Our History

Below is the history recorded in one of our older directories: The Centennial Edition 1876-1976.


One hundred years ago, Fulton Hall gave the ground for the old log school and church at Cedar Grove near where the present school stands. The old building was erected in 1876. Mr. Johnathon Clayman, father of Mrs. Stacie Clayman Gray and grandfather of Katherine Depew and Kenneth Perry, cut the first logs that went into the old building.

In talking to several of the older people who went to church and school in the long building, Nellie Poole remembers a Lelah Hunt, a teacher, and a Rev. F. Alexander, who preached there. Mrs. Georgia Myers remembers a Byrd Harkleroad, who taught school there. Nellie Ketron remembers all of these and Oma Spears, Maggie Smith, Lola Poore, Aubry Childress and a Mr. Harr.

Ethel and Jo Clayman, sisters to Stacey Gray of our church, also taught school there. Howard Thompson and Clara Newland remember the old school and church. A frame school building replaced the old log school in 1907. Mr. Howard Thompson remembers E. L. McConnell, a Methodist Episcopal Church South preacher. Other pastors remembered are T. D. Rowe, Fred Watson, H. W. McKinzie, William S. Brandy, G. S. Henley, J. P. Little, Sam Ketron, Sullins Dosser and L. B. Leonard. Some of these pastors were Methodist Episcopal Church South. The only Sunday School superintendent of the frame church at Cedar Grove remembered is Mr. Tom Coley, and the trustees were S. P. Lesslie, Tom Coley and Marshal Ketron. Rev. I. B. Leonard , the last pastor at the white frame Cedar Grove School building, started the new church at Vermont. Ground for the white frame church called VERMONT was broken in August 1914. Dr. and Mrs. A. D. Miller and Rev. Sam Ketron and wife gave the land for the church and the old section of the cemetery. Rev. S. G. Ketron was the first district superintendent and Rev. A. T. Henderson was the first bishop of this Church. Walter Coleman, father of Nellie Ketron, was the first Sunday School superintendent. The church was dedicated in May, 1915. Rev. W. C. Winslow was the pastor at this time. Vermont was on the Kingsport Circuit with six other churches and was in the Johnson City District.

Other pastors, district superintendents and bishops of this church were:

     Pastors:   D. A. Howell, A. c. Ketron, Fred D. Watson, S. G. Ketron, S. N. Eblen, W. S. Bandy, J. W. Grace , W. H. Quarry, D. C. Slagle, E. G. Gillespie, Carroll Skeens, W. F. Ledford - all deceased. J. H. Meyers, Johm S. Deck, and T. H. House - still living. 

     Superintendents:   R. L. Stapleton, W. L. Oliver, E. O. Woodard, J. E. Milborn and W. E. Bishop.

     Bishops:   R. L. Stapleton, John S. Deck, and T. H. House - still living.

Sue Ellen Johnson, daughter of J. P. and Ada E. Johnson, was the first person to be buried in the old cemetery. She died October 9, 1915, at the age of two. Reverend Elbert Gordon Gillespie is the olny former pastor of Vermont buried in the Vermont Cemetery. Mr. John Q. Vicars, husband of Fannie Vicars, was the fist person buried in the new cemetery in 1928. The last funeral conduced in the white frame church was that of Mrs. Martha Meade, grandmother of Verna Miller, Audrey Willis and Otho Wolfe of Vermont.

McKinley Stuffle and his family cut and hauled the lumber that went into the first frame church at Vermont. Mr. Charles Thompson and Mrs. Clara (Thompson) Newland joined the church in 1915 and have been members longer than any others in our church. Mrs. Fannie Vicars was the president of the first Ladies Aid Society, organized in 1915. A girl of sixteen, Nellie Coleman, now Mrs. N. C. Ketron, joined the Ladies Aid, along with her mother, Mrs. Walter Coleman.

A new brick building was planned and started in 1940 by the pastor, Rev. Thomas H. House. The lot was purchased from Adwin and Bess Ketron for $500.00. In February 1941 ground was broken for the new church by the Rev. D. B. Cooper, district superintendent, T. H. House, pastor, and C. B. Miller. The corner stone was placed on May 25, 1941. The first funeral in this church was that of sixteen year old Jimmy Ketron, son of the late Russell Ketron, August 3, 1941, before the church was completed. Interment was in the old church cemetery.

