Beginning 1785 and ending 2014

Last updated: July 18. 2014 1:40PM - 1522 Views
By Kent Wrench

Iris Goodwin and Ann Pate, area citizens concerned about the disbanding of Andrew's Chapel, are viewed on the porch.
Iris Goodwin and Ann Pate, area citizens concerned about the disbanding of Andrew's Chapel, are viewed on the porch.
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The Andrew’s Chapel Methodist church has roots back to 1785 in Sampson County; it is located at the intersection of Fleet Cooper and Andrews Chapel Roads. A John Parker, who was born about 1725 in North Carolina, moved from Edgecombe County to Duplin County about 1757. He settled along the west side of Little Coharie Creek in the part of Duplin that became Sampson County, by 1784. John Parker became a prominent landowner and planter. He is considered the first Methodist in Sampson County.

Services were held in his house as early as 1785. In 1788, Bishop Francis Asbury of the Methodist Church preached at the Parker home on his trip through North Carolina. A “skeleton pulpit” was built for the occasion and was kept by family members for many years. John’s son, Francis, became a Methodist minister and was ordained by Bishop Asbury.

It is interesting to note that although John Parker was a devout Methodist, he owned a still to produce alcoholic spirits. In his will, he included a specific bequest of the “still” to his son, Luke Parker. The inventory of his estate, taken in 1806, included “1 Three gallon jug, the same full of brandy” and “1 case of 14 half gallon bottles, 7 of them full of brandy.” Stills were valuable

property owned by prosperous persons in early America and was commonly passed on by the owners to their wives or children in their wills.

After John’s death about 1805, the old home place where services had been held for twenty years, passed to his son Luke Parker, who was considered irreligious. Luke, however, deeded two acres of land for ten shillings on October 2, 1809, for the purpose of erecting a house of worship for the Methodist Episcopal Church. Trustees for building the church were: Nickilas Parker, William Parker, Thomas Parker, Owen Owens and William Miller. In 1816, a log meeting house was built.

The meeting house was on the Black River Circuit and it took six weeks for the itinerant preacher to make his rounds. Between 1785 and 1816 only three preacher’s names come to light: a Rev. Gamewell, Burnice Barnes and John Mallory. Preachers at the meeting house after 1816 were: C. H. Hines, Reuben Ellis, John Wright, Lewis Skidmore, Waddle Johnson and Joaccum Lane.

The church was favored by a visit from both; Bishop Francis Asbury in 1788 and Bishop George c. 1829, who was passing through Fayetteville and learned of the Parker Meeting House. They were considered the fathers of Episcopacy (chief clerics.)

The meeting house was located toward the community of Mintz, traveling from the present day Andrews Chapel. In 1842, the church moved to its present location, a short distance from the original site, and is known today as Andrew’s Chapel Methodist Church.

The Methodist Episcopal Church was slow to take hold in America. The reason being was that the founder of Methodism, Bishop John Wesley, was an Englishman and opposed to American independence. Thus Methodism was for many years unpopular with the new citizens of America.

Accurate records for Andrew’s Chapel were not kept or they were lost; making it nearly impossible to write an accurate history of the Andrew’s Chapel era of the church. We do know that the church was active for over two and a quarter centuries. It is considered by many to be the mother of Methodism in Sampson County.

The main body of the church house was built on a foundation of long-leaf pine stumps. It has had minor remodeling since first built. Sunday school rooms were added in 1959.

In 1946 Andrews Chapel had a membership of 112 according to the Year Book by Cora Bass. Over the years since 1946 the membership steadily declined until only a handful of members remained.

This historic church, dating from 1785, closed its doors on Sunday, January 5th, 2014. That was the last meeting of a small congregation in the building. It was announced at a recent Methodist conference that Andrews Chapel is being disbanded.

*Sources: Former Members and UNC Library records: the collection contains extracts from the records of the chapel’s congregation. Included are the Reverend Miles P. Owen’s notes on the history of local Methodism, 1867; notes on the Parker and Owen families from 1785; lists of church members, compiled 1867-1879 but dating back to 1785, and of ministers, 1785-1955; and memoranda on quarterly conferences involving Andrew Methodist Chapel 1815-1866.

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