SERVICES & SERMONS
BECOME A PART OF A FAMILY
Stinchcomb Methodist Church was one of the first churches in this section of the state. On Dec. 30, 1794, Middleton Wood granted to Absalom Stinchcomb, John Gatewood and John Ham, the "privilege to erect a meeting house on his land on waters of Dove Creek". The first building was a log structure. By 1850's the church acquired surrounding property. The present building has been in continuous use for over 100 years. The sills are handhewn, 14 inched square. Among the old graves in the churchyard cemetery is that of Dionysius Oliver, Revolutionary soldier.
Stinchcomb Metodist Church History
According to past histories written about Stinchcomb Church, Middleton Wood permitted Absalom Stinchcomb, John Gatewood and John Ham the privilege to erect a Meeting House on his land on waters of Dove’s Creek. Then in May 1804, he deeded to Sarah Lowrymore land on Dove’s Creek except one acre of land including the Methodist Meeting House and spring which is set apart for their use so long as they may think proper to continue it as a house of divine service and no longer. Though the written accounts of Stinchcomb United Methodist Church indicate that it was established from a bush arbor meeting in 1794, located one mile from Dewy Rose, and named for Absalom Stinchcomb, there is no legal record that has been found to verify the nature of Stinchcomb’ relationship with the church or with Oliver’s Chapel, as this society was called by Francis Asbury in 1801.
Even though no written documents have been found to prove the beginning of the church; in 1894, The Elberton Star printed a photograph of the church and the members, the caption beneath the photo stated the church was celebrating its 100th anniversary. When cleaning and sorting the old original documents in the Probate Court in the mid 1990's, we found a document titled “A Sabbath School Report 1847", it listed several churches, one of them being Stinchcomb. It shows Stinchcomb having one Superintendent, four teachers and 14 scholars. Another document shows Joseph Sewell and Eppy Bond as leaders in Stinchcomb Church.
We often laugh about the fact it takes us a while to act on a decision here at Stinchcomb and we come about it honestly. In 1855, Henry W. Bond, the community’s blacksmith, who held the adjoining land under the Will of Sally Higginbotham, agreed to sell the Trustees 2.6 additional acres at a price to be fixed by three members of the church. A fair price of $10.00 was agreed upon but it was not until 1869 when the deed was delivered to the Trustees and Mr. Bond was paid the $10.00.
Many young men have left this community to serve in different wars, unfortunately some did not return. One of them, Pvt. M.G. Rousey, during the Civil War wrote to his wife, Melinda Emily Bond Rousey, to “tell cousin Eppy Bond to remember me in his prayers at Stinchcomb Church.”
Pvt. Rousey died of typhoid in Lynchburg, VA in 1863 and is buried in the cemetery here at Stinchcomb. The Bible used on the lectern in the pulpit area today was given in memory of Hugh Maxwell who served in World War 2 and died in France in 1944. The small chairs in the primary class were given by Jennie Lee Bond Webb Jordan, in memory of her 1st husband, Vernon Webb, who died in Korea in the early 1950's.
The present building we worship in today is one of the oldest in Elbert County, it was built in 1876 and in 1956, information to the Georgia Historical Commission by Rev. Jackson P. Speer, and verified by John W. Roberts and J. Homer Vaughn, said the sills of the building, supported by stone pillars, are hand hewn timbers, measuring 14 inches square. Two trees were used to make each sill. The joists are logs lying parallel on the large sills. The recessed, columned porch, with its floor at ground level, was used by the women of the congregation for shelter while dismounting from their horses during the days when people used this mode of transportation.
The church cemetery, which had more than 260 monuments, is always kept neat and clean. It contains many interesting monuments of various eras, including two markers for Revolutionary Soldiers, Dionysius Oliver and his son, Peter. These markers are near the entrance of the church. If you have time, take a walk through the cemetery, there are so many of the same families that were connected to the church years ago and are still connected to the church today. Back during the 1930's, the upper part of the cemetery, where the first driveway and the granite church marker are now located, was covered with brush, briars, and rocks. Mr. Josh Blackmon went before the church members and asked for permission to clear the land and plant corn. He also told them they could share in the corn once it was ready to be pulled. Permission was given, the land was cleared, the corn planted, and everyone benefitted from the crop. One of the best loved traditions at Stinchcomb Church is the Birthday Box, which is a miniature replica of the church, made by John W. Roberts. Each Sunday, members are invited to put their birthday money in the Birthday Box while the congregation sings a hymn. After singing the hymn, the congregation then sings Happy Birthday to the person that put money in the box.
