Main Street United Methodist Church Celebrates 175 Years, Chapter Four
Missions, Ministry and Fellowship
Women’s Missionary Society/United Methodist Women
The Women’s Missionary Society, the ancestor of the United Methodist Women, was organized at Main Street United Methodist Church in 1912 with forty-six founding members. Reverend J. Sidney Peters (1911-1913) was the pastor of Main Street at this time. Mrs. EM Parker was elected as the first President of this organization. “In twenty-five years, Mrs. Parker and Mrs. CS Powell were the only presidents.” 1940 saw the rest of this group, as they became the Women’s Society of Christian Service. Mrs. EE Eanes was the first president under the new name. Members were organized into eight circles, each named after a missionary, with the exception of the Margaret Parker Circle, which was still active until recently. 1973 saw this group renamed again as United Methodist Women. This took place following another merger of churches which took place in 1968, during the Uniting Conference when the United Brethren Evangelical Church and the Methodist Church merged and became the United Methodist Church . Although still successfully active, these ladies reorganized to call themselves United Women of Faith. They continue to be recognized for their outstanding mission support.
Methodist Men / United Methodist Men
Methodist men formally organized in 1954 under the leadership of Reverend Harris Kessler’s clergy (1956-1957). This group became United Methodist Men following the aforementioned Uniting Conference in 1968. United Methodist Men, after a brief hiatus, was recreated in 2004 under the leadership of Rev. David A. Holbert (2000-2005). The men’s group stays strong and active by meeting once a month throughout the year and hosting an annual pancake supper to help fund missionary projects in the community, state, nation and in the whole world.
United Methodist Youth Fellowship (UMYF)
The Reverend James John, appointed to Main Street, (1961-1966). Has worked extensively with young people, not only among church members, but also with young people in the community in general. He helped organize a Youth Council. The youth group was officially named the United Methodist Church Youth Fellowship or UMYF as it was frequently called. In a renewal effort to care for and with our youth, Gloria and Will Robinson, have become youth leaders, working diligently with our youth, rekindling the UMYF spirit. As a group, they went on several mission trips and helped coordinate Backpack Buddies to provide after-school meals and snacks to children in the school system.
Main Street’s Global Mission
In the one hundred and seventy-five years of continuous ministry by the many who have worshiped and served here, there have been two missionaries and three pastors sent into full-time Christian service. Ella Yarrell, a native of Greensville County, served as a missionary in Brazil in 1899. Margaret Light, daughter of the Reverend and Mrs. JH Light (1916-1918), became a missionary in Cuba. Those who became pastors are Donald O. Collins, George M. Pearson, Jr., and Meadie A. Taylor, III.
A former pastor and his wife have retired and made their home here in Emporia. Reverends Carl and Caroline Manear (1981-1984), both now deceased, have blessed this church and this community with their presence and participation.
Reverend Stephen Butler (1991-1997) helped guide the church in missionary work by helping the church become more directly involved with Habitat for Humanity and with the Russian Initiative Missions Project, l church becoming the host church for Russian children.
Member, C. Jay Osburn, Jr. under the pastorate of Reverend Tom Durrance (2016-2022), started the Community Meals Program to provide food and fellowship to those in need. Every fourth Sunday of the month, volunteers from the congregation come together to prepare a hot, fresh meal to feed those who wish to come. During the COVID pandemic, meals were provided through drive-thrus. “AND ARE WE STILL ALIVE?” –Charles Wesley
There’s more to come! This is the fourth installment of several in recognition of the 175e Main Street United Methodist Church Anniversary Celebration, 500 South Main Street, Emporia. The celebration will culminate with an exciting worship service on Sunday, October 9, 2022 with special music and historical exhibits and presentations. A potluck meal will be served on the lawn. Please make plans to join in the celebration, catch up with old friends and welcome new ones! If you have any history items related to Main Street United Methodist Church (wedding photos, Sunday School or Bible Zone memorabilia, hymns, Bibles, items or other memorabilia and would like them share, please contact the church at 434.634.3724). Grace and peace!
Parts of the story above are based on the story compiled by Jane Prince for the sesquicentennial celebration.