A HISTORY OF THE MACCLENNY UNITED METHODIST CHURCH


It is with joy and gratitude that we celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Macclenny United Methodist Church. The history of the Macclenny United Methodist Church is somewhat sketchy and incomplete because some of the records are missing. Some of them were destroyed by fire and some have been lost or destroyed in some other way.

The earliest record of the Church is the deed dated June 6, 1884. This deed transfers the present property from Carr B. McClenny and Ada McClenny, his wife, to the Trustees of the St. Mary's Mission of the Live Oak District of the Florida Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The sum of one dollar is acknowledged in full payment. The deed was witnessed by John McIvor and A. M. Darby. The acknowledgement was made before John McIvor, who was Justice of the Peace. F. J. Pons was the Clerk of the Circuit Court at that time. It is interesting to note that Macclenny was then called the Village of Darbyville and that the Courthouse was located at Sanderson.

The next account is found in THE FLORIDA SENTINEL, the local newspaper of that day, under the date of Saturday, November 26, 1887. We quote:

FAREWELL SERMON

Tomorrow at 11 A.M. Rev. S. S. Gasque will preach his farewell sermon at the M. E. Church at this appointment, and in the evening at Bluff Creek.

Apparently, then, in the three-year interim between the acquisition of the property and this farewell message a church building has been erected and services held regularly. And, too, the St. Mary's Mission seems to have been a part of a circuit which then included Bluff Creek.

The land adjoining the Church property on the south and the building thereon, was acquired on February 4, 1893. The deed transfers the said property from Ada McClenny and Carr B. McClenny to the Trustees of the Methodist Church who then were F. G. Williams, H. S. Reed, and M. G. Berry. This deed was witnessed by Mott Howard, County Judge, and Walter M. Turner. A receipt for $39.60, dated February 4, 1893, is attached to the deed and states that it covers the obligations against the Church to date. This receipt is signed by C. B. McClenny and Mott Howard. There is a clause in this deed which restricts the use of the property. It must be used for a church, a parsonage, or other church uses.

The next authentic record is from The Baker County Press of January 8, 1901. Under the heading of "CHURCH NEWS" there appears this announcement:

METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH, SOUTH Services every second Sunday at 11 A.M. and 7 P.M., Rev. Oliver Faus, pastor, Sunday School every Sunday at 3 P.M., S. F. Bair, Superintendent. Prayer-meeting Wednesday at 7 P.M.

Apparently, the Church was prospering because it now had one full day's services per month and Sunday School and Prayer Meeting were held weekly. That "Church News" column contains something else of interest. Two other churches have announcements, too, and the services do not conflict. The St. James Episcopal Chapel had services on the first Sunday and the Bethel Baptist Church had its services on the third Sunday. This consideration for the services of the other churches shows a fine spirit of Christian cooperation. Each church, however, had its own Sunday School.

In the same issue of the paper there is an account of the Christmas Tree Exercises which were "well attended and a big success from start to finish." It seems that one of the joys of being pastor back in 1901 was to impersonate Santa Claus.

Sometime between 1884 and 1903 the name of the Church was changed from the St. Mary's Mission to the Macclenny Mission of the Live Oak District of the Florida Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.

In 1903, the Macclenny Mission Charge consisted of the churches at Macclenny, Baldwin, Mt. Olivet, and Bryceville. Of these churches, Mt. Olivet is the only one not now in existence. It was burned quite a long time ago after it was no longer used as a church.

The quarterly Conference Roll for 1903 includes the following names:
T. J. Nixon, Presiding Elder; L. B. Thurmond, Pastor; S. F. Bair, Steward and Trustee; J. E. Sessions, Steward; C. C. Fraser, Sunday School Superintendent; M. G. Berry, Steward and Trustee; Charles Iserman, Trustee; J. C. Herndon, Trustee; and J. L. Vining, Trustee.

According to the report of the Trustees at the Fourth Quarterly Conference of that year, the church property was valued at $500. There was a church at Macclenny, but there was no parsonage.

In 1903, the Church, according to the pastor's reports stressed the spiritual education of the children, but the following year, chief emphasis seems to have been shifted to mission, both home and foreign. Perhaps this was due in part, at least, to a change in pastors, for in 1904, Rev. J. M. Boland became pastor of the Charge.

