According to reference sources, Reuben EDMONSON, one of the first pioneers of Weakley County, believed the first organized church society in Weakley County was that of the Methodist Episcopal Church at his fatherís house, on the North Fork of the Obion River, in 1823.
In 1844, Bishop James ANDREW of Georgia, had inherited slaves from his first wifeís estate. General Conference Delegates declared that he free the slaves. Conference also stated that no Methodist could own slaves. At this time, Georgia and most of the Southern states had a law stating that no slave could be freed. Therefore the church split into the Methodist Episcopal Church, North and South.
The Greenfield Methodist Episcopal Church, South was organized in 1887, possibly before the town was incorporated. The Greenfield Methodist Church, South began very much like the first American Methodist Societies. History tells us that members of Mr. Wesleyís societies came to America and banded together in Methodist Societies because they felt the need of that organization, which meant so much to them in old England.
As the little community of Greenfield grew, she brought together a group of people who dearly loved the Methodist Church. For several years, this little band of Methodists were most anxious to have a church organized in Greenfield. J. R. JONES, his family, relatives and friends were finally able, under the leadership of Rev. Finaly Bynum, to organize the church in June, 1887 with eleven members.
Those charter members were; J. R.JONES, Mrs. Fannie JONES, Mary Lou Jones, Toler JONES, J. R. HEATH, Mrs. M. J. HEATH, Roger BRASFIELD, L. Coke BRASFIELd, Mrs. Mary CARTER, Mrs. Lena BOWDEN, and William CARTER, who joined on profession of faith.
Soon seven more members joined the church. They were; W. E. KIRBy, Sally KIRBY, Mrs. B. A. HUMMEL, I. S. SIMPSON, Mrs. B. A. SIMPSON, J. W. PERKINS and H. W. PERKINS.
A real growth took place in 1889. Thirty-two members were added to the church roll and the first church was built.
The present church lot was bought from R. W. (Bob) BARTON for $18.00 on July 9, 1889, with Roger B. BRASFIELD acting as the purchasing agent. the first trustees were J. R. JONES, R. E. KIRKSEY, W. E. KIRBY, J. R. HEATH, W. R. HAWKS, W. B. WHITE and Roger B. BRASFIELD. The Building Committee for this first church was J. R. JONES, Roger BRASFIELD and J. R. HEATH. Ben F. BROCK and his sons, of Brockís Chapel, helped in the erecting of the Greenfield Church. Many people who were not members of the church, donated money, labor and materials toward the erection of the straight, rectangular building.
In the fall of 1889, the Annual Conference sent to Greenfield Bro. R. E. BRASFIELd, better known as ìBro. Bobî. Bro. Bob was a brother to Roger BRASFIELD. During his three year ministry, forty-six members were added to the roll, bringing the membership to ninty-eight for the six year old church.
The young church continued to show a remarkable growth. During the ministry of Bro. Job R. BELL in 1893, one of the greatest revivals in the history of the church was held by Bro. Snell. It was said that all of the cider in town was emptied out and that very little whiskey was found to be destroyed. There were forty-one additions to the church and the effect of the revival must have continued, for in the year of 1894, Bro. J. T. C. COLLINS received thirty- seven into the membership of the church.
Greenfield became a station in 1894 with the salary for the pastor set at $250.00 and $15.00 for the Presiding Elder. (This Presiding Elder is what we now call the District Superintendent). It was said that this small salary was supplemented through the Benevolent offerings of the church. Bro. COLLINS was a scholar and brought to the Greenfield Church a new vigor and power. An Epworth league was formed with about fifty members. A new library was bought for the Epworth League and Sunday School, along with a new supply of hymn books. This library consisted of over one hundred books. Several volumes, of which, are today standards in Methodism. It was at this time that they changed from choir singing to congregation singing.
Bro. J. B. PEARSON came to the church in late fall, 1895. He had the church roll corrected in December and found through death, transfer, etc., the church had lost sixty-five of the 185 members. In 1896, Bro. PEARSON received forty-nine into the church.
