News from the Tennessee Valley Religion

Hartselle's West End Church to mark 50 years

By Melanie B. Smith 340-2468

Faithful volunteers helped a tiny group of believers in west Hartselle start a church years ago.

West End United Methodist Church will celebrate a half-century Oct. 28 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

West End's beginnings date to Oct. 31, 1954, when volunteers from Hartselle First United Methodist Church led a meeting in the community. Two girls came to the first gathering, which was held in a rough building.

Worship services held Friday nights drew more people. Then a revival in a tent helped the group get more organized. They added an after-school Bible class for children and then church school.

The meeting place continued to be what history writer Naomi Moore, an early member who taught children, called a "covered shell of a building." Moore said Sunday school classes met in the four corners of the building with a fifth class in the center.

"When it rained there was such a din on the roof that discourse was nigh impossible," she said.

Current member Mary Townsend said she remembers how rain would drown out everyone.

A revival led by the Rev. Robert Heaps in April 1956 resulted in an organizational meeting on April 20. The Rev. E.M. Barnes Jr. of First Methodist agreed to be the first pastor. The congregation soon sought a home of its own.

"From the beginning everyone realized that the metal building was only a makeshift meeting place. It never seemed quite right to call such a building 'our church,' but at the time it was the best that could be done," Moore wrote.

However, West End, Hartselle First and the district's board of missions worked together to buy two lots on St. Clair Street for $1,000. John Cooper and his wife gave half of the price. Henry McAbee, Asburry Moore, G.W. Puckett and Eleanor Bishop served as a building committee. They worked with three people from First Methodist, Hoyt Groover, Luther Roberts and Ernest Maddox.

By Easter Sunday 1957, the congregation had a $10,000 new block building.

West End will mark the 50th anniversary of that building Oct. 28. Former pastors will speak.

In addition to Barnes, the four women who went from First Methodist to start West End were Mrs. C.I. Lee, Mrs. Owen Lyle, Miss Carrie Teague and Mrs. G.W. Puckett.

Men called to preach from West End were Jim Newcombe, Harold Thompson, Ben Shelton, Pat Halbrooks and John Wallace. The Rev. Ron Ozbolt is the current pastor. For more information on the event, call Townsend at 773-9630.

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