge.
In 1923, Tyler reported membership of the Mission up 97. Three churches composed the mission, probably Murrill Hill, Chestnut Hill and Fairmont.
Murrill Hill Church 2008
In 1924, Presiding Elder Frank Tyler convened a special meeting of the Shenandale Parish Quarterly Conference. Presiding Elder Tyler had decided that the Shenandale Parish needed a parsonage. Trustees representing Murrill Hill, Chestnut Hill, and Fairmont met and acquired the old Hardy Place, across the road and just south of the Chestnut Hill Church.
When Annual Conference met in April 1924, Samuel Stickley was appointed to the Shenandale Charge. There were three congregations: Murrill Hill, Fairmont, and Chestnut Hill. Each congregation had its own house of worship and each had a Church School. Membership in the Charge was now 70, Church School enrollment was 183 with an average attendance of 55.
In 1926, S. F. Fridley, a local pastor, was sent to the Shenandale Parish although Conference incorrectly lists the charge as Shenandoah Charge. There were 123 members in the three churches. Fairmont had stopped holding Church School. Two additional congregations are now listed: Mt. Carmel and Bishop's Gate although there is no indication there were any church buildings. Fridley refers to "the upper end of the work " and notes in his report that "two of our churches have spiritual life but the three upper churches are asleep." There is no explanation as to what he meant by the upper end.
In 1928, Fridley had a very productive year, adding a sixth congregation, probably Ebenezer, at Castleman's Ferry, in Clarke County, Virginia. Records show that this brought the membership up to a total of 322.
The 1927 Journal of the Conference listed for the first time the Shenandale Parish with the current spelling. This appears to be a correction from the incorrect listing of the Shenandoah Parish in 1926.
I would like to end this morning by calling your attention to one of the record books that we have from the Shenandale Parish. This one is from 1926-1930. There is lots of information about the churches on the charge and recordings as to the church life from the pastor at the time. This book is from the time when Samuel Fridley was pastor. Let me read a passage from the Second Quarterly Conference held January 15, 1928... ...
Chestnut Hill United Methodist Church
Fourth Sunday - 2007 (May)
At our last History Sunday, I gave you a very important date in the history of Chestnut Hill Methodist Episcopal Church South. That date was July 27, 1907, the day that the cornerstone of the then New Chestnut Hill church was laid. If you remember Rev. Robert K. Nevitt was the pastor
At this time there were 4 societies in the Shannondale Mission Parish -- Murrill Hill near Mannings, Chestnut Hill, and two near Kabletown-- Fairmont and The Furnace.
I also noted 1924 as the year when the old Hardy place was purchased fora parsonage for the Shannondale Parish. At that time there were 3 congregations in the Parish -- Murrill Hill, Chestnut Hill, and Fairmont.
Now let's move ahead with additional history.
In 1926, Samuel Fridley, a local pastor was sent by Conference. By 1928 Rev. Fridley had added two more congregations to the Shannondale Parish. So now We have a total of 5 societies -- Chestnut Hill, Murrill Hill, Fairmont, Mt. Carmel, and Providence.
There is a note in the January 13, 1929 Quarterly Conference Record book that states. "There is a phone in the parsonage now which is a blessing to all churches."
In mid summer of 1929, the Methodist Episcopal Church relinquished the Silver Grove Church back to the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Silver Grove had chosen to go with the Methodist Episcopal Church rather than the Methodist Episcopal Church, South back shortly after the Civil War time when the two groups split. Silver Grove now became a part of the Shenandale Parish. There were 13 converts listed by Rev. Samuel Fridley, one of which is Georgia Izitta Staubs , which is Ruth Manuel's Mother.
Silver Grove Church 2008
In 1933, Annual Conference named James Bernard Hedrick, an Elder, to the Shenandale Mission. Rev. Hedrick was reappointed in 1934, 1935, and 1936. The last year Rev. Hedrick served the Shenandale Mission, it consisted of Fairmont, Chestnut Hill, Murrill Hill, and Silver Grove.
The 1937 Annual Conference saw Clarence Washington Lloyd, a licensed local pastor assigned to the Shenandale Charge of the Winchester District. Pastor Lloyd was 51 years of age, and came to the Charge with 12 years of experience.
Rev. Lloyd was married to Linnie Lee Lloyd. They had four children. At the end of his first year on the charge, Rev. Lloyd had added again Mt. Carmel with 78 members, Providence with 72 members and Ebenezer, in Clarke County, Virginia with 44 members.
