Central United Methodist Church ~ Radford, VA
Thursday, February 11, 2016


Methodism came to the Radford area between 1781 and 1783. As the people flocked westward, Methodist preachers followed the flow. The first Methodist Church in this area, the Page Meetinghouse, was opened in 1781. Most of the Methodist churches in this area can trace their origin to this early movement. Bishop Asbury often visited as he made his visits to the West.
In February 1894, Bourne Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was established at the corner of Third and Wirt Streets in the West Ward of the city of Radford. The property for the church was conveyed by deed from E. W. Jones and Mary C. Jones, his wife, to James Walters, J. H. Woodrum, J.M. Echols, and F. A. McCulloch, Trustees.
Bishop Gallaway appointed Reverend T. A. Jordan as first pastor of the church.
According to Holston Conference records, E.N. Woodward served as pastor in 1904, Charles H. Fogleman in 1905, J.F. Barnett in 1906 and 1907, and H.B. Atkins in 1908. At that point, Central’s pastors are listed as “East and West Radford” with J.A.H. Shuler serving in 1910, and J.E. Naff serving in 1911.
Bishop Denny, Reverend E. H. Cassidy, and others visited Bourne Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South in 1913, and suggested that it be relocated in a more suitable place in the city.  On February 12, 1913 Trustees B.O. Pryor, W.R. Jordan, E. Johnson, Selden Longley, E.S. Jones, R.E. McNeil and F.E. Grayson purchased lots on the corner of Second and Wadsworth for $300 from John L. Vaughan and his wife. The building was erected and dedicated as the Radford Methodist Church. The Holston Conference records indicate that J.W. Rader was the pastor during the years of 1912 and 1913
Between the years of 1914 and 1927 the Conference records list a series of pastors having served at Central. 1914 and 1915- Thomas Priddy/J.H. Montgomery, 1916 and 1917- H.B. Brown/Marion Stevenson, 1918 through 1920- W.B. Belcher/Ellis C. Jessee and J.B. Simpson, 1921 through 1923- Z.B. Randall/J.H. Umberger/ R.A. Owen, 1924 and 1925- A.S. Thorn/R.A. Owen, and 1926 and 1927- E.A. Shugart/R.A. Owen.
One of the disasters of the 1929 Depression was the closing of Radford Methodist Church and the transfer of its membership to Grove Avenue Methodist Church.
One account says that in 1936 the church was re-opened as the Radford Mission by a few loyal Methodists of Central Radford.
Another account states that Nannie Shelburne and some other loyal Methodists broke the padlock, swept the church, and started a Sunday School. During this time, students from Emory & Henry College served the congregation, named the Radford Mission, as supply preachers. Payment was a home-cooked Sunday lunch with kind families of the congregation! New people moved to Radford and the church grew steadily.
A full time pastor, R.C Bailey, was appointed to the church in 1942 and served until 1948 when H.B. Tiller was assigned. In 1943 the official name of the church was changed to Central Methodist Church, and Virgil Anderson was named as assistant pastor, apparently just for that year. Rev.Tiller is remembered as being a quiet, dignified, and formal man and his wife as having directed the choir.
 On August 15, 1944, trustees L.E. Miles, G.T. Jackson, S.T. Dickens, Glenn Young, and Addie Wade purchased the house at 500 Fifth Street from Frank and Grace Martin for $6000.This house was to be the church parsonage for 27 years, and was sold December 10, 1971 for $18,000.


