West End Church was started in 1921 in a small store building located behind the home of Mr. & Mrs. J. L. Brinkley on the corner of Davidson and Stone Streets. At that time, the nearest churches were Main Street Methodist, where the Professional Building is currently located, and First Methodist Church on Taylor St, now located on East Sunrise Avenue.
Mrs. Brinkley started a Sunday School class on Sunday afternoons for the neighborhood children, Mrs. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Brinkley Hill said they didn’t have any chairs in the building so they used planks on top of bricks to make benches.
As interest grew and more and more people started attending the church moved across the street to another larger store building, known to many as Everhart’s Store. Mr. Charles Finch, a well-known local businessman, began attending services. Seeing the need for a church in this section of town, Mr. Finch donated a lot on the corner of Lexington Avenue and Moore Street for a Methodist Protestant Church. A building was started immediately. Mr. J. L. Brinkley donated the equipment and materials for digging and pouring the basement, where the Sunday School classes were to be held. The Church was brick and had tall steps leading upwards to the entrance of the Sanctuary. This building was completed in 1925.
In the store building, the Rev.M. L. Moose served as pastor. When the new building was complete, Mr. Finch hired a Methodist Protestant minister, Rev. W.M. Loy to serve the church. In 1928, the congregation joined the Methodist Protestant Conference and then ministers were sent by the conference. West End was on a circuit with First Methodist Church and for a year with Canaan Methodist Church.
The congregation had borrowed the money for the main building and then came the Great Depression! It was hard to keep up the payments on the loan. For years we were just paying the interest.
In 1941, the conference sent a young, energetic Rev. Charles D. White to West End. He motivated the congregation to pay off the mortgage. We held oyster stews, chicken pie suppers and sold all kinds of things to raise the money to pay off the debt. It was finally paid off in the spring of 1943. On May 9, 1943, the mortgage was burned and a dedication service was held with the Bishop Clare Purcell, presiding.
West End was a circuit church until 1944, when Rev. John Oakley became the first full-time minister. West End continued to grow. Property at the rear of the church was purchased in September 1955 and three rooms in the house were used as classrooms. In January of 1958, the church obtained the property joining the church on Lexington Avenue. On March 8, 1958, a groundbreaking service was held at 3:00 p.m. for the educational building on Moore Street. Open house of the building was held on April 5, 1959. We were free of debt by August of 1959 and a dedication service was held at the 11:00 a.m. service on November 1, 1959.
In April 1947, a lot on Moore Street was purchased for the building of a parsonage. This lovely home was dedicated on July 30, 1950. Also a lot that joined the parsonage was purchased on June 4, 1950 for the purpose of building a Church Hut. The hut was dedicated on July 14, 1952.
March 3, 1962 saw another groundbreaking event. Services were held at 12 noon for a new Sanctuary. Work began the following week.
September 29, 1963 at 11:00 a.m. marked the last worship service in the old sanctuary.
October 6, 1963 at the 11:00 a.m. service was the first service held in the new sanctuary. The cost was approximately $75,000 and the church was filled for this service. Just a little information, the Sanctuary and the Educational Building are currently listed on the tax books for $1,167,500.
The indebtedness for the church was paid in full by May 31, 1966. On October 2, 1966, a dedication service was held for this new sanctuary.
On April 21, 1964, a church library was opened for the first time. This library was established and furnished by a friend in memory of Tommy Norton, who was killed in an accident at the age of 7.
The first opening assembly before Sunday School was held June 2, 1974. Obviously this is successful and enjoyed by all members attending.
November 6, 1974 at 6:00 pm was the first time the chimes sounded from the church. Also the original speaker system was installed and completed on November 20, 1974. This was given by Mrs.
Elizabeth Hill in memory of her husband Mr. C. C. Hill who passed away in 1973.
Our first church bazaar was held in 1975.
And West End celebrated the Bicentennial in July 1976.
April 3, 1983, the Bicentennial Bell was presented to the church by Mrs. Nona Hartman in memory of her husband Mr. Jeff Hartman and her brother Clifton McCrary. The bell is a replica of the one that hung in Cokesbury College when it was formed in 1784, the year that the Methodist Church in America was formed.
The senior members of the church formed a senior citizens group called the Sonshine Folks in 1992. The group met monthly and had many wonderful projects. They did fundraisers, had yard sales, bake sales, went on trips and stayed young at heart.
Christmas 1992 was the last year we were able to use a live tree as the Chrismon Tree.
March 31, 1996, new Choir Robes and an Eternal light were dedicated. The light was placed in the church in memory of Lillian B. Suggs, long time Sunday School teacher.
In February 1997, the parsonage located at 228 Moore Street was sold and the money used to purchase a new parsonage located at 213 Moore St. The new parsonage was the former home of Mr. & Mrs. C.C. Hill. The Hill family sold the house to the church to be used for the parsonage.
Rev. Darrell Parris and wife Louise were the first to live in the new parsonage.
In 1998, the members of the church rolled up their sleeves and got us making Chicken Pies as a church fundraiser. The first time resulted in 115 chicken pies to be frozen and sold.
September 1999, a new sign was installed, thanks to donations from church members and their families.
1999 also brought changes to the choir rooms. Both choir rooms were redecorated by Mrs. Margaret Yokeley Norton in memory of her husbands Mr. Joe Yokeley and Mr. Jim Norton.
February 11, 2001, a Wedding Candelabra was dedicated in memory of Chad Smith, who passed away September 11, 2000.
In August of 2006, West End purchased the home of Novella Binkley located beside the educational building for an addition. The house was torn down and grass sown on the lot. There are hopes for a Prayer Garden to be installed on the lot.
We have also upgraded the sound system and wireless microphones purchased.
A new heating and air conditioning system was installed and a new roof on the sanctuary.
West End has always been big in mission projects. In 2010, we started a clothes closet to help the community with gently used clothing items. The closet is open one to two Saturdays each month and clothes are separated into rooms for children, women and men. Clean, gently used clothing items were accepted to stock the rooms. Racks were built it classrooms upstairs in the educational building and church members work in the rooms while the community comes to “shop”. West End also supports Cooperative Community Ministries (CCM) by serving food quarterly and also by having a food donation bin located at the church. We also have different missional projects throughout the year. We help with God’s Will, Inc, a backpack program for local children and their families where donated toiletry items are put into a backpack and distributed to less fortunate children in the schools. The mitten tree is still placed in the Fellowship Hall each Christmas for mittens, gloves, scarves and toboggans for the school children.
Since the founding of West End, we’ve had 38 ministers assigned to our church and have been fortunate to have four members who have become ministers. They are Bill Clinard, Bob Clinard, Hubert Clinard, and William Walker. There have been 111 wedding in the church and over 200 funerals.
Unfortunately, we have lost many members to death. Many of whom were the backbone of the church. It is up to the rest of us to carry on their legacy and carry the church forward. As we celebrate 100 years of West End Church, we hope this glimpse of history brings you back to a simpler time and brings back wonderful memories of your home here at West End.