Pisgah United Methodist Church celebrating bicentennial

Photo by Jeff Baughan A view of the sanctuary of the Pisgah United Methodist Church, which has 51 members.

PALESTINE — Pisgah United Methodist Church has been on Garfield Road, about eight miles from Elizabeth in Wirt County, for a long time; emphasis on long time.

“At least for the last 150 years,” said the Rev. Darrin DeVaughn, who has pastored the church for the last four years. The church, founded in 1818, is celebrating its bicentennial during the Sept. 9 worship services.

Four buildings have housed the church. The current building began hosting services March 24, 1983, after a Sept. 27, 1982, groundbreaking. The fourth sanctuary building is situated in front of the Pisgah Cemetery.

“The originial church was a log church built in a flat spot in the cemetery,” said DeVaughn.

According to a church history, the first preachings by the church were in the home of John Smith in 1813. Smith’s home was in the Reedy District of Wirt County. According to the United Methodist History of the Little Kanawha Conference, the area was known then as Conrads Run, but it now called Thorns Run.

Photo by Jeff Baughan Pisgah United Methodist Church is located on Garfield Road in Wirt County. The church will celebrate its 200th anniversary on Sept. 9.

The church was organized in 1818, but the name of the minister is not listed. The church also was used as a school at that time.

Among the organizers of the Pisgah United Methodist Church was Samuel Sheppard, who later became its pastor. Sheppard, according to DeVaughn, “stated numerous times he wanted to be buried beneath the pulpit.” According to church history, the building of the second sanctuary allowed members to grant Sheppard his request.

Sheppard, who was born in 1803, and his wife, Amelia Full Sheppard, who was a charter member, have burial spots close to the church.

The second church was constructed in 1828 of beech, linn and poplar logs. The first Sunday School for the church was organized in 1856.

The third church was built 1869-70 and remained as the Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church until 1939 when three branches of the Methodist churches united and the church’s name was changed to the Pisgah Methodist Church. In 1968, the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethern united and the name became the Pisgah United Methodist Church.

Photo by Jeff Baughan The gravestone of the Rev. Sam Sheppard, former pastor of the church. Sheppard reportedly stated numerous times he wanted to be buried beneath the pulpit of the church.

The third church, according to the United Methodist history, was constructed with two front doors and two aisles with pews from each wall out to the aisles. Pews were placed along the center between the doors to the front. This commonplace arrangement of pews had men entering through the left door and the women through the right. They would sit in pews nearest the walls with the center pews used by the younger and mixed couples.

In 1963, the two doors were closed with a center door installed as were new pews and an altar rail.

At the time of the 1983 dedication, more than half of the membership rolls were descendents of charter members. Today, there are 51 members to the church, although DeVaughn stated the numbers could double when the church hosts a revival.



The Pisgah United Methodist Church in the 1940s.

The following is the schedule of events for the Sept. 9 Bicentennial services at Pisgah United Methodist Church.

* 10 a.m. — Sunday School

* 11:05 a.m. — Morning worship service with the Rev. Darrin DeVaughn hosting the kids sermon and the Rev. Joe Hill preaching.

* 12:30 p.m. — Lunch in the fellowship hall.

* 2 p.m. — Afternoon service with music by Tracy Miller and Johnny Staats. The guest speaker is Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball.

Photo by Jeff Baughan The view from the Rev. Sam Sheppard’s grave to the church’s current location.

* 3:30 p.m. — Cake and homemade ice cream