In 1897, Greenfield was an active and growing town. There was a large number of people who were not members of any local church. Bro. Henry C. JOHNSON received fifty-five into the church that year.
Bro. Julian J. THOMAS was sent to Greenfield in 1898. During his ministry of four years, eighty-nine members were added to the church membership. At this time, Greenfield M.E.C. was connected, not only with Brockís Chapel, but also with Mt. Herman. This arrangement lasted a few years. This circuit had 279 members and paid the pastor $575.00 and the Presiding Elder $45.00.
Bro. Wellborn MOONEY came to the Greenfield Church in 1902, followed by Bro. E. B. GRAHAM in 1903. Graham added several to the church roll.
Bro. Julian J. THOMAS returned to the Charge in 1904. Several meetings of the Board of Stewards were held that year to deal with the small church attendance. It was decided therefore, to ìGo and ask others to go with usî. In 1904, the salary for the pastor was set at $700.00 and $55.00 for the Presiding Elder. The church not only paid the amount of $172.00 asked for Benevolences, but overpaid it by $18.00. $200.00 was asked and paid for Benevolences in 1905. Bro. THOMAS stated that only 116 of the members had paid on missions.
In these eighteen years, the Greenfield Church had grown from a small church of eleven members to one of over 200. It had outgrown the first house of worship. For several years, the members had been discussing what should be done to the building. Having decided that they could not afford a new building, they decided to remodel. Rev. J. H. EVANS was sent to the Charge in 1906. Under his leadership, action was soon taken toward remodeling. On Feb. 6, 1906, Thomas ALLEN, E. W. JETER and Roger BRASFIELD were appointed to raise the necessary funds for remodeling. The building was changed to include two wings that were used for Sunday School rooms. The building, including the old part, was painted and covered with a new roof. New pulpit furniture, windows, pers and carpets were bought. The Ladies Aid Society paid $164.56 for the carpets. All the expenses of remodeling were paid during 1906. The total expenses were $1487.54. Bro. W. W. Armstrong came to
During the first year of Bro. ARMSTRONGís ministry, there was one of the greatest revivals in the history of the church. In the middle of October, Bro. Gus KLEIN held a revival which resulted in many being saved and some joining the other local churches. On Oct. 20, fifty-two joined the Methodist Church and the following Sunday, thirty more joined. One hundred fourteen joined the church during Bro. ARMSTRONGís first twelve months. The average Sunday School attendance, for 1908, was 125. The pastor was paid $1000.00 and the Presiding Elder, $100.00. Bro. ARMSTRONG also organized two Epworth Leagues, as there had been one for almost five years.
About 1896, the ladies organized a Ladies Aid Society. As has been the case not only in Greenfield, but with most churches, the ladies took the lead in having a parsonage built and furnishing it. It is believed that Bro. J.B. PEARSON was the first pastor to live in the Greenfield parsonage. This white frame house met the needs of the pastors and their families until it was destroyed by fire in 1908. The pastors then had to live around in different houses that were rented most of the time by the church. Although, sometimes the pastors had to pay rent themselves.
In 1915, the house, was bought from Harry Ward for $1500.00. This place was later sold at a profit and a house was bought from Mrs. D.E. Brock, in 1924, for $2200.00. This building housed the pastors and their families until 1956 when, weary with age, it had to be replaced. A three bedroom brick was built at this time.
FIRE AND REBUILDING
On Monday afternoon, Oct. 26, 1908, the home of Mr. and Mrs. Sam BAKER burned, causing the next house, that of Mr. and Mrs. Alvin COATS to catch fire. From that, the Methodist Church and parsonage caught. The pews, pulpit furniture and other furnishings were saved from the church. A good part of the parsonage furniture was also saved. The insurance on both buildings was $2200.00. This was used in the rebuilding of the church.
On the Sunday after the fire, the congregation met for services in the old Opera House which was above what was once Radfordís Grocery, then Blandís Grocery. This building, located at Front and East Main St., has since been torn down. The meeting of the congregation and the sermon by Bro. ARMSTRONG was long to be remembered. At this time a large sum of money was raised for the rebuilding of the church. Later, until the new church was completed, the congregation worshiped in the Coats building, now occupied by the City Florist.