According to a newspaper article dated September 8, 1951,
“A number of repairs were made to Central Methodist Church over a period of three years prior to this date. During this period of time, the basement of the church has been redecorated and furnished as a recreation room for the youth, the belfry has been remodeled, and both the inside and outside of the church have been painted. Shrubbery has been planted on the church lawn. New lighting fixtures have been put in the sanctuary and a wine colored velvet curtain placed around the choir loft. A Sallmon’s painting of the “Head of Christ” has been placed behind the pulpit. The most recent improvement to the church building has been in the sanctuary where the floors have been refinished and a new wine colored carpet has been laid. A wine colored velvet kneeling pad has been placed around the altar. The entire cost of this latter improvement was $1076. During the past three years the membership of the church has increased by 84 and the present membership number is 236. The church owns its parsonage where the pastor, the Rev. H.B. Tiller and Mrs. Tiller live. That home has been repainted on both the inside and outside within the past three years and also completely re-furnished. Two preaching services, Sunday School, and Youth Fellowship meetings are held there each Sunday. The church has a full time program as is planned by the Holston Annual Conference.”
In 1952, Henry N Horton came to serve both Central and Fairlawn for that year, and then only at Central until 1957. His wife, Ilene, was hostess to many of the monthly “class meetings” at the parsonage, serving refreshments to the ladies each time. Crowded as that house must have been with four children, it was a happy household! Rev. Horton was popular with the teenagers who would stop by the church office to visit with him as they walked home from school. 
Radford Methodist Church 1953
Known then as the Sue Hagy Sunday School Class.
They are : 1st Row —Ruth Kirby, Kathleen Ratcliffe, Mrs. H.E.(Beulah)Turman, Allene Rosebery,
 Kathleen Wilson, Pauline Faulkner
2nd Row—Frances Burleson, Josie Simpkins, Nina Morgan, Leona Ratcliffe, ( Unknown),
Ann Miller, Juanita Simpson, Ethel Hagy
These ladies served the meal at the first Methodist meeting of the Methodist men. 
 Methodist Men First Meeting 1953
 Front Row— Kyle M. Bright; Eegar Graham;
Max Rupe; Hugh Miller; Roger Bright; Bill Bullard
2nd Row—Henry Horton, Minister; Roscoe George; Bill Roseberry; Jessee Jones; Ray Farmer; 
A.S. Glenn; Aubrey Ratcliffe; James Ownby; Ted Burleson; Willie W. Ratcliffe
In 1953, the official board voted to relocate the church because the facilities on the corner of Wadsworth and Second Street could not be expanded. In 1955, the present site, on the corner of Wadsworth and Eighth Streets was optioned, purchased, and donated to the church by Mr. A. S. Glenn, a loyal member. The lots were 150 feet by 320 feet and were covered by twenty native oak trees. Trustees were S.T. Dickens, A.S. Glenn, Roscoe George, Edgar Graham, and Leona Ratcliffe. Board members voting were Mrs. Frankye Armentrout, M. F. Hale, Charles Hamby, W. B. Hines, Paul Kenton Bird, Roger Bright, H. J. Miller, Max Rupe, Mrs. Mark Kirby,Ted Burleson, Leslie Phillips, Aubry Ratcliff, Robert Taylor, Miss Kathleen Wilson, L. E. Miles, S. T. Dickens, R. F. George, Glenn Mantz, Ray Farmer, Mrs. W. P. Bullard, Mrs. S. G. Babb, Mrs. Ted Burleson, A. S. Glenn, W. C. Roseberry, and Sanford Jones.
In 1954 Mrs. Harry Anderson, Miss Daphnia Wilson, Mrs. Leona Ratcliffe, Edgar Graham, Mrs. Nina Morgan, R. W. Wrenn, and Franklin Young were added to the board to help plan the new church facility. Mrs. Pauline Faulkner, W. P. Bullard, J. A. Jones, E. K. Riddle, Robert Whitmer, and Mrs. Grace Burgan were added to the board in 1955.
The first of three phases of the building of the new church facility was completed in 1955. This main educational building would be used for Sunday School and Worship.
Rev. Phil F. Ernst, Jr. served as pastor from 1957 until 1963, living in the parsonage with his wife, Jeree, and three children. 
In 1963 the conference assigned James R. Smith (Seen Above at Ground -Breaking) as pastor for Central and he served until 1968. He and his wife, Sue, and two daughters also occupied the parsonage on Fifth Street. There are fond memories of Rev. Smith (Bob), Don Simpson, Bob Whitmer, and Herman Sadler on their knees laying the tile floor in what is now the choir room beside the office!
In 1965 it was decided to build the second phase of the church facilities, the sanctuary, and the Board unanimously voted to accept the offer from Boone & Walsh, General Contractors, to construct it for the amount of $101,950.
On October 22, 1967, Bishop H. Ellis Finger stood in the pulpit and consecrated the new sanctuary to the glory of God. This date also marked the 75th anniversary of Central Methodist Church.
Rev. Jerry Anderson was assigned to Central in 1968, moved with his wife, Martha, and their children, and served until 1976. Jerry loved playing volleyball, and therefore, every social occasion was preceded with at least one game!
In 1971, property was purchased on Ninth and Custis Streets in Forest Park and a new parsonage was constructed there.Trustees at that time were Roscoe George, Herman Sadler, Don Simpson, Dick Price, Carter Effler, and Jim Bennett.
On September 30, 1974, what is commonly known as the Radar property on Ninth and Wadsworth Streets was purchased. The house has been used in a variety of ways such as by the youth, pre-school, and storage. The long-range plan is to raze the house and pave that area in order to have more visible parking space.

The third phase of the building program, the educational wing, was added in 1976.