In February, 1904, the Woman's Home Missionary Society was organized with nineteen active and four honorary members.

This year is notable, also, because Macclenny became a part of the Jacksonville District, and because it marked the beginning of the parsonage building. According to the Trustees' report, $250.97 was spent on the parsonage that year.

Three items of interest appear in The Standard for June 24, 1904. Two of them are in the column "Church News." The first one states that services are held in the Macclenny Church at 11 A.M. and 7:30 P.M. on the second and fourth Sundays. Apparently, the Church had grow strong enough to have half-time. The second item in this column reads: "METHODIST EPISCOPAL-Macedonia--Rev. E. F. Dean, Pastor. Services every fourth Sunday at 11 o'clock A.M." The third item is the announcement of the Children's Day Exercises to be held on the following Sunday night.

In 1905, J. P. Hilburn was Presiding Elder, and J. M. Tolbert was the pastor at the first Quarterly Conference. At the Second Quarterly Conference, William Kamin was the pastor in charge. And at the Fourth Quarterly Conference, F. L. Glennin was reported as the pastor. No explanation for these changes was given in the Minutes of the Conference.

During 1906, the first Epworth League was organized. The officers were: Max Brown, President; Annie Carroll, First Vice-President; Effie Turner, Second Vice-President; W. H. Peaks, Secretary; and J. W. Wester, Treasurer. But this League seems not to have lasted very long, for at the end of the next conference year the pastor reported no Epworth League on the Charge.

In 1907, J. A. Hendry was the Presiding Elder and W. F. Fletcher was the pastor. During the year, Bishop Galloway transferred Rev. Fletcher to Mayo and sent W. H. Steinmyer to Macclenny in his place.

The following announcement appeared in The Baker County Standard for July 2, 1909:

"Rev. E J. Hardee of Lake Butler filled his regular appointment in the Methodist Church Sunday."

And in The Baker County Standard of June 24, 1910, is found:

"Preaching at the Methodist Church Sunday morning at 11-o'clock by the Pastor, Rev. Clark. Children's Day Exercises will be given in the evening at 7:30. The public are cordially invited to attend these services."

The cornerstone of the present building was laid in 1914. The old building was moved back and used during the erection of the new church. The lumber in the old church was later used to construct a much-needed addition to the old parsonage. The new building is of brick and has stained-glass windows. Two of these were memorial windows--one to the pastor, Gus A. Davis, under whose guidance the building was begun and the other to the Woman's Missionary Society. The funds for these windows were provided by the Missionary Society. The building was not completed until 1926. Rev. B. G. Lawhern, who served the Church in 1925, began its completion. It was finished the following year under the leadership of Rev. F. W. Cramer. Rev. Cramer did a very large share of the work himself. He was assisted by his father-in-law, Rev. Wanamaker, who was a retired minister. The pews and the choir stall were entirely made and painted by them, and the Chancel Rail was the work of Rev. Wanamaker himself.

When the building was complete, the church was dedicated. The service of dedication took place in 1926 while Rev. Cramer was still the pastor. It was fitting that one who had given so much time and labor should have the privilege of seeing those labors crowned. It was during the spring of 1926 that the membership of the small Glen St. Mary Methodist Church became united with the Macclenny Church. In union there is strength, and the one church has been stronger since the union.

Thirty years later, beginning in 1956, new construction began to take place. Under the watchful eye of lay member, Jesse Frank Morris, the old wooden parsonage was moved 75 feet east, and a newly constructed brick Fellowship Hall was built, being attached to it. It was during this period that the present Choir Room, Church Office, and covered Archway was constructed. A new brick parsonage was constructed on the original site where the old one had been.

In 1968, while Rev. James Moore was pastor, a new Sunday School Educational Wing was built, providing an additional seven classrooms. To raise the necessary funds, a Bond program was established, the sale of Bonds being organized by our Church, and handled by a local Banking Institution. It was also during this period, that an extensive renovation of the original Sanctuary was begun, under the leadership of the building committee, composed of Ed Doss, Maebrooks Allen, A. L. "Dot" Finley, and Bill Nagle. A new entrance-way to the Sanctuary was built, two store rooms added, ceiling lowered, new pews installed, and the interior completely renovated.