The Building Committee for the new church consisted of the pastor, W.W. Armstrong, Chariman, D.E. Brock, Secretary and Treasurer, Thomas Allen, E.W. Jeter, J.R. Fawlkes and Roger Brasfield. Ruben A. Heavner, of Jackson, was employed to draw plans for the new church. He did so, building the church on a smaller, but similar plan to that of the Union City Methodist Church.
The church was finished in plenty of time to entertain the Annual conference of 1909..... The church was dedicated at the Conference of 1909 by Bishop E.R. Hendrix. When the church parsonage burned, many of the members felt greatly discouraged, but it is doubtful that the membership could, at any time have built as easy as it did in 1909. The church had never been stronger than it was then.
CONTINUED LIFE AND GROWTH
From the years 1887 to 1909, there was a great deal of fine timber to be had around Greenfield and the sawmills and the Box Factory, employed many men and bought and sold a lot of timber. For the next ten years, we find a somewhat different story. The timber business had slackened and the Box Factory was changing hands and going out of business.
The difficulties of the church for the next ten years was a reflection of the conditions that every business and person in Greenfield was experiencing. Many of the best members of the church had to leave Greenfield to find jobs.
The Conference, which Greenfield had so royally entertained in 1909, moved Bro. ARMSTRONG and sent Bro. J.W. WATERS, who labored faithfully for one year and received sixteen members into the church.
In the late fall of 1910, Bro. C.H. HILLIARD was sent to Greenfield. He received thirteen members into the church. Only $750.00 was paid to the pastor that year. The Epworth Leagues were discontinued and Sunday School attendance fell off.
The Conference, of 1911, sent Bro. E. H. STEWARD as the pastor. Progress was made toward paying off the church debt. A revival was held, which resulted in thirty conversions, though only fifteen joined the church during the year....
During the ministry of Bro. R. B. FREEMAN, a decided improvement was made in the church. The Epworth league was reorganized, and in 1914, a great revival was held at Brockís Chapel which resulted in fifty-six joining the church. The matter of a parsonage was beginning to take form and the collection for the Benevolent Interests of the church was greatly improved. Rev. S.M. GRIFFIN was appointed to the Charge for the years 1915 and 1916. It was at this time that the parsonage was bought and almost paid for. The church debt was also paid. Bro. GRIFFIN worked faithfully with the young people as well as the adults to bring the church up to what it should be. For the next two years, Bro. Ben T. FUZZELL was the pastor. The church seemed to be in a more stable condition than at any time since 1910.
In 1919, Bro. W.G. NALL was sent to Greenfield and Brockís for two years.....
With the coming of Bro. J. W. CARNELL to the Charge, in the fall of 1920, a new life, joy and power was found in the whole church. The Epworth League was again organized and good crowds were in constant attendance for the services of the church. On one Sunday, 170 people attended Sunday School. During the first year, Bro. CARNELL received eighty-two into the membership of Greenfield and Brockís Chapel. Bro. Carnell also had a boy scout troupe of fifty members. He gave a lot of attention to the children and young people.
Bro. O.C. WRATHER served the Charge during 1924. As was always the case with Bro. WRATHER, he did his work in a quiet but efficient manner.
The Conference of 1924 sent to Greenfielcl Bra. E.P. McDaniel who had a most successful year. The Church was greatly disappointed when Bro. McDaniel moved at the end of his first year.
Bro. T.C. MCKELY was the next pastor sent to the Greenfield Charge in 1925. At the close of his first year, Greenfield had a membership of 176 and Brookís Chapel had 91. The Womanís Missionary Society was extremely active under the leadership of Mrs. MCKELVY.
The Annual Conference of 1926 sent Bro. A.G. MELTON to the Greenfield Charge. He was to stay for the full four years. Bro. Melton re-organized the Epworth League which had not been functioning for several years.
The Conference of 1930, sent Bro. K.G. DUNN for two years. Bro. DUNN was known all over the Conference as one of the strongest preachers they had. It was in these years of 1931-32 that the Depression was at its hardest. If the financial condition had not been as it was, most likely his ministry would have been one of the best in the history of the Church. He received twenty-four members into the Church.
