A Brief History
of Chatsworth First United Methodist Church
The First United Methodist Church of Chatsworth was formed in 1905 in the new community of Chatsworth, Georgia. Many of the original members came fromHarrison's Chapel, Spring Place, and Mount Zion ME Churches, South. Some of the charter members were Mr. and Mrs. D.F. Peeples, Mr. and Mrs. Jim Stanford, Mr. and Mrs. Jasper Moreland, Mrs. Mary Black, Mrs. Asbury Smith, Mr. and Mrs. John Harris, Mrs. Callie Leonard, Mr. and Mrs. Ervin Baggett, Mr. and Mrs. Sam Kelley, Mrs. J.P. Kelley, and Mr. and Mrs. Alvin Jones. The name of the church was Chatsworth Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The first staff consisted of Pastor G.B. Barton and Music Director Jim Stanford.
The original deed from the Chatsworth Land Company is dated March 27, 1906. The trustees whose names appear on the deed were C.T. Owens, John B. Rouse, and E.C. Dunn. This property is the same property where the sanctuary stands today. The original white frame building stood just to the right of today's sanctuary. That white frame church was brought from the Ball Ground district on wagons pulled by mules. The building was dismantled at its former site, moved to Chatsworth and reconstructed on the property deeded by the Land Company. This building was used until the present sanctuary was completed in 1958.
One of the first recorded budgets found in the church records was dated April 8, 1914. Total collections at that time were $2.74, and expenditures were $2.10, leaving the church with a balance of $0.64. The pastor's salary was set at $446.00 per year at that time.
Church services were held in the beginning only once a month and were increased to twice a month as time passed. Weekly services began in 1954 when the church became a station church instead of a part of a five church circuit.
The need for Sunday School facilities in 1949 brought about the construction of the old education building which originally stood at the rear of the white frame church. This addition included a choir room, Sunday School rooms, fellowship hall, kitchen, and church offices when it was completed. Today this section has become classrooms and a spacious youth facility.
In 1955, after the Rev. Al Bruce came to Chatsworth, the church began a building fund to build a new facility just west of the old building, between the parsonage and the old sanctuary. This building was completed in 1958 with the first service held on August 17 of that year. The value placed on this sanctuary at that time was $121,681.00. Many items were purchased by members as gifts such as pews, baptismal font, chancel chairs, altar rail, communion table, communion service, and stained glass windows.
In the 1980's the need arose again for more Sunday School classrooms and office facilities. The ground was broken for a new EducationalBuilding in December 1986. This building housed the church offices, library, kitchen, fellowship hall, rest rooms, and eight more Sunday School classrooms. In 1990 the sanctuary received a complete renovation, including the modernization of outdated electrical wiring, at the cost of approximately $300,000.
The church has an active youth ministry which began in 1920 with the formation of the Methodist Epworth League. The Epworth League was the forerunner to the United Methodist Youth Fellowship or UMYF. Throughout the many years the youth of the church have had many fund raisers, ski trips, and beach trips along with Bible studies and fellowship times together. In fact, the Epworth League raised the funds for the first piano the church bought. The UMYF today, under the leadership of Adam Tankersley, continues this strong commitment to God that began many decades ago.
The United Methodist Women (UMW) began as the Women's Missionary Society in the 1920's also. The WMS later became the WSCS and then the UMW. The ladies of the church have been a very active group throughout the years in raising funds for mission outreach for the MethodistChurch. Their efforts have provided food, clothing, medical supplies, and many other items for people all over the world.
The Methodist Men's group formed in 1955 to help provide funds and workers for many projects in the community and the church. For many years the Men's club held barbecues to help raise funds for Boy Scouts and other projects. The United Methodist Men's group was inactive for a time, but restarted in 2000. The group now averages about thirty men who meet monthly.
ChatsworthFirstUnitedMethodistChurch continued to grow steadily under the Rev. Furman Norris, who was appointed Pastor Emeritus of the church in 2001. Highlights under his ministry were spiritual development within the church, a well-received "Camp Meeting" with hundreds attending, and the complete renovation of the church sanctuary. Because of illness, Rev. Norris took early retirement, but he continues to be actively involved in the church, along with his wife, Bettie.
Charlz McDonald was pastor from January 1998 to June 2001. During his tenure, the church grew substantially, with a renewed emphasis upon children and youth. A new parsonage was purchased; the Fincher-PannellScoutCenter was built; and the church debt was reduced to near zero.
In June 2001, Rev. Larry Pearson became pastor of the church. Under Larry's leadership, our church continued to grow. In 2004, a house was purchased beside the church to be renovated for church offices for the pastor, the church secretary, and the youth minister, thus giving more room in the EducationalBuildingfor classrooms. Expansion of the church also included our wonderful Fincher Family Life facilities with new classrooms, a new kitchen, and a multipurpose room. Larry retired from the ministry in July 2008 and we wish him and his family the best in their new home.
In July 2008, we welcomed our new pastor, Roger Vest, with his wife Bonnie and children Mary Frances and Grady. We added many new ministries and our church continued to grow as a vital part of God's Kingdom and the community of Chatsworth and Murray County. Some of these ministries include: Saturday Sacks for Kids, building homes for Habitats for Humanity, establishing a clothes closet for children, and many others.
In July, 2013, we welcome Nathaniel & Meridy Long as the newest pastor and parsonage family. Along with their children, Stephen, Susanna, Elizabeth, Nataleigh and Ashleigh, the Longs continue our denominational practice of intinerant pastors. Dating back to the early Circuit Riders, United Methodist pastors move from time to time. We are excited about the possibilities that come with a new pastor and family.
Our purpose is to "Make Disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world."