History of Our Church
The Palmyra Story
Although Palmyra United Methodist Church was established in 1830, its heritage dates to a much earlier time in American Methodism. Palmyra UMC is a continuation of the old Broken-Back Meeting House, which was the site of the regular Annual Conference of American Methodist Preachers in 1779. With America in the midst of a Revolution, current political tensions placed American Methodists in a tenuous position, particularly when John Wesley, their mentor, made a vocal stand against the Revolution.
However, these political tensions did not bring on the crisis of 1779. The issue of sacramental ordinances was the catalyst. Preachers and circuit riders of American Methodism were not yet ordained and therefore, could not administer the sacraments nor could American Methodists go to the Anglican churches for these sacraments as they had in the past. In addition, it did not seem that John Wesley would be able to make arrangements to provide for this urgent need.
While in a “preparatory meeting,” the northern preachers took the advice of Francis Asbury to wait until the political situation improved and thereby allowing Wesley to act, the Southern preachers, gathering at the Fluvanna Conference, decided to act, citing “critical circumstances” as their justification. Their solution arranged for the sacraments in a manner that was in direct contradiction to Wesley and Asbury – creating dissension in the Church. One year later, the Southern preachers desisted thereby restoring peace in the Church. With the War’s end, Northern and Southern preachers reconciled with The Christmas Conference of 1784 providing a solution for everyone.The schism formed in 1779 was to have effects that reached well into this century.
The original brick church building was erected on the court green around 1840 and served many purposes. During the Civil War, the building was used as a hospital. Fifty years later, a severe crack developed in the back wall of the building causing the building to be condemned and destroyed. As a result, the congregation was without a place of worship for a period of time. The congregation met in various buildings in the village of Palmyra until they were able to gather the resources to begin construction of a new building in 1888. Our simple, white frame building that continues to stand has been expanded many times over the years to fill growth needs.
Along with the sanctuary building, there is a fellowship hall building which is home to many fellowship events and learning experiences. Sunday School was and still is a vital part of our ministry. This building was originally built in the 1950s, and we are currently considering expanding the building. It is used for congregational events and for community events. We believe that we should reach out to the world, and we do this in many ways including opening our buildings.
The two buildings are connected by a breezeway. This breezeway is dedicated to Callie Gallery. Ms. Gallery was a member of the congregation and gave the money for the breezeway to be erected in 1975. For many years the congregation was a part of a larger pastoral charge in which a pastor served multiple congregations. In 2001, the congregation made a decision to become a “station” church which means that they are one church served by one pastor.