Church and Bible Records

History Of Irvington United Methodist Church

Irvington, Lancaster County, Virginia

(The following is a transcription of the church history that was written by Julia M. Lee for the Golden Jubilee Program of the 1939 Golden Jubilee of Irvington Methodist Church)

transcribed by Donna Hurst Helmuth


In the period following the War between the States, the people of this community, then known as Carter?s Creek, later named Irvington in honor of L.H. IRVING, one of the leading citizens, had to go elsewhere in worship [of] God. Those who held to the tenets of the Baptist faith went to ?Old Salem,? on the road from White Stone to Kilmarnock; the Methodists went to White Stone. They would either cross the creek in small boats or go up to the head of ?Old Mill Cove? and cross over the stream on a one-log bridge. Then they walked a good distance on the other side over roads, rough and muddy.


The population of our village began to increase rapidly in the early seventies, due to the abundance of fish and oysters found in the Rappahannock and its tributaries, and also due to a general shifting of population incident to and following the War.


Secular education was almost as far beyond the reach of the smaller children as church training, so the people began to plan for the education of their youth. In the year 1872 they secured the services of the REV. H. C. LONG, from Maryland, a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, who was to teach during the week and preach on Sunday ? all for the munificent sum of $800.00 a year.


From the estate of J. O. HAYDON was secured the land on which they built the old Chapel, above which was constructed later a ?Good Templar?s Hall,? the birth place of the temperance movement here. The hand made pews and pulpit of this Chapel were not the most beautiful, nor the most comfortable; but as a rule, public worship was well attended. Ever so often ministers from Old Morattico Baptist Church and Lancaster Methodist Church would fill the pulpit, among them the Reverends ANDREW BROADDUS, WAYLAND DUNAWAY, FRED CLAYBROOK, ALFRED WILES, HERBERT T. BACON, JUNUS B. DeBERRY and JAMES H. CROWN. If any unusual event were to take place, the men of the community cheerfully gave days of work in building a large brush arbor in front of the Chapel, where congregations sat for hours on rough benches without backs.


The congregation, composed largely of members of White Stone Church, grew rapidly, and the need for a larger place of worship was keenly felt. So, under the leadership of the LONGS, NEWBILLS, BUSSELLS, TURNERS, MASONS, HUNDLEYS, RILEES, MESSICKS, O. R. HOPKINS, IRVINGS, W. McD. LEE, BREWINGTONS, A. JAMES and others, plans were set on foot to build a Methodist Church. On February 21, 1887, R. M. SAUNDERS and JULIA E. SAUNDERS, his wife, conveyed the church lot, four acres and eight perches, for the sum of $210.00 to L.H. IRVING, WM. J. NEWBILL, JAMES N. BUSSELLS, GEORGE P. MESSICK, THOMAS RILEE and WM. H. C. LONG, Trustees for the Methodist Episcopal Church South.


There was organized a Ladies? Aid Society which had for its object the raising of funds to assist in the building and upkeep of the Church. Men as well as women were members, and young and old attended the monthly meetings. After the business sessions, there were social hours which became outstanding events of the Church.


By the Spring of 1889 enough funds had been raised to begin the work on the Church. It was originally planned to let the Church face the Kilmarnock road, and the work of excavation was begun. However, the plans were changed and the present setting was chosen. All the lumber was bought here on the sailing vessels by Captains WASH BUSSELLS and ANDREW POWELL, and was hauled from the wharf to the Church by Mr. GRIP DUNTON and a colored man, RICHARD HOLMES, now living here.


On May 27, 1889, the cornerstone was laid by the Masons, Judge SAMUEL DOWNING as Worshipful Master, presiding. He was assisted by our Presiding Elder, Dr. GEORGE H. RAY.


The work moved along somewhat slowly, and at one time it looked as though the building would not be near enough to completion in the Fall to meet the requirements for dedication. To make that goal the members strove all the harder, having lectures and other types of entertainments to raise the necessary funds.


