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Church Historian: David Weaver

Learn from our past and anticipate our future. 

50th Anniversary of Spruce Street United Methodist Church

Every family should be able to trace its ancestry to appreciate those that came before, to learn of the wealth or weaknesses of their inheritance-to learn about those from whom they have received their faith.

            The motto of the Methodist Protestant church is “Earnestly contend for the faith once delivered unto the saint” but doubt if many of us can name those who contended for the faith. Three that come to mind are George Brown, who formed a society at Palatine, Marion County, Asa Shinn from the founding family of Shinnston, Marion County and Cornelius Springer, a veteran of the War of 1812. He helped form a society at Morgantown in the home of Joseph Shackelford.

            Methodist missionaries came to America and were abandoned after the Revolution. They organized a church, the Methodist Episcopal Church, putting all power in the hands of the clergy.  The Methodist Protestants championed representative Methodism and were expelled. The first convention for the M P Church was held in Baltimore in 1828. The reformers felt free to follow John Wesley’s advice “simply to follow the Holy Scriptures and the primitive church”. Talks of merger with the Methodist Episcopal Church began a early as 1908 ending with the Uniting Conference in Kansas City, Missouri when the Methodist Episcopal, Methodist Episcopal South and Methodist Protestant united in 1939. Morgantown’s First Methodist Protestant Church became Spruce Street Methodist Church. The word United was added to the title in 1968 with the merger with the Evangelical United Brethren Church, a church which had a close relationship with Methodists among German speaking people of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia.

            The beginnings of Spruce Street United Methodist Church took place at what is now 313 Chestnut St, the home of Joseph Shackelford. The Methodists first came to Morgantown around 1785. They attended a small all-denominational church built by Michael Kerns. Then they built the Methodist Church which stood in the old ME graveyard. In 1830 the Reverend Cornelius Springer of Wilmington, DE. and W. N. Marshall, were guests of the Shackelfords. These gentlemen were advocating separation from the ME church because of the total power given to the bishops and elders within the church. For hosting them and praying for their success, Mr. Shackelford was expelled from his church. Several indignant friends met with him and his family to support them and form a charter. The Reverend George Brown from western Pennsylvania came to this area to preach the gospel and organize societies. He was one of the early inspirations for the formation of the Methodist Protestant Society in Morgantown.

            The group met at the Shackelford residence which is now the Old Stone House that is owned and operated by the Service League of Morgantown as a gift shop where the proceeds go back into the community. The congregation met in the old Court House for several years before the society members erected a brick building on Chestnut Street. This structure was destroyed by fire in 1872. The religious society was without a home and held meetings in the old public school building. The church grew in strength and numbers. The Trustees elected to purchase a lot and erect a house of worship on Walnut Street. This site is now occupied by the Barbe Davis building. After the turn of the century the congregation outgrew the church. In 1908 a new building was constructed.

            The church benefited from good leadership, a progressive outlook and great evangelism. In 1953 plans were begun for a new educational building. It was erected on Fayette Street and housed Sunday School classes, a chapel and a gymnasium.  Sunday School membership was 830(average attendance 463), with over 85 teachers and officers. This is quite a testament to thirst for the knowledge of God from the humble beginnings of the first organized class in 1881 with 4 members. Christian Education has always been an important ministry that has served our church well. 

Throughout the years the congregation has been served by many dedicated people with inspired gifts and graces.

written by Kathy Hanko in 2018 for the 50th Anniversary Celebration

Have you ever wanted to know more about the stained glass windows at the church? Click Here to learn more about Christian Endeavour and our windows.



Ever wonder about the sweet sound of a church bell pealing out the welcome to church on Sunday morning? The one at the corner of Spruce and Fayette Streets is a 400-pound bell from McShane Foundry located at that time in Baltimore MD. It was ordered for the Methodist Protestant Church of Morgantown in 1887. It cost $80.00, was shipped by railroad and paid in cash where it was installed in the church on Walnut St. It was moved to Spruce St when the new church building was constructed. The McShane Foundry is the only large Western-style bell maker still operating in the United States and is now located in Glen Burnie, MD.

An online inflation calculator says the 1887 $80.00 would be equivalent to $2,173.00 today. Still not as much as I expected. What do you think?

Scotts Run Settlement House is on "on the map!"

That's right - Monongalia County has a United Methodist historically designated site. Why would Scotts Run Settlement House receive such distinction?


The latest in NEJ Historical news  Coming Soon!


From time to time, treasures from church files appear in the form of narratives, and Church Historian Kathy Hanko shares them with the Administrative Council. Enjoy these stories:

Learn more about Olive Hodges, her connection to Morgantown and the Methodist Protestant Church: Click Here

Four boys


History of Lay Witness Mission at Spruce Street UMC

The Reverend Ben Johnson, Methodist pastor in the Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference was a sought-after revival preacher. While he was doing a revival, he sent for his prayer group to give witness to the meeting. The messages were so powerful that many came to the altar call. He found that laypersons listened to other laypersons; dialog resulted in deeper commitment; laity and clergy learned to participate as equals and witnessing laypersons both inspired and encouraged others to witness. As he did other revivals with lay witnesses, he began to send lay coordinators to conduct the missions. A clergy-coordinated event became a lay-coordinated event and the Lay Witness Movement was launched. In 1960 it was incorporated as the Institute of Church Renewal. 

To read the rest of the article Click Here

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Documents from Spruce Street United Methodist History

West Virginia Wesleyan and Methodism

A Traveler’s Guide to the Heritage Landmarks of the United Methodist Church

United Methodist Church Commission on Archives and History



updated October 2021



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