During 1938, Pastor Lloyd built the charge to include Chestnut Hill with 124 members, Murrill Hill with 119, Fairmont with 83, Mt. Carmel with 70, Providence with 70, Silver Grove with 66, and Ebenezer with 40 members. In two years Pastor Lloyd had increased the number of churches from 4 to seven and the total membership from under 200 to 572. That's pretty incredible!!!
With the 1940 Annual Conference, districts in the Conference were realigned and the Shenandale Parish became a part of the Hagerstown District instead of the Winchester District. We also were part of the Baltimore Conference.
Pastor Lloyd was appointed to the Shenandale Parish each year from 1937 until 1958 when he was forced to retire, having reached his 72nd birthday. The Parish was willing for him to continue, so he served an additional 8 years, technically as a Supply Pastor. Rev. Lloyd died in 1966, having served the Shenandale Parish a total of twenty nine years.
We have many persons today who remember Rev. Lloyd and his family and probably became members during his tenure at Chestnut Hill. Josephine Mercer wrote a remembrance of Rev. & Mrs. Lloyd that I would like to share. Josephine said that the Lloyds were like another Mother and Father to her. She remembers helping Mrs. Lloyd clean. When a conference meeting was scheduled Mrs. Lloyd would prepare a meal, and have a couple of ladies from the churches help and serve the meal. The kitchen at the parsonage was in the basement of the house and the dining room was upstairs so food had to be carried to the dining room table. At one visit by the District Superintendent Mrs. Lloyd was told not to go to that much trouble. They could eat in the kitchen.
Josephine remembers The Lloyds renting a house in Boyce, Virginia. A daughter Mildred lived in Millwood, VA. The Lloyds would go to Virginia on Monday morning and stay until Wednesday and then return home in time for prayer meeting at Murrill Hill on Wednesday night. Sometimes Josephine would get to go to Virginia with the family and spend the night with the Lloyds. One trip she especially remembers was her first visit to the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C.
Rev. C.W. Lloyd and his family will always be remembered with great fondness. The Fellowship Hall downstairs at Chestnut Hill was named Lloyd Hall in his honor. Rev. Lloyd was buried in Berryville, VA.
At Rev. Lloyd's death, Cyril J. Hoover, a retired pastor living in Hagerstown, MD was chosen to fill the pulpit as a Supply Pastor. Rev. Hoover had retired just the year before and served only one year with the Shenandale Charge.
This seems like a good place to stop today's history. Rev. Lloyd and his family certainly influenced so many people here at Chestnut Hill Church and in the community. Following Rev. Lloyd's death, the Charge was told that another parsonage was needed before a pastor could be appointed here. At our next History Sunday in June, I will begin with the building of the new parsonage and continue with our next pastor, Rev. Blaine Rinker.
Chestnut Hill United Methodist Church
Fifth Sunday - 2007 (June)
At out last History Sunday I told of the appointment in 1937 of Clarence Washington Lloyd to the Shenandale Parish. I also told of Pastor Lloyd's service to this Parish having been reappointed for a total of 29 consecutive years at the time of his death in 1966.
At Rev. Lloyd's death, Cyril Hoover, a retired pastor living in Hagerstown was chosen to fill the pulpit as a Supply Pastor. Rev. Hoover did not live at the parsonage. The parsonage was in great need of repairs and the Charge was told that another parsonage was needed before Conference would appoint another pastor to the charge.
On June 25, 1966, an agreement was signed between MICO Corporation of WV, a general contracting company from Martinsburg, and Jean Danner, C.N. Hawk, and George Milton, the Trustees of the Shenandale Charge for the construction of a new 3 bedroom, 1 bath home to be used as the parsonage for the Charge. The chosen design was called the Williamsburg Standard. The contractor agreed to have the work completed by the 90th working day from the June date for full payment of $13,764.00. Blakely Bank & Trust in Charles Town made a loan of $9,000. Dr. Raymond Roderick, the District Superintendant, sent a personal letter and gift of $ 100 and the Missionary Society of the Hagerstown District sent $1000.00 to get started on the parsonage.
While MICO Corporation of WV was doing the construction the Charge was responsible for all excavating and grading, both rough and final.
On December 22, 1966, final settlement was made on the new parsonage. A parsonage complete with the newest Tappan kitchen appliances was now ready for a new pastor!!