The church was dedicated in the Fall of 1889 and at its session that year the Virginia Annual Conference separated from the Lancaster Circuit, to which we had belonged, the Churches of Carter?s Creek and White Stone, forming White Stone Circuit. The silver-tongued orator, the Rev. J. R. TILLERY, was the first Pastor of this Circuit. Shortly after the establishment of the Methodist Church here as a regular preaching appointment on the Circuit, the Baptists of the community organized themselves into a congregation, continuing to use the Old Chapel for their services, later erecting their own building across the street from the Methodist Church. For years, even until the present time, the Methodists and the Baptists have cooperated in all Christian activities, working coordinately rather than competitively.


Carter?s Creek was chosen for the home of the pastor of the Circuit, and the Charged rented a house in what is now known as West Irvington. Later the Charge bought the property now owned by Mr. JASPER JETT for use as a parsonage. The ladies of the Charge organized a Parsonage Society which had for its purpose the upkeep of the interior of the parsonage. The society met quarterly, and these meetings became red-letter days in the Church calendar-?all day sessions, and dinner such an important feature that the committees for serving were appointed three months in advance.


The Sunday School was organized in the beginning, with the Rev. W. H. C. LONG as Superintendent. The work of the School has been carried on through the half century under the superintendency of Mr. LONG, H. B. NOLLEY, O. R. HOPKINS, B. L. WILLING, and the present Superintendent, W. J. HAYNIE. The first Treasurer of the Church and Sunday School was J. W. HUNDLEY. As this was before the days of perfected organization, if the needs of the Church were pressing and funds were low, he would draw on the Sunday School funds for the deficit, and vice versa if the Sunday School funds were exhausted.


In the first year of the Church life the Woman?s Missonary Society was organized, with Mrs. J. E. WILSHIN as its President. Until 1937 there were only two other presidents, Mrs. ANNE E. NEWBILL and Mrs. SALLIE E. JAMES. In 1937, Mrs. RACHEL M. BUCHAN was elected president, serving one year and was succeeded by Mrs. PAULINE L. HAYNIE, the incumbent. Shortly after the formation of the Missionary Society for the woman, a Rosebud Missionary Society was organized.


In September of 1889 the Chesapeake Academy began its work, holding its first session in the Old Chapel and Good Templar?s Hall. Our Church was greatly helped through the years by teachers from this school, such as Mr. and Mrs. H. B. NOLLEY, Mr. and Mrs. S. P. LATANE, Mr. CARROLL VADEN, Miss RUTH VADEN, Mr. F. G. NEWBILL, Mr. and Mrs. D. R. ANDERSON, and others. Especially do we owe a great debt to the music department of that school for its share in making our Church Choir so efficient that its excellent singing was known throughout the Northern Neck.


During the infancy of our Church there was a revival, unique, almost Pentacostal. It began in a prayer meeting led by several members of the Church, in which there were several conversions. The people were deeply moved, and decided then and there to continue the services. The influence of this protracted meeting was felt throughout our community and in the surrounding villages.


We grew in every way under the ministry of the deep thinker, the Rev. JOHN T. PAYNE, who, when he pointed a finger and said ?Just another thought!? had really another thought for his listeners. His stay was saddened by the death of his oldest son and namesake. In August, Mr. Payne resigned and the rest of that Conference year we were served by the Rev. M. S. COLONNA, JR.


The next four years we had with us our beloved Rev. J. W. S. ROBINS, who later came to us a second time. It was during Mr. Robins? pastorate that the Irish Evangelist Lee set fire to the torch of Local Option in Lancaster County. RAY ROBINS, the only son of the Pastor, died here.


Then followed a four-year term under the logic and reasoning of the Rev. C. R. JAMES. Members of his family today refute the oft quoted slander about parsonage children. ALFRED JAMES and ARTHUR JAMES are not names to make a parsonage ashamed.


