The History

 

The earliest recollection of a church in Etowah was of a small frame structure called Belew’s Chapel, located two miles from the present site. Callie Robertson tells us that one day when picking huckleberries with her mother up on the hill where the Pine lake subdivision now stands, they came across the church ruins and her mother told her, “This is where we used to worship before we built the new building.”

The new building was of white frame construction and was completed in 1907 at the present site on fourteen acres of donated land. A new name went with the new building – Etowah Methodist Episcopal Church. Since the community had no public school building the church opened its doors every weekday for the school children. The first preachers were also teachers. A wood burning stove warmed the place and kerosene lamps provided light. It was the ladies Aid Society that raised money through ice cream socials and the sale of homemade quilts that provided the first electric lights.

In the early days the preacher traveled about the circuit in a horse drawn buggy. When the roads and weather would not permit this, he came by horseback. Worship services were held on Saturday night and Sunday morning only once a month because of the large circuit. Through the ensuing years Etowah Church was grateful to students and teachers from Brevard College who filled the pulpit.

In 1953 such a low point in church attendance was reached that the District Superintendent recommended to the Bishop that the church be closed. However, upon appeal to the Bishop, a Pastor was assigned and the church began to grow. A year later the Women’s Society of Christian Service started a building fund from the proceeds of the church’s first fund-raising supper. Others made and sold thousands of cupcakes, pies and candies at the Ecusta paper Mill in Brevard. In 1957 when sufficient funds were available, brick masons, carpenters, plasterers, and other skilled members volunteered their labor the church renovation which included an addition and adding brick veneer to the existing wood frame building.

The five point Brevard Circuit comprised of Etowah, Horse Shoe, Selica, Rosman and Lake Toxaway was dissolved in 1962. Etowah and Horse Shoe (Cummings UMC) became a two point charge. In 1975 our church voted to “go it alone.” The first full time minister was appointed in 1976.

The 1980’s saw tremendous growth in Henderson County and the Etowah area. In 1981 a Long Range Planning Committee was convened resulting in a Three Phase Building Plan to increase space for worship, education and fellowship. With the help of the Duke Endowment for the first phase, our present sanctuary was completed. Groundbreaking for the next two phases was on May 12, 1985. These included the fellowship hall with modern kitchen, pastor’s office, the present choir room and renovations of existing Sunday School rooms.

With the continual growth of the Sunday School program the church was faced with the need of additional classrooms. (We just couldn’t have a Sunday School class meeting in the kitchen!) It took courage to take on a $231,000 debt after just paying off an extensive building program, but there is a quality about the people of Etowah UMC. They always rise to the occasion.

On Sunday, October 14, 1990, we moved into the new wing which consists of seven classrooms, two nurseries, office and a large multi-purpose room downstairs. It didn’t take long to fill all the classrooms – Sunday School average attendance is approaching 120. With our new building the church extended its ministry to the community by opening the Loving Hands Child Care Center on January 6, 1992. We also sponsor an active scouting program, and AA holds several meetings each week.

In 2004-2005 the Long Range Planning Committee recognized the need to acquire more land adjacent to the existing current property. Several neighbors owning adjacent properties were approached, but no deals were reached. Our attention then turned to improving existing church buildings. After several presentations to the congregation, it was agreed to create a new, greatly expanded Narthex; create a new office for the church administrator; create a new office for the associate pastor; remodel the church’s side entrance and add additional classroom/multi-purpose space adjacent to the fellowship hall. All of this construction was undertaken and completed in 2008.