Typed on onionskin paper was an article entitled “Central Has Consecration Service” “On Sunday, May 9, a Consecration Service was held at the Central United Methodist Church in Radford, Virginia to formally open the new educational wing.

Rev. Roger Hilton (above) led the celebrative worship service…… The new wing consists of a large fellowship hall with  full- length windows, gold drapes, and furnished with round woodgrained tables, green stacking chairs and a portable stage. The kitchen is fully equipped. The ground level has a youth lounge, complete with kitchenette, youth classrooms, and four children’s classrooms. The children’s classrooms are used also for the pre-school weekday program. The rooms are all carpeted and fully equipped. In addition to the new building, a new parking lot was developed to provide parking for sixty or more cars and the original educational building was completely renovated. Those who received special recognition at the Consecration Service were Carter Effler, Howard Hicks, and members of the Building Committee. Dr. Cook for his tireless efforts in behalf The Building Committee consists of Harry Bishop, chairman, Sandy Hill, Donna Saul, Kendall Clay, Bill Goode and Bill Cook.
Dr. Bill Cook- Bill Cook Day! Sunday, May 9th to open Educational Wing.
The highlight of the morning was the proclamation by Annyce Levy, Lay Leader, announcing the day as “Bill Cook Day” in honor of of the building and remodeling program.”
Completed Sanctuary on 8th and Wadsworth
Pictured in the new sanctuary are some of the members who participated in the move
from 2nd Street to the present location on 8th and Wadsworth. 
Rev. Kenneth Henderlight was pastor at this time, and he and his wife, Agnes,   stayed until 1978. Rev. Henderlight was truly a teacher with a vast array of knowledge that he shared with his congregation.
Rev. Cal Maas and his wife, Sony, and their sons came to Central in 1978. Cal had a real zest for life and a passion for gardening! Phyllis Simpson remembers how compassionate he was with her parents, and visited others in the congregation often. (1985 - 1991)   Cal was instramental in getting Central involved in missions.
Rev. Robert L. Irwin and his wife Jane came to Central in 1985 and he served  as pastor until 1987



Central’s first Educational Assistant, Kay Cook, was brought on board during Bob Smith’s tenure and served in that capacity with unending enthusiasm.
Rev. Brent Hall got his assignment to come to Central. Brent, Vicki, and their  family until 1991-1997


Rev. Joe Green came with his wife, Beth, and their daughter, Hannah.  In late 1998, planning for restructuring of the pulpit area was initiated in order to have the choir facing the congregation. Blueprints drawn by Jerry Smith, Architect, were accepted and work started in early 1999.
History of Care Shepherd Ministry at CUMC
At the urging of Pastor Joe Green, Nora McGraw and Gayle Miller attended the Lay Pastors Ministry, Inc. International Conference at Frazer UMC in Montgomery, AL.  It was there that the seeed was planted for Central's Care Shepherd Ministry, a ministry based on Dr. Melvin J. Steinbron's book, "Can the Pastor Do It Alone?"  In October of that year the Administrative Board granted permission for a six month "trial period."
On November 4-5th, 1994, Joe Green, Carl McGraw, Nora McGraw, Kathy Hall, Lou Don Bishop, Gayle Miller, Kay Cook and Patsy McGuire participated in a Care Shepherd equipping Seminar at Saint John's Lutheran Church in Statesville, NC.  Following this experience Brady Collins, Bill Goode, Frances Williams, and Larry Hurt joint the core group and planning for this ministry was started.
Central held its first Equipping Seminar in March, 1995 and had continued to offer at least one Equipping Seminar annually.  Other chruches from teh Wytheville District have been included in some of the seminars which have been a positive additon.
Ideally each family unit in a church has a Care Shepherd and that continues to be our goal at Central.  Each Care Shepherd makes a minimum of one contact a month with thier assigned families.  These contacts may be home visits, phone calls, mailings, e-mail, and talking at church or elsewhere. 
During Joe Green’s tenure, Tony Nix was hired to be Minister to youth and children. He, Nancy his wife, and their children lived in a house they had purchased in Forest Park.
Claudia Gusler was church secretary from 1990 until 2006, giving sixteen years of continuity in that realm.During Joe Green’s tenure, Tony Nix was hired to be Minister to youth and children. He, Nancy his wife, and their children lived in a house they had purchased in Forest Park.
Ernest Mitchell and Bob Jones have been long-time custodians, doing many jobs above and beyond the call of duty in their part-time positions at the church.
In 1995 Rev. Warren H. Wattenbarger was assigned to Central. He and his wife, Mildred, were re-assigned until 1997.
Rev. Curtis McKee cameim 1997.  Curt’s six years filled Central with sounds of music as he played his guitar whenever opportunity presented itself. He, Donna, and their sons, Jared, Jeffrey, Joshua.
Alice Armentrout was hired as music director in January 2000, and she and the choir raised money for handbells, starting that choir in 2002. In the spring of 2001 she started a children’s hand chime choir and a children’s choir. She also directs a youth choir with her contagious enthusiasm.
Central has had a series of outstanding musicians serving in the capacity of choir director, organist, and pianist. Some of those are M.G. White, Lloyd Zurbrig, Pat Brown, Mack Hilton, Lura Alice Robertson, Jennifer Kampfe, Angie Gosney, and Hope McLaughin.  Outstanding youth choirs have been directed by Carter Effler at one time and Mack and Kylene Hilton at another.
There have been Christmas Eve services for years that hold incredible memories for those who have attended. Children and grandchildren look forward to this from year to year as a reminder of what is really all about. Sheila and Melissa Gallimore’s duet of “Oh Holy Night” and John Hilton’s and Diane Montgomery’s solos have been among the most inspiring moments of the services.
Angie Gosney,Hope McLaughin, and Alice Armentrout have presented impressive Christmas concerts on piano and organ for several years, bringing in vocalists and other instrumentalists through the years who were quite outstanding.
In the spring of 2002, Doug and Gail Champion offered Central first refusal in purchasing their property at 506 Eighth Street. This was bought for the price of  $249,500 on May 1, 2002. On December 18, 2002, “the Champion house”, with the lot measuring 0.4798 acres, was sold to Richard W. Davis, Jr. for $260,000. Central retained the remainder of the property at the side and rear of the house for future development. Trustees at this time were Bill Armentrout, John Shelor, Walt Thornton, Bill Fleisher, Sandy Hill, Angie Hill, Eddie Crewes, and Larry Gaby.
In June of 2003 Rev. Charles Lockerby was assigned to Central. He inniated the next stage in the the building program by setting a vision and providing leadership for the future.