The first pastor and family to move into the new parsonage was Francis Blaine Rinker with his wife, Wilda, and their 5 children. Can you image 2 adults and 5 children and only 1 bathroom?!!!
It was while Rev. Blaine and Wilda Rinker were serving the Shenandale Parish that it was decided more space was needed by the congregation for Sunday School classes, and so the old one room school which had been the first home of the congregation and was now called the Wesley House, began to be used for Sunday School.
In 1968, Bishop John Wesley Lord appointed Rev. Robert Woodward to the Shenandale Parish. Rev. Woodward and his wife Grace brought many talents to the charge. Both were musically gifted, plus Rev. Woodward had a special way of getting the 3 churches to work together. During his time with the charge, a combined choir was created for special services and a combined Administrative Board made up of representatives from all 3 churches was formed. The MYF was very active with advisors Calvin & Ruth Manuel, John & Josephine Mercer, and John & Jean Danner.
In 1968, Chestnut Hill had a total of 141 church members plus 48 probationary members. The pastor's salary was $1900 with an additional $800 for travel for a total of $2700.00. At this time Chestnut Hill was on "equitable salary" meaning Chestnut Hill paid a portion of the pastor's salary and Conference paid a portion. John Danner was President of the Church Trustees.
The parsonage was valued at $17,500 with the land being valued at $500. The unpaid balance on the parsonage at this time was $8,213.00.
In 1968 new altarware (the cross and candlesticks we still use today) was purchased in memory of Rev. C.W. Lloyd. Also purchased were new paraments, new acolyte robes, new hymnals, a new piano, and new flower vases. All of this was of course being used for worship services in the white frame Chestnut Hill Methodist Church across the street!
Rev. Bob Woodward served the Shenandale Charge for 2 years.
In 1970, Bishop Lord, presiding over the 186th Annual Conference in Washington appointed Emory Allen McGraw to the Shenandale Circuit. Rev. McGraw was an Associate Member of the Annual Conference and came to us from 5 years on the Wesley Charge. He served the Shenandale Charge from 1970 through 1972.
Let me backtrack just a bit.....Late in December 1967, a local resident and neighbor donated to the Chestnut Hill Methodist Church congregation a parcel of land joining the parsonage property.
On March 17, 1972, after lengthy periods of talking and planning, a special meeting of the congregation was called at which time a decision was made to have an architect, Mr. Shumaker, draw plans fora new church building to be located on this newly acquired piece of ground
On October 4, 1973, a special ground breaking ceremony was held, and although the cash flow was limited, the congregation, with the promise of a lot of volunteer labor and donations of some materials, and other material gotten at a reduced cost, began work on the new two story brick structure.
"new, new" Church Under Construction
At the 1973 Annual Conference, Bishop James Matthews appointed Mary Ann Kvapil to the Charge. Rev. Kvapil had graduated from a Presbyterian Seminary and was accepted as a Lay Pastor. Rev. Kvapil came into the Chestnut Hill Church with a very involved building project in progress.
On March 9, 1975, with a contribution of $5,000 from the United Methodist Conference Board of Missions, a mortgage note in the amount of $20,000 was negotiated and signed and the new Church sanctuary with a Fellowship hall were assured.
On July 4, 1976 (which was the celebration date of the bicentennial of the United States) on this same July 4, the Sunday morning worship for Chestnut Hill United Methodist Church began in the old church structure and with a procession of the members of the congregation, led by Humphrey Wilt, the layleader , carrying the Bible, proceeded from the old building with the altarware, the hymnals, flags and other Church items across the street into the new Sanctuary to complete the first service in the new church.
The Grand Procession July 4th 1976
There was still a lot of work to be done on the Fellowship Hall portion of the construction which did not become available for use until December 16, 1976.
We have come a long way so far
- From John Wesley and the beginnings of societies or classes being held in member's homes
- to the beginning of the Shannondale Parish named after the famous Shannondale Springs
- to the move to join the Methodist Episcopal Church, South
- to the Bithas Green one room schoolhouse where Rev, Robert Nevitt organized the Chestnut Hill Church
- to July 27, 1907 and the laying of the cornerstone for the first Chestnut Hill Methodist Church
- through the purchase of a parsonage and the building of a new parsonage
- and now to step out in faith to construct a new brick Chestnut Hill United Methodist Church complete with Fellowship Hall
But we are not finished. There is more to come at our next segment of Chestnut Hill history in July.
