SAND MOUNTAIN UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
On April first, 1953, a letter was received by H. H. Bodenhamer from the Rev. Joe E Baker, Jr., pastor of The Rising Fawn Circuit suggesting a religious survey of Dade County. He had scheduled a survey of Sand Mountain for April 11, 1953 to meet at the Davis High School. He said he had eight workers to assist in the survey. The pastors of the following churches assisted and were: Rev. Joe E. Baker, Rev. Robert Hilton, Rev. Tony Dyess and Rev. Charles Joe Neely, and Mrs. Essie Gass. From this survey we found 17 people who belonged to Methodist Churches. These names were given to Rev. Baker and it was the belief of the pastors and lay-people that a church was needed on Sand Mountain.
Plans were made by Rev. Robert Hilton to hold church services in the homes of interested families on Sunday afternoons. The first service was held in the home of Mr. and Mrs. H. H. Bodenhamer. All those present agreed to start a collection and at this tine it seemed like we had the prospects of a Methodist Church started. The collection amounted to $4.20 which was used to buy Sunday School literature.
The next meeting was in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Jiles 0. Gass. It was at this meeting that our Church School was organized with the election of Mrs. H. H. Bodenhamer as Superintendent, a position she held for the next eight years. On November 24, 1953 the Dade County Fellowship invited us to attend services at Byrd’s Chapel Methodist Church; to have lunch and to discuss ways they could assist us in organizing our new church. As the year of 1953 ends, the Chattanooga District Board of Missions, under the direction of Dr. Ed Worley, authorizes the “1000 Club”, both in the Metropolitan and Rural areas, to raise money for church extensions.
On December 9, 1953 the Club was endorsed by the Board of Missions and Church Extension. Our group from Sand Mountain worked in obtaining funds for this cause and we received $1,500.00 for the Sanctuary. The Church site was selected by the District Church Location Committee. The property they approved was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Dewey Crisp. Several of the group contacted the Crisps but no decision was given by them. Mr. H. H. Bodenhamer, a life time friend of the Crisp family, volunteered to see if he could get the property. They agreed to sell for $500.00, making a donation of $50.00, which left a balance of $450.00 to be raised.
At this time a tent was erected on the church site. Rev. Robert Hilton conducted church services each Sunday morning at 10:00 o’clock with Sunday School at 9:00 o’clock and with a good attendance. At this time no records were kept.
Rev. Robert Hilton began to make plans for a Revival to be held in July and asked the group to have prayer meetings in homes two weeks before the revival was to start. These services were held the last week of May and the first week of June 1954. The revival began on July 11, 1954 with the Rev. Frank Trotter from Asbury Methodist Church in Chattanooga doing the preaching, assisted by Rev. Hilton. From this revival there were 15 members now in the Church. We purchased 30 Upper Room song books and on August 1, 1954, Dr. E. D. Worley, District Superintendent, mailed the Church plans to H. H. Bodenhamer. Mr. J. 0. Gass was elected the building chairman; work was soon started and we began to see our building grow into a reality.
On August 8, 1954 a Youth Revival was held with Jimmy Short of Birmingham, Alabama, and George Wells of Princeton, Kentucky leading. We also had a Bible School with the help of some teachers from Chattanooga, with a good attendance.
Our services continued in the tent until cold high winds began to blow down the tent most every week. The men folk would have to go early every Sunday Morning to prepare the tent for services. As the winter grew colder we moved into a garage owned by the Crisp family on the lot purchased for the church, where the parsonage stands now. The garage was used for the Simmons family car which was backed out every Sunday in order for our Church School to meet at 9:00 a.m. Church services still were being conducted by Rev. Robert Hilton. We used a pot-bellied stove for heating purposes and sat on plank seats.
Bishop Roy H. Short visited us on one cold Sunday morning and asked us not to become discouraged and thanked us for our unity and work. Our stove was not respectable as we sat with smoke in our eyes and tried to sing. When Dr. E. D, Worley visited us one Sunday, it was so cold he asked us to excuse him if he kept his top coat and hat on. He encouraged us to push forward for the sanctuary. As time went by we moved into the Sanctuary as soon as the roof was completed. The windows were purchased by the members and Mr. Crisp made some benches, which were not too comfortable. So, we brought our own chairs.
In the spring of 1954, a student pastor, Marvin T. Murphy, was appointed to Sand Mountain Methodist Church. Rev. Murphy’s aunt, Mrs. Elizabeth (Thrasher) Whittaker, came down and helped with the singing. She gave us a piano which is still in the church school department.
Ground breaking ceremonies were held on October 24, 1954 by Rev. Marvin Murphy, assisted by Mrs. Dewey Crisp, the oldest member, and Joy Lacy, the youngest.
On November 2, 1954, Rev. Murphy organized a Women’s Society of Christian Service with 13 charter members.
In 1957, under the leadership of Rev. William Pickett a campaign was launched to start an educational building. The work was started that summer under the leadership or Mr. Hilton Long, chairman of the building committee. There was much work left to be done on both the Sanctuary and Educational plans. It was decided to take pledges to raise money to complete the whole building and on August 30, 1959, we held a service of consecration for the finished buildings, under the leadership of Rev. William Pickett and Dr. C. E. Luney, District Superintendent.
The Crisp family has been leaders in the church for all the years, with Innes Crisp Simmons receiving a pin for 25 years of teaching in the children’s division.
Dr. W. C. Daniels, District Superintendent, presided over the Board meeting on October 22, 1963 when we voted to build the parsonage. Under the leadership of Rev. Curtis Schofield a brick ranch style parsonage was built next to the church. It was completed April of 1964. The debt was retired in July 1979, which was the 25th anniversary of the Church. A special service was held and we had a note burning on October 20, 1979 with Rev. James Dugan as the pastor and Rev. Charles Lippse, the District Superintendent. (The above information was compiled from old church bulletins and personal notes handwritten by Florence Bodenhamer, who kept a personal record of church meetings, activities and events during her lifetime. Winoa Bodenhamer.)