In the Beginning: 1894-2012
Gideon Grove United Methodist Church literally began in a grove of trees on the land where it still stands today. Some members of Flat Rock Church who lived close to the location felt that God put the idea for a new church in their hearts. In 1894, Pastor TJ Ogburn began preaching amidst a tree grove–seems reminiscent of John Wesley (the founder of Methodism) preaching in fields!
The owners of the land, P.H. Angel and Lauren Pegram Angel, donated approximately one and a half acres to the church to be used as a place of Divine Worship in the Methodist Ministry. Mrs. Angel was a great great granddaughter of Gideon Pegram, who owned the land in the early 1800’s; therefore, the church was named Gideon Grove. When the members collected enough money, they erected a small frame building that was adequate for the membership size until 1922.
Gideon Grove UMC was and still is part of a circuit; a circuit preacher serves more than one church. In 1896, Gideon Grove became the eighth church in the Flat Rock Circuit with one pastor preaching sometime during the week at each church. A parsonage (house for the preacher) was originally bought in 1905 when the church was part of a four-point charge. A new parsonage was built in 1958, and the one we currently use was built in 1976 when the four-point charge was divided into two two-point charges. From 1976 to present, we have one “sister church,” Palestine UMC.
In 1923, a larger church was built. In 1958, the church was veneered with brick. In 1961, the fellowship hall was built. In 2004, members began planning for a building remodel, and in 2005, we had a Ground Breaking Service to kick off the new project. The remodel/addition was completed in January 2006.
Valley of the Shadow of Death: 2012-2015
On December 22, 2012–three days before Christmas–Gideon Grove UMC was attacked by an arsonist. The building was quickly engulfed by flames, and most of it was destroyed. On December 23rd and for the next two and a half years, Palestine UMC embraced the members of Gideon Grove UMC as we worshipped together.
In August 2014, a church conference was held to approve rebuilding plans, cost estimates, etc. The rebuilding of the church commenced soon after that. Osborne Company did a fantastic job, and they own the lovely image of the church on the homepage.
June 7, 2015 was the date of our first worship service in the finished building. The next week, we had our first Open Door Sunday, which took the place of Homecoming. Since then, we have Open Door Sunday the first Sunday of June every year to commemorate the first service in the new building. The building was dedicated and consecrated on June 27th.
Looking to the Future: 2015-Present
We made it through a trial by fire and see that God is great! Through our years without a building, we learned that the church is the people; the four walls are just a luxury! Because of the loyal disciples who make up the core of our church, we are back and better than ever. Rev. Wanda Lancaster has served us since 2004, and I thank God we had her during that time period because she helped us stay strong with her leadership and faith.
Information about the ways we help our community is available under Community Outreach. Information on our upcoming events is available under Upcoming Events. Information on how our members grow as Christians is available under Growing in the Grove.
Thanks for reading! God bless you.
[Written by Lily Pierce with help from Church Historian Carolyn Joyner.]