Church History (1860-2010)

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I want us to relive the growth of our church from worshipping under a brush arbor to our present beautiful facility -spanning a period of 150 years!

Love’s Grove has seen many changes since the days of Brush Arbor Worship.  “Big Meeting” was the terminology used to describe revival each second week of August. 

The arbor had to be reconstructed yearly.  It was placed on heavy posts and covered with layers of brush to keep out as much sun and rain as possible.  The ground under the arbor was covered with straw or shavings, and rough, backless benches and an altar were put together.  Night lighting was necessary; therefore, at each corner post was another post with an enclosed section filled with dirt to hold lighted pine knots. 

A few days prior to revival it looked like a western caravan as buggies, wagons, and horseback riders began arriving to make the small huts in the wooded area livable.  Necessary repairs to the altar were made and the woods became alive with mothers working and the laughter of children playing.  Wagons came loaded with lumber, pine knots, straw, coops of chickens for eggs and eating, cows for milk, pigs to eat the scraps, food and clothing.  It was work in the fullest sense of the word, but prideful work.  


Sunday morning those who lived nearby joined those on the campground for the opening services. Three services a day - morning, afternoon and night added up to 21 sermons; five months of preaching today. Anyone interested in three services daily on hard, backless, unpadded benches in 90 degrees weather with plenty of flies and mosquitoes?  


The BIG MEETINGS continued under the arbor for years after a church was constructed.  Finally, as huts became unlivable, and the hassle of yearly repairs became more bothersome, it was decided to forget the whole idea.  Bur a former member, Rubert Smith, (Lewis and Cardell McCoy, and Linda Love’s uncle) begged the church not to forget the arbor.  He paid for permanent repairs – new benches and tin roof.  And it was used the second week in August for several more years.  As late as 1935, a school bus from Stanfield School would bring all the students wanting to attend the services out to the church each morning and they joined their families for the day.  Can you imagine that?  

The woods echoed with a variety of sounds.  If the singing and shouting didn’t shake things up; preaching would.  Traveling ministers provided forceful sermons; Frank Osborne, wearing two pairs of specks, as they were called then, played on old pump organ and led the singing.  His small dog, Penney, attended all the services and sat right by Mr. Osborne’s side.  

Small children played on the straw and if one chose to be unruly he was immediately taken back behind the arbor where plenty of small limbs were available for some HICKORY TEA.  The tea usually sent a child back to the straw calm, but not too cool and collected.  Seldom did the same child go out twice.  

As food supplies dwindled for the campers, those who were able to go home each night brought additional garden supplies the following day to the hut occupants.  

For these forceful sermons, the traveling minister, if lucky, could receive as much as 25¢ per day plus board and lodging for he and his horse.  

Mrs. Feebe Love gave the land for our facility, and that plus so many Loves living in this area, plus the location – situated among a large grove of oak trees was reason enough to choose the name Love Grove.  

In 1867, the church members felt a church was needed, got together, and built the first log church.  It was a straight structure without petitions – no allotted area for Sunday School rooms.  Huddled in different areas of the structure on Sunday mornings were the three classes – CARD, PAPER, and ADULT and each teacher hoping to hold the attention of his class.  It was heated with a wood heater.  

The building was located about the center of our old cemetery and posed no problems until a grave was needed for a diphtheria patient, Croone Little, the small son of Jacob and Frances Reed Little.  Four years passed before another grave was dug.  

The church must have a cemetery and since this was the only cleared area a new church would have to be built.  So, the area north of the church, fairly close to our present facility, was cleared  and  work on  another church, a white framed one, took place in 1884-1885.  This building was large enough to have petitioned classes.  The ladies dyed material with walnut bark, made, and with the help of some of the male parishioners, hung curtains to separate the Sunday School classes.  

This church, like the previous one was heated with a wood stove in winter and hand propelled motion in summer.  You fanned to keep cool while advertising for Hartsell Funeral Home, Lucky Strike Cigarettes, Tuberose Snuff, or by anyone choosing to place fans in the church for advertising purposes.  Flies by day; mosquitoes by night, were plentiful; and since there were no screens for the windows, they had unimpeded access to all occupants of the sanctuary.  A lot of perspiring took place – either from the weather or the minister’s heated sermon, yet, the services were well attended.  

By 1929, a brick structure took the place of the white framed church and it served until the 70’s with minor renovations and repairs.  Walter Little (Bryte Efird’s father) was foreman and purchaser of all supplies used.  John Little (Betty McCoy’s father) and John Efird (Hazel and Everette Efird’s dad) were overseers of the building team made up of church members.  This structure was large enough for folding doors to close off Sunday School classes.  

Roads were unpaved and dusty.  I heard Zeb Little tell about walking to church on Sunday mornings, carrying his shoes in his hands, stopping at Misenheimer Spring (just below the cemetery) to wash his feet, putting back on his shoes and walking on to church.  How many of us would be here under these same circumstances?  

Membership around 1939 was 300 members; two circles of the Ladies’ Auxiliary were functioning with 26-28 active members; average Sunday School offering was $2.55 – total offering for the year $133.01; salary for pastor was solicited house to house and averaged $800-$900 per year.  