Both banks in town had to close or re-organize and the people were very discouraged. Because of the awful financial conditions, the leaders of the Church thought it best to form double station with either Sharon or Bradford. This attempt at a double station was not sucessful. Others realized conditions of 1932 would not last long.
In the fall of 1932 Bro. Wayne A. LAMB and his wife came to minister to the needs of the Church. He would be the third pastor to serve the Greenfield Methodist Church for the full four years. Bro. LAMB received 113 members into the Church during his four years. Every department of the Church received renewed strength as a result of Bro. LAMBís dedication and hard work.
Practically no repairs had been done to the Church building since it was built. During Bro. LAMBís ministry, a furnace was installed, a new roof covered the church and the interior redecorated.
Bro. B.J. RUSSELL was sent to Greenfield in the fall of 1936. While here, their son died. Because of the severe weather during the winter, they were not able to do the work they would have liked. Bro. RUSSELL retired after serving Greenfield for one year.
The Conference, of 1937, appointed Rev. James T. WALKER to Greenfield. The Epworth League was again organized, Sunday School and church attendance was up. The financial situation was in good condition and over twenty-five people joined the church during Bro. WALKERís ministry.
No reason was given for not having a fiftieth anniversary celebration, but a fifty-first was held Oct. 30, 1938. According to an old bulletin, this celebration was attended by many people. One being former pastor, W.W. ARMSTRONG, who gave the morning sermon. Former pastor, C.D. HILLIARD, sent his best wishes for the celebration.
A musical program, held that night, listed
many singers. among those listed was a quartet of LAMBUTH COLLEGE STUDENTS.
Duets were sung by may HOLLADAY and Barney HUMMEL; Earl J. SULLIVAN and
G. W. TUCKER; Mary Alice RACHEL and George HARRIS. Vocal solos were
sung by Rev. W.T. BARNES and Bob FERGUSON. Although no names were given
as to who they were, the "Greenfield Quartet" was also listed. Mrs. Mamrnon
DESHONG was the pianist.
In 1939, the Methodist Protestant Church, along with the Methodist Episcopal Church, merged with the Methodist Episcopal Church, South to become The Methodist Church. The war between the North and South, in the Methodist Church at least, had at last been forgotten.
The Annual Conference, of 1939, sent to Greenfield one of the most loved ministers to ever serve the Charge. Bro. W.T. BARNES and his wife Frances did their utmost for the spiritual life of the church. They worked faithfully with the young people of the Epworth League. Bro. Barnes served the Charge longer than any pastor in the history of the church.
No records exists as to the next four pastors, except to say who they were and the years served. These were, T.S. RIDDICK, 1946-47; W.C. MOORE, 1947-48; E.C. MCCASHIN, 1948-49; Vernon C. BANKS, 1949-50.
In 1948, Mrs. Lyndell HARRIS presented an electric
Hammond Organ to the church in memory of her father, G,J. BRASFIELD, one
of the forefathers of our church, and her son George D. HARRIS. Bro.
T.C. Brown came to Greenfield in June, 1950. There was no carpet in the
sanctuary at this time, only runners. A carpet was laid in 1951........
TRAGEDY and BLESSINGS
Christmas Day night, 1977, proved to be both a tragedy and, in a way, a blessing for the members of the Greenfield Church. A tragedy that the sixty-eight year old church burned to the ground and a blessing that it pulled the members together in a way they had never been before......
The fixtures, such as pews, windows, pulpit, pianos, alters, etc., have been donated by the members. Some of these were donated in memory or in honor of members of their family.........
During the two and one-half years they were without a church home, the members met and worshipped at the Greenfield High School......
The Consecration Services were held May 18, 1980, at 11100 A.M. Bishop Earl G. HUNT, Jr. and District Superintendent, Dr. Frank BULLE attended and helped Bro. CARPENTER in conducting the services.
Note: The above are extracts from the original document....MaryCarol 2002
Life and Times of Greenfield
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