Our History

A Brief History of Trenton UMC

The beginnings of Methodism in the Trenton area can be traced back to Feb. 10, 1788, when Francis Asbury recorded the following in his journal: “We then had to move on toward Trent.” On January 24, 1791, Bishop Asbury returned and recorded these words:  “I had a most dreary ride to Trenton.  Here I met with Lewis Bryan, brother of the late general.”  Asbury preached on this occasion at an interdenominational chapel or “Free Church.”  The Jones Circuit was formed from this part of the New River Circuit the following year.  Bishop Asbury visited the area several times preaching at churches and at “preaching places” as well as overseeing the general health of the congregations; the last recorded visit was in 1815. Despite these earlier beginnings, very little is known about the earlier years of the Methodists in Trenton.  Written records begin in 1880 and a list of Oral tradition has the Methodists meeting for many years in a “Free Church” located on a site within the present Trenton cemetery. 

In the fall of 1887, a lot was obtained from the Jones Circuit Parsonage Trustees, and a new facility was soon built under the supervision of Mr. Ivy Andrews.  This original structure is still in use, but with some alterations and additions.  Early in the 1920’s the seating capacity was doubled and two Sunday School rooms were added.  Again in the 1950’s the structure was enlarged, adding more Sunday School classrooms, a fellowship area, kitchen, and restrooms.  This church was specifically included and described in the Trenton Historic District and placed in the National Register of Historic Places.  The Sanctuary was renovated to provide a most beautiful place to worship our God.  In December 1987, a new fellowship hall, kitchen, and pastor’s study were completed and to celebrate the remarkable achievement of having retired the building debt in just over 3 years, a note-burning and dedication ceremony was held on Sunday June 9, 1991.  The new building was named “Whitaker Hall” in memory of W. Murray Whitaker, a faithful member and primary benefactor. 

By 1889 there was a congregation known as the Trenton Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and there have been two name changes since then. In 1939, we became known as Trenton Methodist Church; and in 1968 the Evangelical Brethren Church merged with the Methodist Church, and we became Trenton United Methodist Church. This Church acted as a relief center at the beginning for the entire town and community. However the life of a congregation cannot be told by a review of dates and building programs; the real life is contained in the individual lives touched by God’s grace and in the story of the corporate mission of the congregation as it seeks to live by faith. 

Quarterly Conference records contain some rich accounts of grace and love in action.  The oldest currently available record reports the election of Thomas J. Whitaker as Superintendent of the Trenton Sunday School on October 11, 1879.  Mr. Whitaker and others kept this school open during the winter months when the norm was to shut down and wait for warmer weather.  He would hold this post for many years, the last being in 1926.  Other examples of congregational life are found in the following accounts: “Church house is paid in full with $45 set aside to paint the church house.” (1892); “ A more loyal and sacrificing people I have never met anywhere. Their goal is to bring up a clean sheet each year and they do it.” (Sept 27, 1924) 

For several years Trenton United Methodist Church was part of a three-point charge.  The other two churches were Oak Grove United Methodist Church and Maple Grove United Methodist Church.  Oak Grove became a Methodist Church in 1879.  The church membership grew until a World War II military base was built near the church, and membership began to decline.  The Oak Grove members voted in 1983 to discontinue their services, and most of the members merged with Trenton.  Those members have been a blessing to the Trenton Church.  They have added energy, service, commitment, and a new dimension to Trenton Church.   Maple Grove began as a “free church.”  Following an extended revival in about 1895, several persons were baptized, and others transferred their membership to form what became Maple Grove Methodist Episcopal Church, South.  In 2013 Maple Grove merged with Trenton, and those members also have added to the life and service of Trenton United Methodist Church.

  Trenton UMC is fondly known as a “praying church,” and we often get requests to add family and non-members of the community to our prayer list.  We have an active Sunday School, choir, youth program, and a Food Pantry.  The Food Pantry has free food available for those who need it every Saturday morning.  The church suffered flood devastation when Hurricane Florence visited in September 2018.  We had rebuilt and returned for worship service in the fellowship hall when Covid-19 appeared, and repairs to the sanctuary were completed while we were having services in the parking lot or online.  Many normally scheduled gatherings have been canceled or curtailed because of the pandemic.  With God’s blessing, we shall return to abundant service to God and our community.


FORMER PASTORS OF JONES CIRCUIT AND TRENTON CHARGE

PASTORFROMTILREMARKS
John M Gunn18581859Circuit Rider-Jones Circuit formed 1858 til 1948
F J Eatman18601861(Circuit Riders continued to travel til 1883)
G G Hines18611862
William M Walsh18631864
R P Bibb18681869
E A Howland18691870
J J Carden18701871
James Willson18711873
W H Cunninggim18731874
N A Hooker18741876
Jeremiah Johnson18761878
William H Puckett18781882Deceased 1912-buried in Trenton Cemetery
L L Johnson188218831st parsonage for Jones Circuit built 1883
Alexander D Betts188318861st pastor to live in Trenton Parsonage
J F Washburn18871888Land deeded for Trenton Church(along S side of parsonage)
Lawrence O Wyche18881889
I A White18891890Trenton Church completed. Married Ms Johnnie Heritage
Robert B Gilliam18901893died during appointment in 1893 & buried in Trenton cemetary
William B Lee18931896Brazil missionary
Henry E Tripp18951896deceased 1923 & Buried in Trenton cemetery
J M Benson18971900deceased 1919. Maple Grove church built
Daniel C Geddie19001904
F S Becton19041906New parsonage built beside church
John M Wright190719081st to live in parsonage-deceased 1940
Philip Greening19081910
R D Daniel19101911Left the ministry
Charles Edward Vale19111914died 1918 & buried in Trenton cemetery. Born in England
C T Rogers191519191st to own a car-Model T Ford
Charles A Jones19191921Oak Grove Church land purchased & church built
K F DuVal19211924sanctuary enlarged & 2 classrooms added 1922
H L Davis19241925
J C Whedbee19251926deceased 1948
Elijah L Stack19261927deceased 1951
T W Lee19271931
P O Lee19311933
J D Young19341935
F B Brandenburg19361939Merged to form the Methodist Church
W G Lowe19391941Trenton Womans Society of Christian Service chartered 1940
Ernest G Cowan19411944Deceased 1960
John R Poe19441946
W E Howard19461948Jones circuit became Trenton Circuit 1948
Charles B Long19491953
Joseph J Grimes195319541st pastor of 3-point charge. Circuit divided into 2 Charges
Lewis A Dillman19541959Church enlarged & heating system installed
Walton N Bass19591963Compiled booklet “ Methodism in J C”
John E Wood19631967
Ivey J Wall19671968Merged to become the United Methodist Church
Paul E Oldaker19681970Became Trenton United Methodist Church
L Ray Sparrow19701971
James H Coile19711976Parsonage willed to Trenton 1976.Old one sold & moved
Bobby Smith197619801st to live in new parsonage
J Neal Salter JR19801983Oak Grove discontinued (Razed in 1993)
John R Woodard JR19831990Whitaker Hall added 1987
Charlene H Pierce-Guider199019981st Female Pastor
Billy A Olsen19992000Building damaged by Flood Floyd 1999
Worley Knowles20002001Deceased during appointment
Peg O Witt20012006Retired during appointment
Elva L “Bud” Morton III20072012Retired during appointment. Died 2016
Bettie Francis20122016Maple Grove closed & building sold 2015
Leo Fair20162021Flood damaged by Hurricane Florence 2018
Heejun Yang20212022 1st  Asian/immigrant/Ph.D pastor
Joan Fisher2022