The history of Asbury United Methodist Church demonstrates time and time again that its cornerstones are those of biblical faith, persistent prayer, willing submission, and an abiding strength that comes from knowing its worth in God’s eyes. Those building blocks supported the founders, lifting them up as pioneers for over a hundred year journey of struggle and victory, breathing life and godly purpose first into the small black community and then, blessedly, into any soul that sought the one true Savior.
Although many of the original records/history of the church were destroyed during the house fire of Richard White in the early fifties, records indicate that our original church name was Pine Grove Methodist Episcopal Church.
April 10, 1890 Richard White along with Jerry Gamble, Willis Harris, Chuck Fulmore, Watis McCullough, Henry Starch and Soloman Flagler, trustees of Pine Grove Methodist Episcopal paid the sum of eight dollars to WJ Morris for one half acre of land to build the church. F.R. Graham and J.S. Alston witnessed the signing of the sale-of-purchase.
The Methodist Episcopal Church, sometimes referred to as the M.E. Church, was a development of the first expression of Methodism in the United States. It officially began at the Baltimore Christmas Conference in 1784, with Francis Asbury and Thomas Coke as the first bishops. In the early 19th century it became the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S., and is now second to the Southern Baptist Convention. In 1939 it merged with the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and the Methodist Protestant Church to form the Methodist Church. In 1968 it merged with the Evangelical United Brethren Church to form the present United Methodist Church. Pine Grove Methodist Episcopal church was a member of the Black River Circuit of the Charleston District.
On February 23, 1973, L Junior Graham along with Marvin McCutchen, Felder Graham, Joseph McCullough, Walter Graham, Leroy White, Ben Jackson, James Graham, and Freeland White, trustees of the church went to the court house to have the name on the property changed since the name of the church was now known as Asbury United Methodist Church.
Asbury was blessed with several pastors during the years. Rev Wilson, Rev Barr, Rev John N. Boone and Rev. Bowens served the church well in the early years. Rev Wallace Graham served as pastor from 1966-1968. Rev Woodrow Singletary took the helm in 1969 and served until 1971. After Rev. Singletary, Rev Joseph McAlister became pastor and served until 1973. It was under the leadership of Rev McAlister that the property was officially deeded as Asbury United Methodist Church. Rev Matthew Brown became the pastor in 1973 and served until 1980. During his era, the Educational hall was added to the church. In 1980 Rev Benjamin Moses became the pastor of Asbury and served until 1986. Our longest serving pastor to date, Rev. Edward McLeod, served from 1986 until 1998. Rev Sam Lucas served from 1998 to 2002. In 2002 Rev. Alfred Griffin became the pastor and served until 2006. He was the first full time pastor and the first pastor the church provided a parsonage for. (The church rented the parsonage of Mt. Lebanon in Andrews, SC for Rev. Griffin and his family.) The church was totally re-carpeted during this time. Rev. Eddie C. Thomas served as pastor from 2006-2008. The new altar was installed during his tenure. Rev. DeBerry Cook became the first female pastor for the church in 2008 and served until 2010. Rev. William Simon James served as pastor for 2010 until he retired in 2013. The new edifice was constructed and consecrated under the leadership of Rev Jerry L. Dicks . The church is now under the direction of Rev. Hazel Epps.
Asbury has seen many changes during the years. In 1954, hurricane Hazel demolished the church. The men of the church pulled together to rebuild the church to its prior state. They would gather together to work on the church after completing a day of their own work. Church services were held at the Warsaw School until the new church was built.
Many of our pastors are remembered by a signature line:
Rev Sam Lucas – Can I get Amen?
Rev Alfred Griffin – Boomshackalacka!
Rev Eddie Thomas – Ya’ll Better Hear This.
Rev Deberry Cook – Get Ready, Get Ready, Get Ready.
Rev William S. James – I Feel My Help Coming Now.
Rev Jerry Dicks – There Is A Word From The Lord.
Rev Hazel Epps – Asbury, I Love You.
During the years the conference has assigned different sister churches to Asbury. The pastors have had to serve as many as four churches at one time. Rev Sam Lucas was the last pastor to serve at three locations. He traveled as many as 30 miles between Asbury and St. Mary to preach on Sundays. Bethel has served as our longest sister church.
Prior to 2004, full service was held on the first and third Sundays. In 2004, the members decided to have a full service every Sunday. Since our pastor served at two churches, the service on the second and fourth Sundays were held at 9am. This worked well since Rev. Griffin was a full time pastor.
March 4, 2003, Harry Greggs along with Herbert Graham, Kenneth White, Eva Julious, Keira Session, Thomas Brown, Jimmie Graham, Vera Harris and Joseph Travoy McCullough, the trustees purchased 2 tracts of land for the future site of Asbury United Methodist Church. One tract was 6.96 acres and the other tract was 1.25 acres. The land cost $38,000. The property is located on hwy 527 near the railroad tract next to the Morrisville road. In April 2017, the congregation moved into the new sanctuary located at 9561 Thurgood Marshall Hwy. The consecration was held on May 28, 2017. Rev. Curnell Graham shared the message. Rev. Jerry L. Dicks was the current pastor.
Asbury has had many choirs throughout the years including the junior choir, the community choir, the children choir, the Valentine singers, the male choir, the young adult choir but the senior choir continues to carry on. They celebrated their 69th anniversary in 2017. Bernard McClary is the longest serving musician. He served from 1980 to 2017. He has played for many choirs and worship services. Rev Hazel L. Epps became the pastor in July 2017 and continues to lead the flock.
Asbury continues its mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.