History


Smyrna United Methodist Church was organized by Nat Thomas. The deed is dated 1845, although the church was almost certainly built before that date. In an article written in 1922 in the Richmond Christian Advocate by Pastor G.H.I. Mayo, he speculates that the church was built at least 100 years prior to his writing.

The original church, bearing the name Rocky Seat, was situated on land deeded from Elijah Fletcher to a Board of Trustees that they should erect a house of worship for the use of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The church built at that time burned in the latter part of the 19th century. The church was rebuilt as a rectangular frame structure on an adjacent parcel of land of approximately two acres. James Grant donated this land for the purpose of building a house of worship and cemetery to bury the deceased of the community. The church was renamed Smyrna at this time.

The frame structure built at that time remained relatively unchanged for decades. In 1960, a vestibule and steeple were added. Mrs. P.R. Wilkerson gave this addition in memory of her loved ones. A kitchen and bathroom were added in 1981. Although these two additions are the only major structural changes to the original building, there have been many renovations to the building and changes in the furnishings. The church, once heated by a wood stove, now has a modern central heating and cooling system. The most recent change has been the addition of stained glass windows donated by church members in memory of loved ones.

The organizational history of Smyrna is traceable to 1859 when the Amherst County charge was divided into Amherst and Western Amherst of which Smyrna was a part. In 1913 West Amherst was divided into two charges with Tobacco Row Mountain being the dividing line. The eastern side became Monroe charge with five churches including Smyrna. In 1946 Monroe charge was divided and Smyrna became part of Mt. Tabor charge.

Smyrna has been a significant part of the community for more than one and a half centuries. Today many members no longer live in the immediate community, but return to attend Sunday worship services at Smyrna each week. It is not unusual to find four generations of a family in these services. Smyrna continues to play a very important role in the lives of its members.

Source - The Amherst County Heritage Book, article submitted by Wylene Cunningham Shields

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