The Christian gentlemen, the Rev. J. M. ANDERSON, came in 1902. For some while there had been on foot a movement to build a new parsonage in the oak grove of the Church yard. In 1903 we completed our pretty parsonage, designed by Mr. W. McD LEE, and Mr. Anderson?s family moved in. He had often been heard to say ?I?d rather wear out than rust out,? which wish was not denied him, for he laid down his work at the close of a full Sunday in February of 1906.


During Mr. Anderson?s pastorate two Missions were established. Anderson Chapel was built near Weems and Moran Chapel was established in the Taylor?s Creek community. Mr. J. W. HAYDON served both these Missions as Sunday School Superintendent. Moran Chapel is now occupied by the congregation of Wesley Presbyterian Church and Anderson Chapel was long since sold.


After the death of Mr. Anderson, the Rev. JAMES RIDDICK LAUGHTON served as Pastor from May of 1906 until the meeting of the Annual Conference of that year. Mr. Laughton then showed promise of becoming one of the most scholarly men of the Conference, which promise has been more than fulfilled in his later ministry.


From 1906 ? 1908 the Rev. E. F. GARNER pleasingly filled our pulpit and had large congregations to listen to him. During that time our finances seem to have been good, as the Parsonage Society reported a surplus of $20.00 in the Treasury, and no needs for supplies in the parsonage except cretonne for a curtain.

Quite a change was made in the interior of the Church during the Pastorate of the kindly and genial spirit, the Rev. JOHN D. HOSIER. The pulpit was extended to form the choir loft, the present metal ceiling was put up, walls were tinted and decorated, frosted windows were replaced by stained glass, a new carpet was laid, and pews were rearranged to provide a large center aisle, which provided a better arrangement for funerals and weddings.


In the Fall of 1916, during the second Pastorate of the Rev. J. W. S. ROBINS, the Conference rearranged the District, placing Irvington Church with Kilmarnock. During this year, Mr. Robins was in poor health, and the pulpit was supplied at frequent intervals by several other ministers, notably among them was the Rev. L. C. Smart. The newly formed Circuit was served for one year by the Rev. FRANK McLEAN being followed by the Rev. W. Y. SCALES. Mr. Scales received into the Church one of the largest classes of young people on record. The history of Methodism was featured in a program under his direction.


In 1919 Irving Church was made a station. Our first Pastor was the Rev. GEORGE H. McFADEN, who gave up his loved work as head of the Masonic Orphanage to come to us. It was in that year that Anderson Chapel was sold. The present organ in the Church was purchased and installed during his pastorate.


The Sunday School reached its high water mark in the years when the Rev. WALTER C. GUM was with us. At one time there was an enrollment of 250. Our records show that, with an enrollment of 220, we were having an average attendance of 195. Mr. Gum?s spirituality and marked ability caused him to be called to larger fields of service after two years here.


The outstanding monument to the work of the Rev. J. U. EDWARDS and his wife, a trained teacher, was the beginning of the grading of the Sunday School, which work was not completed because of his failing health. During Mr. Edwards? pastorate, Mr. HOLLAND R. WILKINSON assisted in two revivals. Due to the illness of Mr. Edwards during his last year, the pulpit was filled by visiting pastors, Dr. T. F. Carroll assisting frequently.


The unfinished work of Sunday School organization was taken up and developed by the Rev. WM. R. REED, who served from 1926 to 1928. At this time the Church reached its highest financial peak. Over $1,000 was spent on the Church, shutting off the wings with folding doors, separating the vestibule from the body of the Church, installing electric lights, replacing side walls with the present metal walls, and painting inside and outside. Nearly as much was spent on the parsonage. Out total collections in 1927 reached nearly the $7,000 mark.


The Rev. S. A. DONAHOE, afterward, Dr. Donahoe, by the beauty of his sermons and his wonderful oratory, filled the Church pews for two years. The Sunday School organization was being pushed, and in 1928 there were seven (7) organized classes.


The Rev. E. K ODELL, ably assisted by his consecrated wife, wrought well, keeping his finger tips on the pulse of every phase of the work. Our children and young people were their special interests. They re-organized the Epworth League, and under Mrs. Odell?s wise direction, the young people did excellent work.


