What is "The Church"

The universal church is the church that consists of all those who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:13 says, "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many." We see that anyone who believes is part of the body of Christ. The true church of God is not any particular church building or denomination. The universal church of God is all those who have received salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

The Birth of Methodism 

John Wesley did not plan to found a new church. He was an ordained minister in the Church of England. Leaders of the Wesleyan Societies decided to leave the Church of England and become the Methodist Church after John Wesley’s death. 

The cornerstone of the first Methodist chapel was laid in Bristol, England, May 12, 1799.

Methodism spread first to Ireland and then to America. These were the missionaries who brought Methodism to America:

  • Philip Embury and Robert Strawbridge, lay preachers from Ireland, came to New York City and Frederick County Maryland respectively in 1766.
  • John Wesley sent Richard Broadman and Joseph Pilmore to America in 1769.
  • Frances Asbury came became the leader of American Methodism in 1781.

On December 24, 1784, the Methodist Episcopal Church was organized by about 60 preachers who gathered at the Christmas Conference in Lovely Lane Chapel in Baltimore, Maryland.

Pelham Church Origins

Pelham United Methodist Church is listed on the Religious Heritage Trail of Southeast Tennessee.  The Trail includes historical churches, cemeteries, a Catholic Shrine, a Holocaust Memorial, the Scopes Trial Museum and many other significant sites.

Please visit us at Southeast Tennessee Religious Heritage Trail with the department of tourism

 By 1813, Rev. Isaac Conger rode the Elk River Circuit, which encompassed Pelham Valley. Rev. Conger’s diary indicates that he preached at nearby Elkhead in Burrows’ Cove. Conger rode a circuit including Bedford, Coffee, Franklin, Moore, Warren, and Grundy Counties and is the earliest know Methodist in Pelham Valley. *

 By 1823 the Pelham Methodist Episcopal Church was established on land given by Solomon King Goodman.   Aunt Polexiana (Coulson) Nevill, the deed **states, donated the lumber for the building. That church was located where the present-day Ministry Baptist Church is located at the intersection of U.S. Highway 41 and Paul Parks Lane. This location was home to the Pelham Methodist congregation in two successive churches, one in 1856 and another in 1906 until they moved to a new building located on property given them by Henrietta Bowden Ray next to Pelham School on Highway 50 in 2000.

 In 1844, Pelham Methodist Episcopal Church underwent a name change because of two issues, one of which led eventually to the Civil War. Those issues were (1) the question of slavery and (2) the constitutional issue over the powers of the General Conference verses the episcopacy (bishops). The new name was the Pelham Methodist Episcopal Church South. 

May 10, 1939, the name of the church was changed again to Pelham Methodist Church.

The latest name for the church is Pelham United Methodist Church. This came about in 1968 when the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church (originally German speaking people in the Northeast and Midwest who were very similar in belief to Methodists) joined together. 

John Wesley Key Dates

  • 1703 John Wesley born in Epworth, Lincolnshire, England 
  • 1709 Fire at Epworth Rectory - John Wesley rescued. 
  • 1714 Admitted to Charterhouse School, London 
  • 1720 Undergraduate at Christ Church, Oxford 
  • 1725 Ordained deacon 
  • 1726 Elected Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford 
  • 1735 Missionary in Georgia, returning 1737 
  • 1738 Aldersgate experience: "I felt my heart strangely warmed." 
  • 1739 Commences outdoor preaching

From the 1730s until his death, it is calculated that John Wesley traveled some many thousands of miles around Britain, on horseback and by carriage; preached several times each day and wrote or edited some 400 publications. He left behind a movement of about 70,000 members.

  • 1744 First Methodist Conference 
  • 1751 Marriage to Mrs. Mary Vazeille (separated 1755) 
  • 1791 Died on 3 March at City Road, London.

* Isaac Conger’s diary was transcribed by Carey Waldrip and is on file at the Tennessee State Archives in Nashville, TN.

** Franklin Co. Deed from Solomon King Goodman dated 19 Feb. 1823, giving one acre of land.

For a more complete history see Methodism in the Tennessee Conference, Vol. 3, summer 2002, No. 4, pages 211-232.

Methodism in the Tennessee Conference, Vol. 4, Autumn 2002, No. 1, pages 1-9.

Need more information?  Contact Janelle Taylor Church Historian

  May 2021  
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