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Glenwood UMC celebrates 100th year Sunday

By Ashley Hodge

Staff Writer 

Sunday will be a big day for Glenwood United Methodist Church, when its congregation celebrates the church’s 100th anniversary.


Located off Highway 58 in South Boston, the church is pastored by the Rev. Jodie Jessup who shepherds approximately 70 members, according to member Tine Jones. 

The beginnings of Glenwood started with Sunday school in Glenwood’s one room school during the summer. The first Baptist Sunday school at Glenwood School House took place in August of 1905. 

The first church officers included Mrs. Mary Carr, superintendent; P. T. Hupp, assistant superintendent; and Ollie Purcell served as secretary and treasurer. 

 Carr, Charlie Purcell and Ollie Purcell taught at the school.

 “In that setting you had no running water, a pot-belly wood stove for heat and no air condition in the summer,” said Jones. “Most of the congregation walked to church. It’s amazing to think if we had to do something like that today, we probably wouldn’t go to church.”

 “And, the road we live on, there is a creek between our house and the church,” said William Jones. 

“According to the history, the people walked across that creek on logs to come to church.”

Mrs. Jones said, “Makes you stop and think how lucky we are that we live the way that we do, and we are able to go to church. It’s amazing what they went through.” 

Soon after the Glenwood community decided they wanted to become an organized church, the congregation had to decide whether they wanted to organize as a Methodist or Southern Baptist Church. 

After taking a vote, the Methodist Church was organized. 

Some of the people who were instrumental in the church’s formation included the Rev. Sam Pulliam, organizer of the church, the Rev. Milton Leggett, builder, and the Rev. Dave Traynham, a helper and co-worker in organizing, building and carrying on all the church and Sunday school activities. 

Lay-workers were William Henry and Martha Anne Powell, Charlie and Mary Eliza Powell, Baldy and Ollie Monk, John and Annie Dejarnette, Robert B. Whitlow,  Allen and Katie Carpenter, Obe Loftis, Harry and Carrie Boyer and Jo Purcell. 

In June of 1911, the Rev. Pulliam attended the quarterly Virginia Conference at West End Church to begin steps to accepting the church and its membership as a part of Methodism; it was taken into consideration. 

At the annual Virginia Conference in October, Glenwood Methodist Episcopal Church South was accepted. 

On May 10, 1939, Glenwood Methodist Episcopal Church became Glenwood Methodist Church.

 On April 23, 1969, Glenwood Methodist Church became Glenwood United Methodist Church. 

Its first pastor was the Rev. A. W. Linthicum followed by the Rev. Milton Leggett. Leggett asked the Virginia Conference to build a church at Glenwood, and a building committee was formed. 

The Old Cedar Grove Church was bought in 1919 and rebuilt under the direction of John Bradshaw Sr. with the assistance of the Hupp boys, Ben Simmons, Charlie Matthews, Russell Clark, Johnnie Smith, Juba Lowery, Willie and Flournoy Purcell, the Powells and others. 

The building was near completion in November 1919, and the first Sunday school service was held. 

Mr. Jones said, “The Yancey brothers were very instrumental in the very beginnings of the church. They held prayer meetings in the community and encouraged others to come to church. You could almost say they kept the church going for a long time. They were very interested in keeping the church moving along.”

Since the church was rebuilt, several reconstructions have taken place. The roof was replaced in 1929. The pulpit has since been extended out  back, and small windows were installed.

 A sign bearing the church’s name was placed above the front door. The next additions were the pews and cement steps. 

The present building was completed and consecrated on March 30, 1939. On Jan. 30, 1977 the steeple and portico were dedicated.

Over the years, several organizations were formed within the church. In 1914, a Woman’s Missionary Society was organized, and in November of 1917, a Women’s Christian Temperance Union was organized. 

The young people of the church organized an Epworth League in which they gave a penny each Sunday. In 1964, the Methodist Men organized, and President Carlton Loftis established the motto “Hard Work,” which has carried to present. 

Mrs. Jones said, “We do a lot of mission work. We support the Good Samaritan and mental health. This December we will support social services by donating boxes of different kinds of food. I think it’s important for the church to be a part of the community, and we enjoy doing our mission work.” 

The Rev. Jessup came to Glenwood United Methodist Church in June. Mrs. Jones describes her as being a very dedicated, talented lady who gives “thought-provoking sermons.”

The 100th anniversary celebration will begin with Sunday school at 10 a.m. At 11:15, the church will have a service with guest speaker, the Rev. Bob Parks who serves as the District Superintendent of the Farmville District. Special music also will be rendered during the celebration. 

Following the service, members will enjoy a homecoming lunch.  

 “Rev. Jodie Jessup is arranging something kind of special for the service,” said Mrs. Jones. “She plans to have long pieces of ribbon in each pew. Members will take the ribbon and write someone they knew in the church, living or passed. The ribbons will then be put across the altar.” 


When asked about the church’s future, Mrs. Jones said, “Some people may look at us like we aren’t going to keep surviving as a small country church, but we’re not going to give up. We’ve come this long, and I think it makes a difference. We are thankful that we still have a church that we can come to worship in.”