In 1947, under the leadership of Rev. D. A. Hamilton, the building fund for the present educational building was started.  During the next 14 years amortization took place regularly by families and collectively by church groups – there were bake sales, suppers galore, Lord’s Acre Projects, pigs and calves raised and sold, some gave egg money, etc.; all gave!  

The Cotton Project was one many members were able to participate in and it was a success.  Cotton picking was not looked forward to by many, but somehow the backs ached less and the dread minimal when 40-50 members gathered on Saturdays to harvest for the Lord.  Uncle Jim Tarleton, choir director, would pick only a short distance before he began to sing songs such as “I’LL FLY AWAY”, “AMAZING GRACE” and other favorites and the pickers joined in – it was a field of beautiful sounds and the time passed rapidly.  With all the singing, chatting, sharing lunch under the large oaks bordering the fields, pickin’ was a pleasure.  If Delette Bost Eudy ever got past one lock at a time, it’s not known.  One large stalk of white cotton could hold her a long time as she removed one lock at a time.  She was either enjoying it so much she was trying to make it last or she just didn’t give a hoot.  Which do you think was foremost in her mind when she tackled a stalk of cotton – “Can’t wait to get with it!” or simple, “Oh! Me! Another one of these!”  But it’s for sure; Bea Bost kept her in the field.  

The large barbecue each fall brought people from every direction.  It was chaired by Beatrice Little Bost and under her direction it was a huge success.  Some of our ladies made as many as 8 or more cakes for the barbecue.  

Mary Brown Little was chairman and treasurer of this education building project.  Building Committee members were:  Hazel Efird, Chairman, Leith Morrison, Claude Whitley, Lewis and Cardell McCoy.  The building was completed in 1961 at a cost of $58,000; indebtedness paid off in 1965.  

For 101 years prior to the completion of the education facility, it didn’t matter how cold, how hot, whether snow, sleet, or rain you went outside to the “relief retreat.”  These quaint, two-room condos were located down near our present covered cooking area; one on the south for males; one on the north for females.  And during all-day affairs and during revival week, the line got rather long with only two accommodations per privy.  

Maybe Love Grovians, along with other Methodists, were getting tired of trying to spell Episcopal, as well as pronounce it.  So in 1968 we became United Methodist and have remained that ever since.  

As church membership grew, minds once more started purring and talk was circulating, “CHURCH TOO SMALL.”  On December 17, 1975, an anxious committee consisting of Cardell McCoy, Chairman; Delette Eudy, Secretary; J. C. Love, F. W. Long, Leith Morrison, along with Pastor Treadway Brogdon met to formulate plans needed in a church.  

On August 28, 1977, groundbreaking took place and construction began on the new sanctuary.  By August 13, 1978, D. A. Holbrooks, Contractor, had the $180,058.33 structure ready for dedication to take place.  Homecoming, August 13, ’78, was formal dedication day.  Bishop Scott Allen, District Superintendent, John Cristy, Superintendent Gene Little (relative of many of our members) and Rev. Bill Farmer, current minister of Love’s Grove conducted the service.  A debt-free, all-ours-to-enjoy sanctuary was now a reality.  

I didn’t know about other denominations, but I do know Methodist.  They are constantly seeing the need and planning for the future.  The tune now being sung was, “WE’RE BURSTING AT THE SEAMS; WE NEED SUNDAY SCHOOL ROOMS.”   Rumors took backseat to action and in 1988 the following committee was selected to formulate plans for a new wing – Chairman, Clinton Polk, Secretary, Susan Eudy; Stowe Brooks, Peggy Long, Marilyn and Chuck Easley, Betty Yow, Bruce Daniels and Bill Whitley.  By 1989, a 3,300 square foot plan was picked and approved.  

Groundbreaking Ceremony took place on March 4, 1990 for this new addition.  

Up until 1994, we remained a two-point charge and for many years we shared a minister with various churches, but since 1940 we have shared 19 ministers with Love’s Chapel.  Our nineteenth was Rev. Jim White who brought a surge of growth to our church.  Many of our members felt with this kind of growth, we should be able to carry the load of a one-point work.  Wishing became reality in 1995, and Love’s Grove went station; Rev. White at the helm.  

With the vote to go station came the realization that we didn’t have a parsonage; only half of one.  “Where on earth are we going to put The White’s now that they are all ours?”  Good question!  

Love’s Chapel was contacted about our joint parsonage.  After some deliberation, Love’s Chapel sold their half to Love’s Grove.  We then sold the parsonage, located in Stanfield, and plans were formulated for a new one.

Parsonage Committee was Patrick Eudy, Chairman; Ancel Whitley, Mildred Barrett, Shelby Long, Robert Long and Charlie Morris.  

Where will the parsonage be located?  Several places were discussed but none seemed ideal until Leith Morrison came before the committee and several other key people with the following recommendation:  “I want to leave something to the church in memory of my wife of 52 years, Reba Tarleton Morrison.  Hazel Efird will sell me 1.9 acres on the corner of Polk Ford and Talley Roads.  I would like to give it to the church for a new parsonage.  Interested?”  

