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Last service held at Cooleemee Methodist

By KC Smith

Cooleemee Correspondent

On Dec. 29, 2019 the morning service at Cooleemee United Methodist Church was history in the making. Approximately 40 people attended, including the 10 devoted members.

Bill Campbell welcomed everyone with a solemn tone of voice. 1901 was a long time ago and for current members and others, the transition of change will take time.

Pastor Kevin Jasper, presiding paster of Cooleemee Methodist, pastor of Bethel Methodist and Woodleaf Methodist, delivered a message titled “Joseph’s Other Dreams.”

It was the last service at the church.

The decision to merge with Smith Grove United Methodist Church was necessary.  With falling membership it was time to make some important decisions.

Pastor Daren Crotts of Smith Grove was nominated as district leadership of Yadkin Valley District Vitality Team, which is comprised of more than 150 churches.

The focus of discussion was to avoid a typical closing of the Methodist church but to somehow create a presence in Cooleemee by creating community engagement and more vital ministries in a community context.

The members could have dug their feet in deep and opposed the discussions but leaving a legacy was important, and what better way to honor founders of the church.

For about eight months, the fellowship hall was filled with ideas from the community about what needs the facility could accommodate, and a community survey was completed.

Smith Grove could have provided 10 members from their church to keep the church going but Crotts said that wouldn’t work. “The community has to grow it.  We want to bring health and wholeness in the goodness of Christ and create followers and believers of Jesus and community.”

Due to the openness of the members while being bathed in prayer, the influence of the holy spirit devised great ideas for the future of the church.

Diane Everhardt Snipes, daughter of late Virginia Benson Everhardt, and Pat Gales Campbell, daughter of late Libby Benson Gales, are cousins, for their mothers were sisters.

Their grandfather, Sam Benson, was a carpenter and woodworker for Erwin Mills and he made the podium for the church.

Snipes’ father was Richard R. Everhardt and he had a wonderful bass tone in his singing and often delivered solos at services. The organ has his name including others engraved on a metal plaque.

Sue Eudy is the oldest member and Diane Snipes is the second oldest member.  They both were crib babies in the church.  Dot Cranford is actually the oldest member but moved out of town.

Bobbie Howard Black and the former Judy Howard donated the stone communion set in memory of Mrs. Gail Sheppard.

Anyone interested in speaking to pastor Jasper at 336-782-6947 or pastor Crotts at 336-909-1919 may do so by phone, over a cup of coffee or a visit to the church.  Weddings, non-profits, churches needing locations for services, etc. are just a few opportunities.

This transition is in the making and much excitement is abound. A facility usage board has been created and will take one case at a time. A beneficial mission outpost with providing health and wholeness with easy access to the community is the focus.

Church History

The Rev. J.M. Downum started Cooleemee United Methodist Church in 1901, starting on Watt Street before moving to a hall over the J.N. Ledford Co.

In the fall of 1901, the Rev. J.B. Craven was assigned to be the first pastor, and construction began on the church building on the crest of the hill on Main Street. The first wooden structure stood for about 30 years, during which time it was remodeled twice. The present brick structure with a seating capacity of 350 was built on the same site in 1932 under the leadership of the Rev. George Clay at a cost of $15,000.

In 1982, Cooleemee and Hardison United Methodist churches became the Cooleemee-Hardison Charge.

In 1992, renovations were completed to the lower floor of the education building, and a Head Start daycare program for preschool children began full time.

In 1998, Sandra Martin became the first female pastor. In 1999, the Rev. Dennis Marshall and his wife Larue started a community ministry for children with the Kids Kamp and Mustard Seed Greenhouse Ministry.

In 2001, Hardison became a station church, so Cooleemee became independent with a part-time minister, the Rev. Perry Bradshaw, who remained until 2010. The Rev. Patrick Marion followed until 2017.

Cooleemee then was placed on a charge with Bethel United Methodist Church with the Rev. Tony Owens as pastor. In 2018, Woodleaf United Methodist Church joined that charge, with the Rev. Kevin Jasper as pastor.

Pastors

Rev. J.M. Downum

Rev. HD Byrum

Rev. W.Y. Scales

Rev. C.M. Short

Rev. C.L. McClain

Rev. N.R. Richardson

Rev. C.B. Bowling

Rev. P.L. Shore

Rev. J.A.J. Farrington

Rev. A.C. Tippet

Rev. T.J. Houck

Rev. G.W. Clay

Rev. J.M. Barber

Rev. A.A. Kyles

Rev. F.J. Stough

Rev. H.C. Freeman

Rev. W.A. Jenkins

Rev. F.H. Shinn

Rev. Harold Austin

Rev. P.H. Gibbs

Rev. J.T. Melton

Rev. C.J. Hartsell

Rev. W.H. Dingus

Rev. Avery Ferguson

Rev. John Edwards

Rev. Alton Fitzgerald

Rev. Wade Childers

Rev. Joseph Collins

Rev. Jay Boyd

Rev. Sandra Martin

Rev. Dennis Marshall

Rev. Perry Bradshaw

Rev. Patrick Marion

Rev. Tony Owens

Rev. Kevin Jasper

Called to Ministry

Rev. Dwight Brown

Rev. Marvin Wellman

Rev. Fletcher Howard

Rev. Raymond Smith

Rev. John Albert Lowder

Rev. Henry Ridenhour

Rev. David Snipes