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Circuit Riders
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METHODIST CHURCH RECORDS AND HISTORIES

  • Bethesda Southern Methodist Church
    Located at Oak Grove; organized c. 1850
  • Beulah Methodist Church
    Originated as Ivey's Methodist Church near Clio, Marlboro County. In 1885 the church divided and the new church, Beulah, moved east on the road to Little Rock.
  • Bowling Green United Methodist Church
    Located on Route 1, Dillon; organized in 1856
  • Dothan Methodist Church
    Located near Latta; Originated in 1786 as Bethea's Meeting House
  • First United Methodist Church
    Located in Latta; organized in 1889
  • Hopewell Methodist Church
    Located on Hwy.41, Fork, SC
  • Main Street Methodist Church
    Located in Dillon, SC; organized 1892
  • Manning's Chapel United Methodist Church
    Now located at Bingham; originated about 1840 and was located on the plantation of Melea Manning
  • Mount Andrew United Methodist Church
    Located at Floydale, originated as the Buck Swamp Society c. 1786
    Cemetery
  • Oakland United Methodist Church
    Located 1/2 mile from NC line, Oakland Community, SC
    Cemetery
  • St. Paul's Methodist Church
    Located at Little Rock, SC; Formerly Liberty Chapel, originated in 1786
    Cemetery - Partial
  • Shiloh United Methodist Church
    Located at Fork, organized 1810
    Cemetery
  • Union Methodist Church
    Cemetery

For additional information on South Carolina Methodist church records, you may wish to visit the Wofford College Archives website:
Sandor Teszler Library, The South Carolina United Methodist Collection
(Look under Unique Collections for Methodist Collection)

"The records of the South Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church are housed in the Archives. These records, which date from 1785, include the minutes of the sessions of the Annual Conference as well as the conference newspaper, the Southern Christian Advocate. The Methodist Collection also has an index of the obituaries appearing in the Advocate from 1837 to the present.

The Methodist Collection is the official repository for the records of Conference agencies and holds the records of a number of South Carolina Methodist churches, an index of appointments to churches in the conference from 1785 to 1954, and published histories of the conference and a number of churches."
Source: Wofford College

Please note that some obituaries from the Southern Christian Advocate newspaper are searchable on the Wofford library site: SCA Obituary Search Page .

As of August 2000, surnames beginning A through F had been extracted and placed in their database. On a recent visit to the web site (March 2014), I did not spot a limitations note.

The Circuit Riders of the Methodist Church in Early America

John Wesley's Methodist plan of multiple meeting places called "circuits" required a force of preachers willing to travel to, or make a circuit of, the congregations in their charge. A circuit was made up of two or more local churches (sometimes referred to as societies) in early Methodism. A pastor would be appointed to the charge, or circuit, by his bishop. During the course of a year the minister was expected to visit each church on the charge at least once, and possibly start some new ones. At the end of a year the pastors met with the bishop at annual conference, where they would often be appointed to new charges. A charge containing only one church was called a station. The traveling preachers responsible for caring for these societies, or local churches and stations, became known as circuit riders, or sometimes saddlebag preachers. They traveled light, carrying their belongings and books in their saddlebags. Ranging far and wide through villages and wilderness, they preached daily or more often at any site available be it a log cabin, the local court house, a meeting house, or an outdoor forest setting. Unlike the pastors of settled denominations, these early Methodist preachers were constantly on the move. Their assignment was often so large it might take them 5 or 6 weeks to cover their circuit. Francis Asbury (1745 - 1816), the founding bishop of American Methodism, is said to have traveled 270,000 miles and preached 16,000 sermons as he traveled the circuits.

Peter Cartwright (1785-1872) described the life of the circuit rider in his Autobiography: "A Methodist preacher, when he felt that God had called him to preach, instead of hunting up a college or Biblical Institute, hunted up a hardy pony, and some traveling apparatus, and with his library always at hand, namely, a Bible, Hymn book, and Discipline, he started, and with a text that never wore out nor grew stale, he cried, 'Behold, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.' In this way he went through storms of wind, hail, snow, and rain; climbed hills and mountains, traversed valleys, plunged through swamps, swollen streams, lay out all night, wet, weary, and hungry, held his horse by the bridle all night, or tied him to a limb, slept with his saddle blanket for a bed, his saddle-bags for a pillow. Often he slept in dirty cabins, ate roasting ears for bread, drank butter-milk for coffee; took deer or bear meat, or wild turkey, for breakfast, dinner, and supper. This was old-fashioned Methodist preacher fare and fortune."

Bibliography:

  • The Journal and Letters of Francis Asbury. Elmer T. Clark, ed.
    (Nashville, TN, Abingdon Press, 1958)

  • Francis Asbury, the Prophet of the Long Road. Tipple, E. S.
    (The Methodist Book Concern 1916.)

  • Cartwright, Peter, Autobiography of Peter Cartwright
    (Abingdon Press 1956)

  • If Saddlebags Could Talk Maser, Frederick and Simpson, Robert Drew
    (Providence Press 1998. )

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