This location turned out to be just what the committee needed in order to proceed; offer accepted from Mr. Morrison.  

Bids were let; Keith Austin was lower bidder.  Mr. Austin was authorized to begin construction as soon as possible.  The total cost, $262,000, included house, appliances, paint, floor covering, paving, and septic system.  

When construction began all that was needed to pay off the parsonage indebtedness was some twenty to twenty-five thousand dollars.  

The Whites were able to occupy the beautiful parsonage on June 26, 2000.  

A church is as strong as its membership allows.  It’s not how many names appear on your membership roll but how well these members attend and live up to the three T’s they pledged when taking their church commitment oath upon joining Love’s Grove.  

For years the roll had not been revised. We were carrying many who had not been in church in years; many had moved away; some joined other churches; and even one whose demise had never been recorded.  

Membership Chairman, Bryte Efird and Rev. White contacted many of these or their family members to verify their whereabouts in order to have a more up-to-date roll.  In 1994 when Rev. White came to Love’s Grove, our membership roll was 314, but with the weeding out of non-attenders, the membership roll took on a new look.  

By 2005, Rev. White had taken in 217 new members, and since the deletion, we have a more accurate roll of 428 (March 20, 2005).  

Again, we began hearing “WE’RE CROWDED.”  What now?  Sanctuary too small to accommodate morning attendance on Sunday was a problem.  Easily solved!  Add an 8:30 contemporary service then people can choose between it and the regular 11:00 traditional we’ve always had.  Both services have been well attended and hopefully everyone has found his niche.  

Two Sunday services, continued growth, programs offered, attendance, future vision for growth led Love’s Grove to be designated a “CHURCH OF EXCELLENCE” by the Western North Carolina Conference each year from 1999-2006.  

Until 1997, nothing had been discussed about future cemetery maintenance.  If some 50-100 years down the road the cemetery is not being maintained, then what?  Hazel Efird, Cemetery Chairman, brought before the Administrative Board of the church the idea of starting a CEMETERY TRUST FUND to be used solely for this purpose when and if the need arose.  The Board approved; the word was passed around, articles were printed in our local papers, and many inside the church donated, and outsiders with families buried in the cemetery contributed.  Presently, the fund stands at $102,137.68.  

With the growth we’ve experienced, a part-time secretary was hired, Donna Jenkins, and she is doing an excellent job.  

The youth are active in ministry to each other and the community and send some 20 young people on a mission trip each year called Carolina Cross Connection.  

In 2004 we began a Junior High youth group for 6th - 8th graders which has expanded our outreach to youth and helped us to better meet the needs of each age group.  Rainbow Group, our children’s ministry (pre-school - 5th grade) was moved to Wednesday evenings, along with children’s and youth choirs.  With Confirmation class also included, Wednesdays have become an action-packed time at Love’s Grove.  

In 2006, plans were completed to construct a large multi-purpose building which would give us additional classrooms, large fellowship hall and kitchen, and space for youth and adult activities.  A building committee was elected and plans were let for bids.  Miles Builders of Charlotte, NC won the contract and began construction in the Fall of 2007.  

Over the next 12 months the church grounds were overtaken by trucks, construction equipment and many workers, including Building Supervisor, Tom Edwards.  Church building committee members were:  Charlie Morris, Chairperson, Jane McClellan, Randy McCoy, Delette Eudy, Eric Barrett, Lee McMillian, Mickey Barrett and Glenda Little.  

October 14, 2008 was the big day when the ribbon was cut and we consecrated the Family Life Center for service.  Total cost:  $2.45 million.  As of this update, (July 2010), approximately $830,000 remains to be paid on the debt.  Praise be to God!  Continued faithfulness to God in giving will enable us to keep using this facility as a tool to make and grow disciples of Jesus.  

On other fronts, we have been blessed by the addition of our first Associate Pastor, Rev. Coy Blackman, who joined out staff in July 2009.  Coy and his wife, Cindy were already members of Love’s Grove when Coy felt the call to pastoral ministry.  

Stephen Ministries was also established in 2008 when Jim White, Coy Blackman, De Greene and Jean Barnes took up the mantle as our first Stephen Leaders.  Several Stephen Ministers have been trained since then to provide on-to-one Christ centered care.  This ministry is a real blessing.  

Thanks to the completion of the Family Life Center, we are now able to house a Youth Center, Wednesday Night Alive Bible Studies and activities for all ages, AA, Healthy Lifestyle classes, Disciple Bible Studies, and many more weekly activities that serve the needs of others in Jesus’ name.  

In recent years Love’s Grove has also seen a renewed emphasis in sending missions building teams out to the world around us.  Dozens of intrepid volunteers have responded to the needs in the aftermath of Hurricanes Floyd, Katrina, Ivan and Frances.  Scores of youth have been “sent out” to serve through Carolina Cross Connection.  More and more, we are becoming a church that responds to Christ’s call to GO make disciples of all nations.  

All along the way, God goes before us.  We pray for faith to follow boldly into the future Christ has prepared for us.

~ Bryte Little Efird 

   (February 21, 1924 - July 22, 2013)

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