St. Timothy's United Methodist Church

  History of St. Timothy's United Methodist Church

          Before Transylvania County was even formed Methodists were holding services in the area.  They met in each other’s homes or in shared “meeting houses” used by Baptist and Presbyterian congregations as well. Out of these modest beginnings were born Camp Meetings and later at least three Methodist churches—Oak Grove, Piney Grove and English Chapel.


            In the 1840s, the Methodists established a Camp Ground where they held revival style services each year.  People from miles around attended these Camp Meetings for as long as two weeks at a time.  Families brought their stock and supplies and set up camp--attending services and sharing in fellowship and meals with others.  Preachers from far and near delivered sermons several times a day.

          The original Camp Ground was located to the north of where Blue Ridge Community College is located today.  Although there was a spring on the property it did not provide enough water for all the people and livestock so a new location had to be found.

          In 1847 Samuel Wilson offered a running lease for a Camp Ground on land that is today at the foot of the Deer Lake Community.  The running lease stated that at least one meeting had to be held during a year and if the people missed holding a meeting for five years the property went back to its owner.  According to a Henderson County deed dated June 15, 1847 Wilson deeded 11 ½ acres to Trustees, Methodists Episcopal Church South.  These Trustees included Wilson, Alexander English, William A. Paxton, Benjamin A. Trull, Charles Slagle, L.S. Gash and George Killian.  The Henderson County Plat book includes a diagram of Wilson's Camp Ground with 27 tents identified.

          On February 15, 1861the North Carolina General Assembly passed an act establishing Transylvania County from Henderson and Jackson Counties.  On May 20, 1861 two significant events occurred.  First, Transylvania County court convened creating a local government.  The first day of court was held at the home and store of B.C. Lankford located where Blue Ridge Community College is today.  The second day of court, May 21, was held at Wilson's Camp Ground.

          The second significant event to occur on May 20, 1861 was that North Carolina seceded from the Union.  The Civil War disrupted much of life in the early-to-mid 1860s, including the Methodist meetings at Wilson's Camp Ground.  When the state militia was called to Brevard to help control bushwhackers they set up camp at the Camp Ground.  Once things calmed down the militia pulled out.  However, shortly afterward the bushwhackers were back and set fire to the tents at the Camp Ground.  Only the main tent was saved.

          After the war, it was decided that services would be held at nearby Oak Grove Church rather than the Camp Ground.  Since the lease stated that the Camp Ground property would return to its owner if not used on September 10, 1868 Wilson's 11 ½ acres were deeded to Lorenzo Gaston Siniard.  Siniard's wife, Margaret was Wilson's oldest daughter.


          Alexander Allison donated the property on which Oak Grove church stands.  Allison was the brother-in-law of Samuel Wilson's daughter, Elizabeth.  Alexander English furnished the lumber and helped build the church.  He was a preacher and later helped establish a Methodist Church, today known as the English Chapel, on the Davidson River.  After the Oak Grove was constructed it was discovered that it was six feet unto property owned by Captain Neill.  Lorenzo Siniard exchanged two acres of his neighboring property for two acres of Neill's property then donated the two acres for the church and surrounding cemetery.  Although the Siniard's attended the Presbyterian church they have always had close ties with Oak Grove.  Oak Grove is named for the many oak trees on the grounds.

          Following the Civil War school was held at the church.  At one point Oak Grove, along with Piney Grove, Rosman and other Methodist churches were nearly closed because of a lack of funds.  Mr. and Mrs. C.A. Shuford stepped forward with $150 to keep them operational. 

          With improvements in roads and transportation in the post-World War II era the little congregation grew rapidly.  Renovations provided only a little relief.  An old school bus was brought in to serve as a classroom.  Finally it was decided relocation was the only solution.

          In May 1960 under the leadership of the Rev. Mack Armstrong, three acres were purchased less than half a mile north of Oak Grove.  The congregation threw itself into fund raising efforts holding Friday night community dinners and “raising cane”.  In 1961 church members planted and harvested cane to be made into molasses and sold.

          On November 24, 1963, the last service was held at Oak Grove, with lay speaker Hale “Guis” Siniard, great-grandson of Lorenzo and Margaret Siniard, delivering the final message.


          As Oak Grove closed its doors, the doors at the new church opened.  Rev. Armstrong had suggested the new church be named St. Timothy.  Timothy comes from the Greek name “Timotheus” which means “a worshiper of God” or “one who honors God”.  It was felt that there was no better way to honor God than by worshiping Him in the new surroundings.

          On December 1, 1963 the first service at St. Timothy was held in the fellowship hall which served as a temporary sanctuary.  The original building consisted of the fellowship hall, a kitchen, a study and six classrooms.  Additional rooms were added in 1965. 

          In 1967 Robert L. Daniels was named architect for the construction of the sanctuary.  The sanctuary is a uniquely beautiful design.  Arranged in a square building, the seating is on the order of a theater-in-the-round suggesting closeness and intimacy in the worship.  The new building also included a church office, pastor’s study, choir room and lounge.  The first service was held on January 12, 1969.  In 1969 Daniels was awarded the Randolph E. Dumont award in architecture for the sanctuary.

          The fellowship hall and a conference room were added in 1996.  In 2009 a campaign was undertaken to install stained glass windowsin the sanctuary. 

          St. Timothy is known throughout the community for its outreach and open doors.  Members are actively involved in our community by volunteering at Sharing House and Bread of Life, through gleaning local produce, building Wesley CDC affordable housing and by supporting our neighborhood schools of Pisgah Forest Elementary and Davidson River Alternative School.  St. Timothy’s ministry also takes the form of providing space for AA groups and activities including square dancing, yoga and dart ball.  It truly encompasses the Methodist motto of open hearts, open minds, open doors.


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