Last service held at Cooleemee Methodist
By KC Smith
On Dec. 29, 2019 the morning service at Cooleemee United Methodist Church was history in the making. Approximately 40 people attended, including the 10 devoted members.
Bill Campbell welcomed everyone with a solemn tone of voice. 1901 was a long time ago and for current members and others, the transition of change will take time.
Pastor Kevin Jasper, presiding paster of Cooleemee Methodist, pastor of Bethel Methodist and Woodleaf Methodist, delivered a message titled “Joseph’s Other Dreams.”
It was the last service at the church.
The decision to merge with Smith Grove United Methodist Church was necessary. With falling membership it was time to make some important decisions.
Pastor Daren Crotts of Smith Grove was nominated as district leadership of Yadkin Valley District Vitality Team, which is comprised of more than 150 churches.
The focus of discussion was to avoid a typical closing of the Methodist church but to somehow create a presence in Cooleemee by creating community engagement and more vital ministries in a community context.
The members could have dug their feet in deep and opposed the discussions but leaving a legacy was important, and what better way to honor founders of the church.
For about eight months, the fellowship hall was filled with ideas from the community about what needs the facility could accommodate, and a community survey was completed.
Smith Grove could have provided 10 members from their church to keep the church going but Crotts said that wouldn’t work. “The community has to grow it. We want to bring health and wholeness in the goodness of Christ and create followers and believers of Jesus and community.”
Due to the openness of the members while being bathed in prayer, the influence of the holy spirit devised great ideas for the future of the church.
Diane Everhardt Snipes, daughter of late Virginia Benson Everhardt, and Pat Gales Campbell, daughter of late Libby Benson Gales, are cousins, for their mothers were sisters.
Their grandfather, Sam Benson, was a carpenter and woodworker for Erwin Mills and he made the podium for the church.
Snipes’ father was Richard R. Everhardt and he had a wonderful bass tone in his singing and often delivered solos at services. The organ has his name including others engraved on a metal plaque.
Sue Eudy is the oldest member and Diane Snipes is the second oldest member. They both were crib babies in the church. Dot Cranford is actually the oldest member but moved out of town.
Bobbie Howard Black and the former Judy Howard donated the stone communion set in memory of Mrs. Gail Sheppard.
Anyone interested in speaking to pastor Jasper at 336-782-6947 or pastor Crotts at 336-909-1919 may do so by phone, over a cup of coffee or a visit to the church. Weddings, non-profits, churches needing locations for services, etc. are just a few opportunities.
This transition is in the making and much excitement is abound. A facility usage board has been created and will take one case at a time. A beneficial mission outpost with providing health and wholeness with easy access to the community is the focus.
The Rev. J.M. Downum started Cooleemee United Methodist Church in 1901, starting on Watt Street before moving to a hall over the J.N. Ledford Co.
In the fall of 1901, the Rev. J.B. Craven was assigned to be the first pastor, and construction began on the church building on the crest of the hill on Main Street. The first wooden structure stood for about 30 years, during which time it was remodeled twice. The present brick structure with a seating capacity of 350 was built on the same site in 1932 under the leadership of the Rev. George Clay at a cost of $15,000.
In 1982, Cooleemee and Hardison United Methodist churches became the Cooleemee-Hardison Charge.
In 1992, renovations were completed to the lower floor of the education building, and a Head Start daycare program for preschool children began full time.
In 1998, Sandra Martin became the first female pastor. In 1999, the Rev. Dennis Marshall and his wife Larue started a community ministry for children with the Kids Kamp and Mustard Seed Greenhouse Ministry.
In 2001, Hardison became a station church, so Cooleemee became independent with a part-time minister, the Rev. Perry Bradshaw, who remained until 2010. The Rev. Patrick Marion followed until 2017.
Cooleemee then was placed on a charge with Bethel United Methodist Church with the Rev. Tony Owens as pastor. In 2018, Woodleaf United Methodist Church joined that charge, with the Rev. Kevin Jasper as pastor.
Rev. J.M. Downum
Rev. HD Byrum
Rev. W.Y. Scales
Rev. C.M. Short
Rev. C.L. McClain
Rev. N.R. Richardson
Rev. C.B. Bowling
Rev. P.L. Shore
Rev. J.A.J. Farrington
Rev. A.C. Tippet
Rev. T.J. Houck
Rev. G.W. Clay
Rev. J.M. Barber
Rev. A.A. Kyles
Rev. F.J. Stough
Rev. H.C. Freeman
Rev. W.A. Jenkins
Rev. F.H. Shinn
Rev. Harold Austin
Rev. P.H. Gibbs
Rev. J.T. Melton
Rev. C.J. Hartsell
Rev. W.H. Dingus
Rev. Avery Ferguson
Rev. John Edwards
Rev. Alton Fitzgerald
Rev. Wade Childers
Rev. Joseph Collins
Rev. Jay Boyd
Rev. Sandra Martin
Rev. Dennis Marshall
Rev. Perry Bradshaw
Rev. Patrick Marion
Rev. Tony Owens
Rev. Kevin Jasper
Called to Ministry
Rev. Dwight Brown
Rev. Marvin Wellman
Rev. Fletcher Howard
Rev. Raymond Smith
Rev. John Albert Lowder
Rev. Henry Ridenhour
Rev. David Snipes