In the summer of 1934, we had a Home Coming Day which was a great success. The speaker of this morning was the Rev. WALLACE R. EVANS, who was sent to us by the Bishop at the next session of the Annual Conference. Both he and his wife kept in touch with all the work, and their busy days were spent for the Church. He worked hard in trying to perfect the Church School organization, took very active part in the Daily Vacation Bible School in connection with the Baptist Sunday School, and the Training School in which we had been participating every year since Mr. Reed was with us. In 1934 we made a religious survey of the community.


Our last year as a station church was under the leadership of the Rev. JAMES RIDDICK LAUGHTON, who was appointed to us for the second time in 1936. The Annual Conference of 1937 again made us a part of Lancaster Circuit, joining us with White Marsh, Bethel and Emmanuel Churches.


The Rev. B. B. BLAND came in 1937 and at once began a campaign for the youth of the town. The Junior Choir is a monument to his talented wife. His Holy Week services were outstanding. We were very glad to be able to send him to Conference with our share of the finances fully paid up, something we had failed to do for several years previous.


In 1938 we started out again under new leadership. Much has been done toward perfecting the Church organizations, big things are planned for the on-going of the Kingdom, by this tireless, devoted leader, the Rev. ALLEN J. CARTER.


Our Church through the years has been served by the following organists: Mrs. W. J. NEWBILL, Mrs. PEARL RILEE CLEMENTS, Mrs. CHARLES L. SMITH and Mrs. OLIVE WHITE MESSICK.


The Rev. Dr. LOVICK P. LAW, General Evangelist of the Methodist Church, and Prof. F. J. BALMOND, Evangelist-Singer, have been recent valued additions to the Church.


This is indeed a goodly heritage. ?Seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses,? we dare not fail to take up the torch and go on from victory to greater victory, till the last stronghold of the enemy is taken. The obstacles overcome, the victories won in this half century are a challenge to us. ?There is still the Man on the Cross?.


?Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or even thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.?







Pastors of the church at the time of the Golden Jubilee of Irvington Methodist Church, Lancaster County, Virginia 1889-1939. Asterisks indicated pastors were deceased at time of Golden anniversary.


J. R. Tillery*

John T. Payne*

M.S. Colonna, Jr.*

J.W.S. Robins*



James Riddick Laughton

E. F. Garner*

John D. Hosier

Frank McLean

W. Y. Scales

George H. McFaden*

Walter C. Gum

J.U. Edwards

Wm. R. Reed

S. A. Donahoe*

E. K. Odell

Wallace R. Evans

Benjamin B. Bland

Allen J. Carter


Officiary presiding at Golden Jubilee


The Rev. William Walter Peele, DD., Presiding Bishop

The Rev. C. Fred Williams, Presiding Elder

The Rev. Allen J. Carter, Pastor

Dr. Lee S. Liggan, Chairman of the Board of Stewards

William J. Haynie, Superintendent, Church School

Mrs. Julia M. Lee, Chairman, Board of Education

Mrs. Pauline L. Haynie, President of the Woman?s Missionary Society

Mrs. Olive White Messick, Church Organist


Jubilee Committee

Dr. Lee S. Liggan, General Chairman

The Rev. Allen J. Carter, Pastor

Mrs. Julia M. Lee--Church History

Mrs. Hill Fleet?Founders? Day Memorial Service

William J. Haynie?Home Coming Day

Mrs. Rachel M. Buchan ? Publicity

Mrs. Lee S. Liggan ? Historical Pageant

Mrs. Pauline L. Haynie?Music

William D. Long ? Properties

Mrs. Mattie Jett ? Meals

Mrs. Julia M. Lee ? Floral Decorations


Ministers preaching Jubilee Weeks

Rev. Wm. R. Reed

Rev. Lovick P. Law DD

Rev. James Riddick Laughton

Rev. Wallace R. Evans

Rev. Walter C. Gum

Bishop W. W. Peele

Rev. C. Fred Williams

Rev. B. B. Bland





Lancaster County, Virginia