A BRIEF HISTORY OF DICKSON FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
The following is an excerpt from the 1992 DFUMC centennial pamphlet.
In the spring of 1787 Benjamin Ogden was appointed by Francis Asbury to minister to the Cumberland Settlements the beginnings of United Methodism in Middle Tennessee.
That statement from Cross and Flame, Two Centuries of United Methodism in Middle America, is from John Abernathy Smith.
What is now known as the First United Methodist Church in Dickson stems from two earlier sources in this city. The first was the Methodist Episcopal Church, sometimes called the “Northern Church”, which was established in 1867.
The second, and perhaps numerically stronger, source was the First United Methodist Episcopal Church South, established in 1892. Then in 1968 the United Brethren merged with the combined Methodist churches.
On Easter Sunday, April 1, 1923, the Rev. N. Burch Tucker preached the first sermon in the sanctuary of this church. A facsimile of his written account as recorded in his diary is included in this booklet.
The “Episcopal” Church organizers were T. F. McCreary, The Rev. R. W. McCombs and wife, William McFarland, James Lamb, Lewis Lighter and James Harnish.
Services were held on the farm of Henry Reep one mile east of Sneedville Station, as Dickson was called at that time. J. H. Derryberry was a supply preacher.
Members secured a lot where the building, now converted to offices, remains at 203 Church Street. People from other faiths who had no church to attend worshiped in the “Northern” Methodist Church until they built their own churches. Many people referred to the “Episcopal” church as the “Northern” Methodist church to differentiate between the “Southern” church when it started.
The last pastor of the Northern Church before unification was the Rev. M. D. Clayburn. Other pastors were the Reverends Virgil Pafford, J. W. Duke, J. R. Thomas, J. A. Harris, H. M. Torrey, J. M. Clayton, T. J. Strickland, J. D. Holland, J. W. Deshazo, A. E. Phillips, W. J. Fesmire, R. S. Quarels and P. E. Ackley. The Rev. Clayburn remained until 1940.
Among the prominent families in the early Northern Methodist Church were the Scotts, Brights, Freemans, Reeps, Chandlers, McCrearys, McFarlands, Sensings, Rickerts, Ostranders, and Cullums.
MEMORIES OF EARLY DAYS
Today, May 24, 1992, members at this church will be comparing and remembering how things have changed since early in 1900. Here are some samples: Sunday School classes had “corners” in the small church on Water Street, the youngest class occupied the front “pew” and used little cards with Bible pictures and lessons. The small choir loft was on the left side of the sanctuary and Professor D. L. Swank, piano and violin teacher, directed the choir. Among the singers were Mrs. Illma Hogin, W. T. Rogers, Ben McCreary, S. G. Robertson, Mrs. Ethel Fuqua, Marvin and Talmage Taylor and others.
Sunday School teachers remembered include Mrs. Dee Self, George Collins, Jr., Mrs. D. B. Coleman, Mrs. Jessie Sizemore, J. A. Clement, Mrs. Jeff Johnson, and Bob Boyte.
Big events included Christmas programs, trees decorated with big red bells, tinsel, popcorn, paper chains, sacks of hard candies, oranges, raisins dried on the vine and nuts; church picnics which began with a train ride on the Centerville Branch, ended at Bon Aqua Springs, huge baskets of fried chicken and all the trimmings, a walk back to the train, then home; candy pullings, parties where games of going to Jerusalem, spin the bottle, and musical chairs, were enjoyed.
The Epworth League (now known as the United Methodist Youth Fellowship) shared programs with other churches. There were mite boxes for missions, Womans’ Missionary Societies, Young Ladies Missionary Society and children’s groups all worshiping and making money to buy furnishings for the beautiful new church. There were big tent meetings on the lot where Taylor Funeral Home now is complete with traditional Methodist shouting.
Later memories include young people’s religious drama groups, bazaars, and each reader can add his or her memories of the old Methodist Church and the present good things that are happening which someone in 2092 will recall about “the good old days”.