History of the Warsaw United Methodist Church
Excerpts from “A History of Warsaw United Methodist Church, Warsaw, Virginia 1837-1994”, researched and printed by the History Committee. Many thanks to Mrs. Constance Gallagher for sharing this document and the rich history with us.
The Warsaw United Methodist Church is the continuation of the congregational meetings of Methodists held at the Richmond Court House in Warsaw beginning as early as 1825.
The first reference to the establishment of a Methodist Church in Warsaw as a deed dated November 27, 1837 from Fereol Lemoine and Ann. The deed from Fereol and Ann Lemoine convey to the seven trustees a tract of land described as being “on the main road leading from Clark’s Run to Richmond County Court House” and having an area of two roods, four perches and 64/100 of a perch. The deed specifies that the trustees shall erect, build or cause to be erected or built thereon, a house of worship for the use of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, in the United States of America. There is definite evidence that a church was erected on this lot and was dedicated in 1874.
In the early history of Methodism there were Methodist Episcopal and Methodist Protestant churches. Many Methodist Protestant ministers became members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South in 1870 when the Virginia conference of the Methodist Protestant Church voted to disband and join the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The plaque on our front stoop indicates we were a Methodist Episcopal Church.
Very few records have been located for the period 1837 to 1856 but Sunday School records of 1856 show that meetings with preaching monthly were held. During this period 1867-1869, Sunday School was held in the morning and lasted until about 2:00 P.M. As there were no public schools at this time, the Sunday School played a significant role in the education of the youth.
From the time the church was established in 1837 until 1921, there were only two churches in Warsaw, the Methodist and Episcopal. Many Baptist families came to the Methodist Church and were members of the Methodist Sunday School until the Baptist Church was build in Warsaw in 1921. So in the early history of Warsaw, the Methodist Church played a very important role in the religious life of the community.
The history of our church would not be complete without mentioning “Camp Meeting Days” at Marvin Grove, the Methodist retreat near Farnham and Rainswood. The campground was founded in 1878 and until its destruction by fire in 1930 was the “vacation” home for Northern Neck Methodists during the month of August. Family members from our church lived in cottages (or “tents” as they were called) which were built in a horseshoe design around a huge tabernacle, where as many as 2000 would attend religious services during the day and night.
When the present church sanctuary was built it had two doors on the front, one side for men and the other for women. The church pews were also divided with a partition down the center. Couples would come to church together and part at the front door, the women sitting on one side and the men on the other. When the church was remodeled in 1953, the front was changed to having just one door The interior was also changed and the partition removed.
A Building Fund for the remodeling of the church had been started in 1950 while The Rev. H. C. Gregory was pastor and on December 13, 1953 ground was broken for the addition of Sunday School rooms and a pastor’s study. Only the outer shell of the present structure bears the resemblance of its former self.
During 1968 the Methodist and the United Brethren denominations were united and it was at that time the name of our church was changed to Warsaw United Methodist Church.
In 1979 construction was begun on the education building including fellowship hall, kitchen and classrooms. Contributions in the form of memorials were made for the fellowship hall and classrooms. Work on the steeple was begun in the spring of 1981 and completed that fall. In may of 1986, through the generosity of William B. Clopton, the balance of the debt on the steeple and education building was paid in full. Mr. Clopton also established the William B. Clopton Fund in May, 1991 with the understanding that only the interest and never the principal of the fund can be used.
The Work Continues
In 2017, a routine inspection discovered the original, hand-hewn beam supporting one side of the church was damaged. The Trustees hired a firm with considerable experience with historical building and the foundation on both the north and south sides of the sanctuary were totally re-done. The original beam was saved and was made into a beautiful table for our sanctuary.
Once construction was complete, a renovation campaign was begun on the interior of the sanctuary, classrooms, and office. Our "makeover" will continue and become an ongoing part of our church life.