New Hope Church – A Brief History

Although the Methodist Church in England dates back to 1739, Methodism in America did not begin until the 1760s, when immigrants from Ireland brought the Methodist movement with them. By 1820, Methodist membership in America had reached nearly 260,000. Twenty years later, membership had swelled to 740,000. By the middle of the century, Methodism was so deeply rooted that President Lincoln told a church delegation in May 1864: “It is no fault in others that the Methodist Church sends more soldiers to the field, more nurses to the hospitals, and more prayers to heaven than any. God bless the Methodist Church.”

In 1874, in the piedmont area of North Carolina about halfway between the two Moravian villages of Bethabara and Bethania, seven miles west of Winston-Salem in Forsyth County, a small group of Methodists gathered to discuss formation of a new church. Leading the discussion were Mr. Francis M. Pratt, Mr. John Mitchell Richmond, and Mr. Ransom Walker of Shattalon Drive. Land was donated, a congregation organized, and by the end of the year, the first church building was completed, largely with volunteer work.

New Hope’s first church was a log building approximately 20 feet by 32 feet. The benches were plank seats with back rests. A rail down the middle of the church separated the men from the women. Six small windows let in light, oil lamps rested on shelves around the walls, and a stove at the front of the church was used for warmth in cold weather. In the early years of New Hope Church, many of the services were led by laymen, and gospel singings were often held on Friday nights.

In 1878, land was donated for a cemetery. The following year, the church was dedicated by Reverend Moses J. Hunt with 15 members. By 1889, New Hope had grown to 60 members, a significant number in those days, especially in a rural farming community.

History is still in the making. More to come…