History of Reynolds Memorial United Methodist Church
Over the past 137 years, Reynolds Memorial United Methodist Church has been known as Bristol City Mission (1880), Mary Street Methodist Episcopal Church, South (1891), Reynolds Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church, South (1929), Reynolds Memorial Methodist Church (1939), and Reynolds Memorial United Methodist Church (1968). Major A.D. Reynolds was one of the founders of the church and was the father of R.S. Reynolds Sr., of Reynolds Metal (inventor of Reynolds Wrap) and the brother of R.J. Reynolds, the founder of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco. The original founders of the church first met in a small cottage behind the present church educational building. After establishment of Bristol City Mission by the Board of Missions at the annual meeting of the Holston Conference of The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in Morristown, Tennessee, October 20, 1880, meetings were conducted in a rented store building. Reynolds Memorial Church has had three other buildings for worship, all being located on the property between Russell and Maple Streets on West Mary Street. The stone portion of the current building was completed in 1920 and the educational wing in 1951.
History of the United Methodist Denomination
The Methodist denomination traces its roots back to 1739 where it developed in England as a result of the teachings of John Wesley. While studying at Oxford, Wesley, his brother Charles, and several other students formed a group devoted to study, prayer and helping the underprivileged. They were labeled “Methodist” by their fellow students because of the way they used “rule” and “method” to go about their religious affairs.
The beginning of Methodism as a popular movement began in 1738, when both of the Wesley brothers, influenced by contact with the Moravians, undertook evangelistic preaching with an emphasis on conversion and holiness. Though both Wesley brothers were ordained ministers of the Church of England, they were barred from speaking in most of its pulpits because of their evangelistic methods. They preached in homes, farm houses, barns, open fields, and wherever they found an audience.
Wesley did not set out to create a new church, but instead began several small faith-restoration groups within the Anglican church called the “United Societies.” Soon however, Methodism spread and eventually became its own separate religion when the first conference was held in 1744.
Several divisions and schisms occurred throughout Methodism’s American history. In 1939, the three branches of American Methodism (the Methodist Protestant Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church, and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South) came to an agreement to reunite under the name “The Methodist Church.” This 7.7 million member church prospered on its own for the next twenty-nine years, as did the newly reunited Evangelical United Brethren Church. In 1968, bishops of the two churches took the necessary steps to combine their churches into what has become the second largest Protestant denomination in America, The United Methodist Church.
What We Believe