When young, the members seem to enjoy depositing a penny for each year, but as they get older, they seem to think it was easier to deposit a dollar and let you guess their age. Back in the 1940's money from the birthday box was used to pay the electricity bill for the church and also to pay for Christmas decorations for the church. Now, I’m not trying to give away anyones age but the box was first used in July 1939 when Barbara Ann Rousey deposited 5 pennies for her 5th birthday. Her grandson, Mark Milner, visited the church in 1994 and put in 5 pennies for his 5th birthday too. Unfortunately, someone stole the birthday box in November 2004. Why, we’ll probably never know. M. Garland gave the church a wooden box to use as a birthday box and later in 2007 John Roberts, Jr. and his wife Mary Frances had a friend of theirs in Maryland make another replica of the church to use as a birthday box. Even though the original may not be here today; no one can take away the memory of each of us depositing money in the birthday box for our special day in years gone by. By the way, it’s there on the secretary’s table in case you would like to put your birthday money in while visiting with us today. Progress took a giant step in the 1950's, the church was underpinned at a cost of $135.00, gas heating was installed, renovation of the sanctuary and four classrooms were completed at a cost of $1100.00. Even tho the church had been in existence for more than 160 years, no wedding had taken place in the church until Barbara Ann Rousey married James M. Thomason in 1954. Since then, many brides have chosen Stinchcomb Church to be a part of that very special time in their life. Central air and heat were installed in the 1970's, but the old cardboard fans were kept and are still brought out for use today. They not only give a welcome breeze but they also bring to mind many warm memories of times past. Carpeting was installed in the sanctuary in 1980, carpet in the classrooms two years later, well house built in 1983, pew cushions and new windows were added in 1984, floor covering in the annex in 1984, hand railing for the front of the church in 1985, cabinets in the annex and carpet for the front steps in 1986 and again in 2002. The beautiful stained glass window located above the front doors was given in memory of Doris Lance Maxwell by her family and friends.
And to make sure everyone knew they were in the right church when they came here, Brantley and Vee McIntosh and sons, Brian and Aaron, donated and installed the large granite marker that holds the history of the church at the other driveway entrance. Many years ago, Sallie Lunsford Borders Seymour obtained a sign with the church history on it from the state of Georgia and it was placed in Goss at the intersection of Deep Creek Rd. and the Bowman Hwy. but it was stolen. The one we have now will be a lot harder to take and hopefully will discourage any theft. In the year 2000, the members decided to have a steeple with church chimes installed. The chimes are played twice on Sunday, once right before 10 a.m. to let you know it’s time for Sunday School and then at noontime to remind the preacher what time it is. On a clear day, the chimes can be heard over a mile away. Believe it or not, we had to replace the roof in 2001, there was no decking on the roof, just wooden shingles nailed to small strips of wood, cedar posts were used to hold up the roof. We don’t know when the roof was put on but we do know since there were wooden shingles, it had to be a very long time ago. In June 2003, the Bishop appointed one of our own members, John Sexton as our pastor and for the very first time the church now has a full time/part time local pastor. In 2004 the outside of the church was painted and work was begun in remodeling a classroom to be used for a children’s class and also be the church library. Will Driver, who grew up in this area and is also a gifted craftsman, was chosen to do the work. The room was completed in 2005 and is beautiful. Will wanted to try and match the old pine wood that was already in the classroom and he did this by using wood, as trim on the cabinets, from the kitchen floor of the Lucy Cobb house, ca 1861, which was located in Athens, Clarke Co. GA and also wood from the early 1900's that Susan Anderson Lunsford donated. This was wood that her father, Martin Anderson, kept when he tore down an old store that was located in the Rock Branch area. You can tell by the beautiful job done by Will that he truly loves working with wood and we appreciate him taking time to do this special project for us. We also appreciate Susan stepping forward and donating wood to be used. Somehow, bringing old wood, to an old church, for a new project, just seems like the thing to do.
I’ve already told you how it takes us awhile to get things done here at Stinchcomb but recently we accomplished something we’ve been wanting to have done for many years ---- we had the church cemetery surveyed and every grave has been noted on the plat and we have a typed list of names and locations of each grave to help in locating grave sites.
Also, a wonderful, dear friend of ours and others, compiled a cemetery book of all Elbert County church cemeteries and we’re proud to say Stinchcomb Church is on its cover. A new frost-free refrigerator for the annex was donated in 2007 and in 2008, two new bathrooms were installed on the same level as the sanctuary. To spruce up the church annex area for the 2009 homecoming, new linoleum was installed by Hover Carpet in the annex bathrooms and a beautiful new wooden railing was put in front of the choir area by Richard Brady. In 2013, we had the church painted again, had new gutters with gutter guards installed and new brick steps with railings replaced old steps to side entrance of church. 2015 found us making changes in the annex area again; we finally changed the original two prong electrical plugs to three prong and we also replaced the two original doors. No longer do we need electrical adapters nor do we have to put a chair against the door to keep it closed.
In addition to offering financial support to those in the local community when in need, members continue to support four needy organizations every year by sending $250.00 to each one during the year. This is a project they selected to do several years ago and are very pleased they have been able to continue. Since their church does not have an annex or kitchen several years ago ladies from Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church asked if we would join them in preparing a sack lunch twice a year for Our Daily Bread in Athens. Of course we jumped at the chance to help because this was a project that our elderly members could manage. A wonderful relationship is now shared by the two churches because of this project and we look forward to sharing a day of fellowship and work together. We want people to know that even though our membership is small, we firmly believe, with Gods’ help, we can and will accomplish any task. Stinchcomb Church has been richly blessed with fine ministers and their families, loyal members and friends who have enriched the life of the church and community in many ways. We are proud of the work that has been done in the past and we look forward to being a part of the future.
Information given by:
Susan R. Sexton and others