Our Worship committee has continued to bless the congregation with their gifts and talents by working diligently in decorating the sanctuary during the different seasons of the year by making wreaths for the entry doors.  Decorating the sanctuary and the entry doors with live greenery by many ladies from the congregation for Advent is a high light of the season.  We always have fresh flowers by the nativity as well as in front of the tomb at Easter.
In June 2002, Lindy Mann was hired as director of Children and Youth. Dale, (Lindy's husband) was very supportive of Lindy and the children and youth of the church. It was also helpful that he served as a driver for the church bus and van (Lindy drove them also) and had an affinity for taking care of them mechanically.
Forward In Faith
On September 22, 2004, the church purchased the house at 900 Berkley Street from St. Jude Catholic Church. This property adjoins the (graveled) parking lot to the rear of the church. Trustees were Eddie Crewes, Larry Gaby, Bill Vinion, Bill Armentrout, Jeff Smith, Gary Collier, Sandy Hill, and Diane Lacy. Presently, the youth are using that house for their Sunday school classes and activities.
Water damage on the wall behind the altar was discovered early in 2005, and the company that had installed the Trinity Window did their repairs prior to replacement of that wall. They also put a protective covering on the exterior of the window (below).
 Trinity Window In Front of Central Sanctuary
Rev. Richard (Ric) Wright served to Central in June of 2006 - June 2010.    A much needed roof was put on the educational wing, a new parking lot built, and the front of the altar area was remodeled. The Rader House was torn down for the construction of a new parking lot. Rev. Wright also brought the church into the 21st century by adding multimedia and creativity to sermons on Sunday morning. 
As the church continued to grow there was a need for a half time congregational care minister.   Pastor Tammy Wright came to central in October of 2008. Rev. Tammy Wright & Rev. Ric Wright served together as the First clergy couple for Central.  Pastor Tammy was also the first female to serve at Central as an appointed clergy from the Holston Conference. She was loved by the shut-ins and her personality was greatly enjoyed.
Don Shelor came to Central in June of 2009 as the Associate Pastor/Pastor of Congregational Care and Visitation and is the first full time associate pastor to serve at Central. He has done an outstanding job reaching out to the shut ins as well as helping with Wonderful Wednesdays and the children's sermon on Sunday Mornings.  He is also responsible for the Sunday evening service called "Evening Glory."
Mike Carter is the new appointed pastor as of June 2010 and comes to us as an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church.  We pray that his ministry will prosper and God will direct him as he ministers at Central UMC.
Updated January 2011

We appreciate Phyllis Gilman of the Wytheville District office who researched records there to identify pastors who have served Central