Chestnut Hill United Methodist Church
Sixth Sunday - 2007 (July)
At our last History Sunday I told of the building of this new church and the faith and dedication involved to actually see this project to fruition. Always remember July 4, 1976 and the first Sunday service in the new sanctuary.
Today we will begin our story with our next pastor, Rev. Frank Mentzer, who was assigned to the Shenandale Charge in 1978. Rev. Mentzer and his wife Virginia came to us from New Mexico. He was retired from the Park Service and shared a great love of history especially of Bible times with the congregation. He also started a history of the Shenandale Parish some of which I have shared with you. Rev. Mentzer served from 1978-1982.
Rev. Bob Cook followed Rev. Mentzer. Rev. Cook was a young pastor who rode a motorcycle and who our son Rick thought was the neatest pastor in the world! (I think the motorcycle had something to do with that.) His wife, Martha, Was also in ministry. Rev. Cook served the Shenandale Parish from 1982-1984.
In 1984, Rev. Kim Capps was assigned to the Shenandale Charge. Since moving into the new brick church, the congregation had worked diligently to clear the Church of any debt and on Sunday, April 13, 1986, at 4:30 in the afternoon, less than 10 years after moving into the new building, a special service of dedication and the burning of the mortgage was held. Bishop Joseph Yeakel along with a number of former pastors of the church joined Rev. Kim Capps in this very important and historic day in the history of the Chestnut Hill United Methodist Church.
After leaving Chestnut Hill in 1986, Rev. Capps became involved in campus ministry. She is currently the campus minister at the University of Maryland at College Park. She was awarded the honor of being named the Church's top campus minister in 2005.
In 1986, Rev. Cheryl Thompson came to the Shenandale Charge. She and her husband Bruce, who was the associate pastor at Asbury UM in Charles Town, shared 4 years with Chestnut Hill. During Rev. Thompson's tenure, the United Methodist Men became involved with the Potato Project to distribute gleaned potatoes to the needy in the area. The United Methodist Women also were involved with a number of community service projects. During this time the Chestnut Hill family started a park fund with Reba Ring as its treasurer. We poured concrete in the park area and constructed a pavilion. This made a great place for picnics for the Church and community.
Rev. Thompson served the charge until 1990.
Rev. Henry Fisher arrived at Chestnut Hill in 1990 with his wife, Amy, and daughter, Michelle. The Fishers also had 5 other children who were grown. Pastor Henry had a variety of jobs, from parking cars, to driving a truck for a bakery, to being a janitor for a Lutheran church before yielding to the Lord and completing his prescribed course of study to become a minister. He was ordained in June 1971.
In addition to serving the Lord through pastoring, the Fishers also were involved in Foster Care. During the years of his ministry, they provided temporary care for over 65 different children. You may remember Sean and Brandon O'Malley who visited us earlier in May. These young brothers were among those cared for by the Fishers.
Times were not always easy for the Fishers, with Henry's bouts with cancer and the loss of a son in an auto accident, but through the grace of God and their very strong faith, they continue to serve the Lord today.
During the tenure of Rev. Fisher, Chestnut Hill started a softball team in the Jefferson County Church League. Butch Enos and Larry Hawk were manager and coach. The first year, 1997, the team ended up in 4th place and received a trophy for the most improved team.
In June 1997, Pastor Henry retired from ministry. A wonderful celebration of his many years of service was held at the Cliffside Inn where his favorite singing group, the Serenity Singers from Pennsylvania, entertained and family and friends enjoyed a buffet meal and a "This is your Life, Rev. Henry Fisher".
In July 1997, Rev. Basil Day, Jr. was assigned to the Shenandale Charge. Rev. Day with his new bride, Cindy, and son Ethan, joined the Chestnut Hill family. Rev. Day was a wonderfully gifted musician playing both the piano and the organ. This talent was enjoyed by all who heard him play. Rev. Day was -also a great promoter of the park and playground and during his time extra efforts were made to improve this area with play equipment.
The softball team continued to bring players and fans to the games. There were some innings where Rev. Day could be seen playing second base. In 1998 the team placed 6th at the end of the season. In 1999, it won a trophy for 3rd in a preseason tournament. The team continued to garner awards and in 2000, was the 1st runner-up during the JCCL season.