The first worship service conducted in this building was in September 1941 by the pastor, Rev. T. H. House. The first wedding in the church was that of Kenneth Myers and Betty Pyle. The first pianist in the church was Bernelle Jenkins, and Sam Quillen was the choir director. Linda Hart Morris was our first organist. The first Sunday School superintendent was C. H. Thompson. Rev. Harold J. Davis came as pastor in the fall of 1941 and served six years until 1947. The district superintendent was E. D. Worley. The church became a station in 1946.

Rev. E. B. Randall, now deceased, was pastor of the church from 1947 to 1949. District superintendents at this time were E. E. Worley, C. P. Hardin and J. A. Bays. The New building was dedicated on Sunday, September 17, 1950, with Bishop Paul B. Kern bringing the dedicatory sermon. Reverend Frank C. Mason was the pastor, and Rev. Glen F. Lipse was the district superintendent. At this time the church was still in the Johnson City District.

In June 1953, the Kingsport District was formed. Rev. W. S. Steele was the first district superintendent. Rev, Frank C. Mason was pastor and Rev. Roy H. Short was bishop.

Rev. Dale C. Bittinger followed Rev. Mason and was pastor five years, 1954-58. During his ministry, he helped plan and build a new parsonage costing $60,000.00. He was the first pastor to live in the parsonage. In 1954, Mrs. Dale C. Bittinger, the pastor's wife, along with Mrs. Harvey Grace, then the president of the Woman's Society of Christian Service, organized a Wesleyan Service Guild, the Betty Epps Unit. Charter members were Charlene Clark, Rose Ella Prillhart and Barbara Lane. Charlene Clark was the first president of the Guild. In 1973, the Wesleyan Service guild and the Women's Society of Christian Service merged to become the United Methodist Women, The Eleanor Godsey Circle. Barbara Sanders was last president of the Guild.

On November 25, 1962, a ground breaking ceremony was held for a $122,000.00 addition to the present building, which included a new sanctuary, fellowship room, kitchen, nursery, several Sunday school rooms and a music room. Rev. Ogleva Street was the pastor at this time. Rev. Paul R. Dodd was the district superintendent and Rev. Roy A. Short was bishop. The first service, conducted by Rev. Ogleva Street, pastor, was held on March 8, 1964. "Bless This House, O Lord" was the first sing. The new church was served by the following people: Sunday School superintendent, C. B. Miller; head usher, Sam Quillen; choir director, Mrs. Carl Weaver; organist, Sammy Stuffle; pianists, Georgia Tunnell and Betty Botts; and church secretary, Thelma Marcum Smith. The first wedding held in the new sanctuary was that of Charles Parker and Linda Dishner. Michael Mellons, son of George and Mildred Mellons, was the first to profess his faith. The first ones to join the church were Michael Mellons, Harris and Linda Hurd. The first funeral was that of five year old Lisa Gail Jones, daughter of Henry and Alice Jones.

Rev. Keith Auvil was pastor for one year, 1964-1965. Rev. John R. Manney became pastor in 1965 and served until 1969. In 1968 the Methodist Church merged with the Evangelical Brethren Church and became The United Methodist Church. Harold C. Harris was district superintendent. H. Ellis Finger was the bishop during the years 1964-1968.

The church has sponsored Boyu Scouting since 1939. Barbara Ketron Lane became our church secretary in 1967. In 1969, Rev. Eugene Chafin became pastor and served until 1973. Rev. Lon Moneyhon was the district superintendent and Rev. L. Scott Allen was bishop from 1968 to 1976.

IN 1973 Rev. Dan Kelly was assigned as pastor. Our Women's Society of Cristian Service became the United Methodist Women with Ola Dell Hooker as the president. Rev. Robert L. Wilcox is the present district superintendent and H. Ellis Finger is the bishop, having been reassigned in 1976. Dorothy Conn is president of the United Methodist Women. David Thompson is president of the United Methodist Youth Fellowship.

Mrs. Hazel Gillespie Grace, Historian

September 1976