Since it's beginning in 1884, our Church has had 57 Pastors. Our present pastor is Rev. William McLoud, who has been serving since 1977. During this time, we have paid off the Bond program and put new roofs on the Fellowship Hall and Educational Wing. In 1978, a day care Pre-School Program for 4 and 5 year olds was begun, which is still operating. In 1981, we purchased a 15 passenger Church Van. More recently, we have carpeted the Sunday School rooms, office and choir room. This past year we undertook an extensive renovation of the Fellowship Hall, with new windows, floor, ceiling, walls, and heating and cooling units. The parsonage was also remodeled, with a new kitchen, additional insulation, and renovation of the living and dining rooms.

In preparation for our Centennial, we are endeavoring to do several projects: repaint the sanctuary roof, repair the wood surrounding the stained-glass windows, and paint the eaves on all the church property.

As we prepare for our 100th Anniversary our membership stands at 330. We are grateful for having been given the opportunity to serve the Lord, and look forward to another century of service in His name.

PASTORS

Rev. W. P. 0. Cain, Pastor of St. Mary's Circuit in 1884 and 1885
Rev. S. S. Gasque, appointed to circuit in January, 1886
Rev. J. W. Folsom
Rev. E. S. Tysser
Rev. W. S. McMannen
Rev. R. H. Barnett
Rev. John White
Rev. W. C. Norton, appointed in January, 1893.
Rev. G. G. Kennelly
Rev. R. L. Summer
Rev. C. P. Setzer
Rev. L. W. Moore
Rev. J. K. Dodd
Rev. Oliver Faus, in 1901 till? (Services one Sunday per month.)
Rev. L. B. Thurmond, 1903
Rev. J. M. Boland, 1904
Rev. J. H. D. McRae, named at conference in June, 1904
(Rev. J. B. Hilburn, presiding Elder in 1906-1907)
Rev. J. M. Talbert - 1st Quarterly Conference
Rev. William Kamin - 2nd Quarterly Conference
Rev. F. L. Glennin - 4th Quarterly Conference
Rev. W. K. Steinmeyer-1908
Rev. E. J. Hardee-1909
Rev. Clark-1910
Rev. A. B. Holton-1911-1912
Rev. Gus A. Davis-1914-1917 (First one to stay 4 years)
Rev. J. L. Bourne-1918
Rev. George Summers-1919
Rev. J. W. Lynn-Feb. 1, 1920
Rev. B. T. Rope, Jr.-1921
Rev. J. M. Belt-1922
Rev. J. L. Bourne-1923
Rev. B. T. Lawhern-1924-25
Rev. F. W. Cramer-1926
Rev. H. G. Davis appointed at Conference in 1927 but died on Oct. 23, 1927
Rev. J. T. Weissenger transferred to Macclenny, Dec. 15, 1927 until June, 1928.
Rev. Joseph Barton-1928 till June, 1929.
Rev. W. D. Culpepper from June, 1929 to June, 1930.
Rev. W. M. Labb served 18 months from June, 1930 to Dec., 1931.
Rev. W. S. Rogers-Jan. 19, 1932 - Dec., 1934
Rev. J. E. Skipper - Jan., 1935-June, 1935
Rev. W. G. Strickland - June, 1935 to June, 1936
Rev. W. J. Palmer - June, 1936 to June, 1938
Rev. T. M. Lee-1938-1939
Rev. J. E. Hartsfield-1939-1941
Rev. Martin R. Davis - 1941-1943
Rev. H. T. Foley - 1943-1949
Rev. Thomas Texton - 1949-1950
Rev. E. D. Conway - 1950-1952
Rev. Donald Kribbs-1952-1956
Rev. 0. Bruce Pickering - 1956-1961
Rev. W. E. Rowell 1961-1963
Rev. L. E. Watkins 1963-1965
Rev. James H. Moore - 1965-1970
Rev. Paul Watts - 1970-1973
Rev. Sanford Mayo - 1973-1977
Rev. William S. McLoud - 1977-1984
Rev. Henry Cribb - 1984-1988
Rev. Daniel J. Parrish - 1988-1991
Rev. Gary N. Beam - 1991-1993
Rev. John B. Gill., III - 1993-1997
Rev. W. Joseph Clark - 1997-1998
Rev, John L. Hay, Jr. - June 1998
Rev. Warren Thomas Pope - Jun 2007

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