The Founding (1855 to 1860)
In the year 1855, at the home of Lorenzo Dow and Sarah Jane Byrnes Dunbar, ten people met for the purpose of organizing a Methodist Church. The house was located five miles east of Clintwood in what was then known as the Dwale community. The presiding officer was the Reverend Alexander Maness, Circuit Rider, who became the first pastor. The charter members were Lorenzo Dow and Sarah Jane Dunbar, Cynthia M. Dunbar, Captain John Perry Chase, Nannie Dunbar Chase, Franklin Neel, Mrs. Franklin Neel, Elizabeth Neel, Louemma Neel and Nancy Neel. Services continued to be held in the Dunbar home until 1860. Upon the death of Mr. Dunbar in that year, the members met in the home of Mr. and Mrs. John P. Chase and in the home of other members in Clintwood, then known as Holly Creek.
Building the First CUMC (1860 to 1880)
According to Mrs. Margaret French Baker, now deceased, who was the granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. Dunbar, a log building of one room was constructed on the east lot at the corner of East Main Street and Sutherland Avenue. The date is uncertain, but it is thought to have been built sometime between 1860 and 1880. This small building was used not only for church services, but also for the first Sunday School, organized in 1883, membership ten. In that same year the Woman’s Missionary Society was formed. It is not known when the church became affiliated with the Holston conference.
During the Civil War (1861-1865) a division occurred between the Northern and the Southern branches of the Methodist Church. On the cornerstone of the present building this division can be noted: Methodist Episcopal Church, South.
Constructing the Second CUMC (1880 to 1911)
In 1880 Mr. Chase gave a lot for a second church. The location was the same as the present one-on Main Street. This building served the congregation from 1883 until 1911, when a third structure was needed for the expanding membership. Since one aspect of the period was the holding of frequent revivals, a meeting in 1896 was instrumental in adding forty-six new members to the growing congregation.
Creating & Enhancing the Current Church (1911 to 1956)
The construction of the present church began in 1911 on the same site-the land given by Mr. Chase. Built of native sandstone, it is one of the most beautiful landmark buildings in Dickenson County. It contains magnificent stained glass windows, said to have been imported from England. These windows are memorials to families who were outstanding in the history of the church. Although the building was not completed and dedicated until 1939, renovation and redecoration took place at various intervals. In 1950 a Hammond electric organ was installed. Carpet and new pews were placed in the sanctuary, and a dining room and kitchen were made in the basement. These improvements were done in 1956.
All of the improvements, however, were not confined to the church building. A drive for funds for the new parsonage was instigated in 1953, and the following year construction began on the present brick house. It was completed in 1955. An interesting point regarding the parsonage is that the plans were drawn up by one of the church members-W.E. French.
The Fire (1958 to 1959)
On May 20, 1958 a fire, which apparently started in the attic, almost destroyed the church. Only the stone walls, the three large stained glass windows, and the small window in the west vestibule remained standing. It was only by the grace of God and the skill of the Volunteer Fire Department that the irreplaceable windows were prevented from shattering by the intense heat. The actual cause of the fire was never determined. When the trauma of the disastrous fire had subsided somewhat, the members began looking for a place to worship until a new building could be constructed. The School Board granted permission to use the high school auditorium, and the arrangement continued until the fall of 1959. In the meantime, the members began a subscription campaign for a new church building. Facilities were to be expanded to include a larger fellowship hall and kitchen, a recreation room, additional Sunday School classrooms, rest rooms and a library. The library now shares honors with a small memorial chapel.
The architect and contractor for the new church was E.L. Ford of Norton, and the Louisville (Kentucky) Art Glass Company repaired the windows that had been damaged. Since the Hammond organ was irreparable because of the fire, a Baldwin electronic organ, built to match the wood of the new pews, was installed in October 1959. The wood for the pews was obtained in Dickenson County. They were manufactured by the Wolfe Brothers Company of Piney Flats, Tennessee.
On October 11, 1959 the completed church was formally reopened for worship with a celebration in the form of a homecoming. Former pastors, former members, members living elsewhere and friends were invited to attend.
A Period of Growth (1966 to 1983)
Since the new church had tile floors, carpet was laid in the sanctuary in 1966. At later dates the remainder of the church was carpeted. By 1970 the debt for the new building was liquidated, and on September 13 the new church was dedicated, Bishop L. Scott Allen of the Holston Conference, officiating. For 24 years the custom-built organ had served well. However, in 1982 it began to falter, and because of its age a committee recommended that the church purchase a new one. In 1983 a larger Baldwin was installed, but the company had ceased to build the console to order.
- Click here to read part one of the church's dedication program!
- Click here to open the second part of CUMC's dedication program!
Contemporary Church History (1986 to Present)
In 1986 an air conditioning unit, pew cushions and new carpet were placed in the sanctuary. Through the generosity of one of the members, another air conditioning unit was added to cool the remainder of the church in 1987. The same member was also instrumental in having some remodeling done to the parsonage in 1988, which improved both appearance and convenience.
Another innovation was the installation of an amplifying system through which the church began broadcasting Sunday morning services over the local radio station. This even started in 1990. Also in the spring of 1990, the church sponsored a Vietnamese family for three months and helped them become part of the community. In the autumn of the same year new protective coverings were sealed over the sanctuary windows, enhancing their beauty and increasing their value. The work was done by the Shenandoah Stained Glass Company of Front Royal.
It was learned in August 1991 that there were twelve people present at the organizational meeting of this church at the Dunbar home in 1885. According to Earl Reedy of Kingsport, Tennessee, his great-grandparents, William and Lydia Reedy, rode horseback from Caney Ridge to attend that meeting. Mr. Reedy stated that a former church historian, James. M. Skeen, told him this story.
In the fall of 1992, the family of Pearl Rush Sutherland employed the Shenandoah Stained Glass Company to install a window in the chapel in her memory. The lovely window depicts Christ praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and is a beautiful addition to the chapel, itself a memorial.
One of the more significant years in the history of the Clintwood United Methodist Church was 1993. During that year the Clintwood Church became a charge with the McClure Church. Each had been an independent unit, but the limited economy of Dickenson County prompted the change. The charge was later separated and both churches found their own preachers—Roger Deel for McClure and John Price for CUMC
In 2014, our original stained glass windows were repaired and restored by a company from Knoxville, Tennessee. In addition, new stained glass was installed at the rear of the church. This work refreshed the church's exterior and enables our windows to further beautify Main Street.
This fresh website was developed in 2015 by Forward View Consulting, a local design firm. Our goal is to combine modern technology with CUMC's historic status in the community as we build a new generation of Christians. May God continue to bless our ministry!