by Albert Ashew
by Nelle Price Epps
United Methodist Church has a rich and full history. Although somewhat
obscure in its recorded documentation, Ray’s Church is located
at 1521 Ray’s Church Road, about one mile south of Ga. Highway
53, at the edge of the Eastville Community. It is in the Athens-Elberton
District of North Georgia Annual Conference of the United Methodist
Church. Ray’s and Johnson Churches make up the Johnson-Ray’s
United Methodist Charge.
Earliest records show Ray’s as being on the Watkinsville Circuit.
The History of Watkinsville United Methodist Church and Parsonage, compiled
by Mrs. Mildred Bishop (1978) tells some of the story of Ray’s
Church. The list of pastors of the Watkinsville Circuit would also be
Ray’s pastors until 1963, when the Johnson-Ray’s Charge
It is believed that Ray’s Chapel was a place of worship in 1829
or before, for there is a gravestone of that date (D. T. Houze-1829).
As early as 1822, there was a junior preacher on the Appalachee Circuit
by the name of Andrew Ray. In 1828, there was an Anderson Ray (may have
been the same person) as preacher in charge and again in 1848. Whether
this pastor gave the land for a church, or organized the congregation,
or simply was held in high esteem by the people is not known. No original
deed record can be found in Clarke County Court House. Mrs. Mary Whitehead
Hilsman told this writer that her grandfather, Richard Malone Whitehead,
was one of the original trustees.
There must have been a meeting house by 1842, for in the Clarke County
records (Deed Book “S”, page 13) Malinda Cagle deeded to
the trustees of Ray’s meeting house a pathway to the spring. Evidently
there had been a meetinghouse there for some time. According to information
given by Frank Parrish in the Watkinsville UMC history, the second building
was blown away by a cyclone in 1902. Although there was much destruction,
the communion table seemed not to have been moved. The church was rebuilt
in 1904. According the Quarterly Conference records of March 30, 1850,
Ray’s was one of 21 churches and two missions on the Watkinsville
In 1955, The Watkinsville Methodist Circuit was composed of Watkinsville,
Johnson, and Ray’s churches. In the annual report of the Official
Board, Frank Parrish, Chairman, reported that two revivals had been
held. One of these was regarded as “one of the best in resent
years, of high spiritual quality and as great turning to God.”
Mr. Parrish stated that a Lord’s Acre project had been organized
to help in the construction of the Sunday School Annex and a Methodist
Men’s Club had been organized. That year D. H. Malcom was Sunday
School Superintendent, Mrs. Helen Parrish was president of the Women’s
Society of Christian Service, and Sylvia Aycock reported activities
of the Youth Fellowship. Charles H. Duffey was pastor at that time.
There were 137 members on the roll.
When Ray’s and Johnson churches became a separate pastoral charge
in 1963, there was a need for a parsonage. Ray’s trustees received
an acre of land from D. H. Malcom on July 25, 1962 to be used as a site
for a parsonage for the two churches. The parsonage is located on Malcom
Bridge Road in the Eastville community.
In 1987, the following members were recognized as having been members
of Ray’s Church for forty years or longer, listed in order of
reception into the church: Mrs. Beatrice Barnett Aycock, Mrs. Mary Whitehead
Hilsman, Mrs. Sarah Malcom Freeman, Mrs.Oliwee Cobb, Mrs Wilda Whitehead
Dillard, Weymon Dillard, Mrs. Floy Wheeler Aycock, John G. Cobb, Jr.,
Mrs. Mary Hancock Mahle, Miss Carrie Bell Mahle, Mrs. Jewell Mahle DeLay,
Ray DeLay, Don Michael, Walter Harris Malcom, John C. Christopher, Mrs
Lillian Christopher, and Mrs. Rachel Christopher Ward.
At the present time (1989) Ray’s UMC has a membership of 75, worship
services each Sunday, Sunday school, youth fellowship, and United Methodist
to Church Records