The First United Methodist Church
There is no record of an established church prior to 1890 in Gainesboro. However, the minutes of the Tennessee Conference show that an appointment was made to Roaring River in the Cumberland District as early as 1812. The places of worship at that time may have been in the homes or in “Brush Arbors” which were numerous in the beginning days of Methodism.
Records of Gainesboro Methodist Church show that in 1890 there were regular meetings with nine members. There services were held in the old Christian Church underneath the Masonic Lodge Hall. The nine charter members were Frank Kelly, Zelma Kelly, Emma Kelly, Mrs. Jane Jones, Mrs. Lousettie Washburn, Julia Poston, Mrs. Hortense Williams, Mrs. Mollie Brooks and Mrs. Lena Murray. The Reverend J.J. Ransom was the presiding elder and the Reverend W.H. Baird was the preacher in charge.
Gainesboro remained in the Cumberland District for an undetermined time and later was placed in the Lebanon District prior to the organization of the Cookeville District in 1924 of which we are now a part of, in 2016 the district name was changed to Caney Fork District.
During the years of 1891 and 1892 several young men came to Gainesboro to enter businesses. The idea of the Union Sunday School was organized and met in the courthouse at 10:00 a.m. Services at the Christian Church were held in the afternoon. Interest and attendance grew in the Union Sunday School to the extent that n in 1893 when Reverend Smotherman was appointed pastor, he was quick to see the need of a Methodist church building in Gainesboro. He secured Reverend David Kelly, pastor of McKendree Church in Nashville n for a revival meeting. This proved to be a great revival, with several being received into the church on profession of faith. With this uplifting experience, the members and pastor joined forces with the leaders of the Union Sunday School for the new church to start a campaign for a new church building.
In 1894, Mr. R.V. Brooks gave the lot for the church building, with the donations from members and friends, the building was started and soon completed. This is the building we know today as the Old Sentinel office/Historical building. The Union Sunday School was abandoned, and the Methodist Church began to grow even more. We were at that time on the Gainesboro-Granville charge, which contained 5-7 churches.
One member, Mr. Bedford Johnson who was received in membership in 1898, made a great contribution to the church. After his return from military service, he served as Sunday School Superintendent and in other capacities until his health failed in 1909.
Each year revivals were held, and many were saved. Many District Conferences were entertained and Sunday School Conventions that brought crowds so large that our church could not accommodate, and sessions would be held in the courthouse. Before 1920, it was evident that we needed to make plans for a new larger church building. About 1919, the church bought a *parsonage (Civil War Hospital). This parsonage was sold when plans for a new church building were taking place. In locating a place for the present church building, a lot was purchased from D.B. Johnson which included a small cottage. This cottage was used for the parsonage for a while. In 1948 the present parsonage was completed. Many members made generous pledges and were joined by friend of the church to help bring about groundbreaking ceremony that took place on July 4, 1923. Those most helpful and active during this period were D.B. Johnson, Mark Frank, and Brian Galbreath, Fred & Earl Tardy, Daniel Morgan, S.L. Pate and G. Lee McGlasson. The church was completed in 1924.
The sanctuary and classrooms on the first floor were finished and ready for use when the courthouse burned. The basement was available for rent for the court and two rooms upstairs were rented, one for the superintendent of schools and one for Home Economic classes.
The church had about ten years of debt, but never failed in faith and kept the work of the church alive by good revival meetings each year, a lively Sunday School and an active young people’s group. When the Depression hit it did look hopeless: but a few members kept the faith. Letters were mailed, trips were made, the burden was carried to the other Methodist churches in the District, and conferences were held by the Bishop. When all contacts had responded, and it was found that we were within $350.00 of the goal. An all-day service was held, and Bishop Darlington was the speaker. At the close of the service the full amount was in hand. This was indeed a happy day for the church. In April of 1935, the new Methodist church (present building) was dedicated by the elder, Reverend Harvey Seay and Pastor Charles Hawkins.
Through the years, the men and women have been active in the general program of the church and contributed much to the betterment of the church building. The Fellowship Hall was finished. Members have served as organist, Sunday School teachers, officers in the official board and in other capacities. In 2001 we completed central heat and air with 5 units for the entire church. In 2008, we installed a 3rd bathroom to the upstairs sanctuary, two upstairs and one downstairs. In 2015, we started installation of an elevator/lift from the sanctuary to the fellowship hall. We also with several dedicated women reinstalled our UMW program. In 2019, with the help from the community and the Jackson County Ministerial Association were able to start a community youth center, CONNECT. In 2020, we remodeled our kitchen and have future plans to remodel our fellowship hall.
Our history would not be complete without remember those before us and their sacrifices and dedication in remaining so faithful with pride in our church has sent out those called to ministry of gospel.
As we remember the work and accomplishments of those who have labored so faithfully in the past, and from whom have received so great a heritage, may we be ever more conscious of what it has meant to them and what it means to us today.
*Oldest house in Gainesboro