Rev. Day taught us the true significance of the Passover Seder meal during Lent. We heard the story of the Jewish exodus from Egypt, learned about and enjoyed various foods eaten in the Jewish home to remind family members of the difficult times they had suffered but also to remind them of God's promise of freedom for the Jewish people.
Rev. Day and Cindy added another son, Evan, to the family prior to leaving Chestnut Hill in 2000.
Pastor Donnie Jane Cardwell and husband, Dale, arrived at Chestnut Hill in July 2000. The Cardwells are the parents of two sons and one daughter. Both sons are involved in ministry. The Cardwell's love of the water have resulted in their owning several boats, most recently a pontoon boat where family and friends can gather at the marina at Raystown Lake in PA.
Pastor Donnie brought a strong message and a nurturing concern to the charge. She began the combined 5th Sunday charge service at Chestnut Hill and stressed the importance of tithing for both members and the church. A church tithing fund was established with 10% of all incoming church funds being set aside to aid persons in need. Throughout the years, many people have been helped with their financial problems.
During the past 7 years, Chestnut Hill has installed a new sound system using PowerPoint for contemporary songs during worship. A new climbing fort was added to the playground as well as some comfortable swings. New carpet both upstairs and down have been added and a new welcoming marque sign in front of the church giving upcoming dates and messages has been installed, and many new members have joined the Chestnut Hill family.
The softball team continued to do well by winning both the season championship and the tournament championship in 2001. In 2002 they placed second in league play, but due to the fact that after repeated requests, very few players found time to attend church, Pastor Donnie and the Ad Council decided not to continue sponsorship of the team.
Chestnut Hill again took on the sponsorship of the Boy Scouts in 2005 and also provided a place for the Girl Scouts to meet and enjoy fellowship and fun.
So much has happened. Look around you and see the plaques on the back of the pews and on the windows naming those who contributed toward the church building. The beautiful stained glass windows: the center window placed by Fred Law in memory of his mother. The other two front windows and the first carpet in the sanctuary were purchased from donations made by members and friends. Other plaques show the altarware given in memory of Rev. C.W. Lloyd, the first set of paraments given in memory of George W. Wilt and Walter Wilt, who were Jean Danner's father and brother. After this first communion table scarf with burned by fire from an acolyte flame, the second and present set of paraments were given again in memory of George and Rosie Wilt and Walter Wilt by the family. The beautiful Allen organ was purchased by donations given in memory of Gary Piper, a young member who was tragically killed in an auto accident. The flags- both Christian and American were given in memory of Luther Lanham by Butch and Edna Enos.
But look farther and see the plaque on the back wall that honors Chestnut Hill members who have given tireless efforts for a better tomorrow, and also the two plaques from 1969 near the front door naming Chestnut Hill as the Town and Country Church of the year both at the Baltimore Annual Conference and in the Hagerstown District. Also see the awards for beautification of God's country through the Adopt-A-Highway Program and the Keep Jefferson Beautiful Program by Chestnut Hill United Methodist and guided by Calvin and Ruth Manuel through the years.
The dedicated workers with the Vacation Bible School, the Sunday School teachers giving of their time, the Methodist Youth Fellowship and leaders through the years, the Youth Group and their Saturday night open house in the old Church, the Church picnics, and the Christmas programs, the Candlelight services, and the revivals, the missions support especially of Jefferson Co. Community Ministries and the Food Pantry, the making of applebutter each fall, first started as a fund-raising project, but continued throughout the years, the pancake and sausage suppers, and the spaghetti dinners, and the car washes.....all these things are part of the faith and fellowship of the Chestnut Hill United Methodist Church.
I am sure that somewhere along the line I have failed to acknowledge persons or programs that also made up the Chestnut Hill story. I have truly worked hard at researching and compiling this information on this incredible church and its family. If you have additional info that I may have missed I would be happy to include it in our church story.
And now 100 years from the time of Rev. Robert Nevitt and those first 10 members who began the Methodist class on this mountainside to Pastor Donnie and the current members and friends and the possibility, with God's leading, of Chestnut Hill becoming a station church, all of these make Chestnut Hill United Methodist what it is today. The lives of faith that have passed through these doors will forever be remembered.
We ask, 0 Lord, that peace and prosperity be always found within these walls, and that Thy glory may be the light thereof, and that all who come within it may be satisfied with the goodness of Thy love, through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.