Photography by John DeMajo

The history of Lebanon United Methodist Church
(Est. 1842)
Notes taken from A History of Lebanon United Methodist Church 1942-2006,
compiled by Nora T. Short (thru 1992) and Mary Lou Pennell (1992-present)

Methodism, as a religious movement, started in London, England, in 1739 with the evangelical preaching of John Wesley. In the time between 1760 and 1765, Methodism found its way to America through immigrants and British soldiers. It took root in Maryland first,, and later in New York City, The movement reached Virginia in 1772 with Robert Williams preaching in Norfolk and Portsmouth. In 1773, a conference of missionaries met in Philadelphia, the first held in America. Two of the ten lay preachers were appointed to Virginia where there were now 100 members.

Hanover Circuit is first mentioned in records of Methodism in 1775. The writings of Mr. Philip Gatch, one of the original preachers, indicate that his circuit was Hanover. We do not know when the Methodists of Lebanon were organized as a "Society" probably in the early 19th Century. We do know that as far back as 1828, regular meetings were held in Slash Church which was a Church of England property, and which became independent with the country's independence from England.

In the year 1842, one of the original trustees, Joseph S. Wingfield, wrote that "we thought it best to have a church of our own; so I went to see Samuel LaMay who has a place that I thought would suit us for a church. After finalizing the details of the transaction with Mr. LaMay, Wingfield purchased 1.5 acres of property, which included a shop that was on the property, for the sum of $15.00. On the 4th day of October, LaMay and John C. Brock stepped the property off and marked it.

In 1844, still within the lifetime of LaMay, the church was dedicated. Some plastering and gallery work was still remaining, and the building was not actually completed until 1849.. LaMay constructed a pond which was to serve as a place to water horses. Upon LaMay's death, Mr. H. Tignor who had become the owner of LaMay's farm, claimed ownership of one-half of the church.

The dispute with Tignor carried on even after members of the church, who were involved in the original land transfer, pointed out to all that the church's land boundaries were misinterpreted by Mr. Tignor. Tignor continued the dispute by erecting a fence and by removing the survey marks. In 1851, a fire destroyed the church. Even in the absence of a building, Tignor continued to encroach on church land.

After the fire, the members of Lebanon met in a brush arbor which was provided for shelter. The present building (now chapel) was opened in 1860, although it was not fully completed until 1881-1882. It was erected by Mr. George Wesley King under the pastorate of Rev. R. N. Crooks.

In 1876, Rev. S. H. Johnson wrote that the house was as yet unfinished, and that hogs were using the structure as a shelter. There were fleas to contend with, and the pews were hard and unfinished. The room was divided by strips nailed to the tops of the pews, thereby separating the room into separate sections for ladies and girls, and men and boys.

In 1876, Lebanon had no musical instrument. Shortly after 1876, an organ was installed, and Miss Amanda Felix Cross was appointed organist. She later married the Rev. J. B. Latham, D.D. who was minister through at least the year 1936. In 1932, Mr. Boxley Vaughan donated a piano.

In 1876, a church cemetery was established.

The following milestones indicate the progress of the church through the 20th Century:

1918 - Young People's Missionary Society organized by Mrs. Norvell Cross Smith.

1927- Members met to paint and repair the church, clear the grounds.

1940- Electricity was installed.

1942- The church celebrated its Centennial. Bishop W.W. Peele preached along with District Superintendent Rev. T.F. Carroll D.D.

1951 The church purchased a new organ.

1951- The baptismal bowl was given by Mae Norment Brooks in memory of her sons.

1956- Homecoming Day. New Sunday School building was dedicated and a new communion set was given by Mr. and Mrs. A. B. Cross, Jr. in memory of Atwill B. Cross, Sr. and in honor of Cammie D. Cross.

1959- New church drive was built and grounds were landscaped.

1966- Lebanon is made a station church. A parsonage was constructed.

1967- Church's 125th Anniversary was celebrated.

Note: In 1968, the merger of churches occurred to form The United Methodist Church.

1969- Sunday School building painted and large cross in Sanctuary donated by Tignor family in memory of John Robert Tignor.

1977- A new Baldwin piano was purchased for the Sanctuary

1990 New piano donated by Mrs. Vivian Lowry.

1992- Youth Center created

1992 – New Rodgers Cambridge 730 organ donated in honor of Everett H. Smith, Sr.

1995- DePew property purchased for $140,000.

2000- Church receives a $500,000 bequest from Samuel and Vivian Lowey estate.

2001- New church construction undertaken. ( Sanctuary, offices, choir room, library, and children’s classrooms).

2007 – New Boston grand piano donated for the Sanctuary