Sundays in Dunmore in 1891 were much different than they are today. Parishioners at the newly dedicated Moore Memorial Church arrived on horseback or by wagon. The circuit riding preacher would give a sermon and, after church services, the parishioners would have a picnic lunch before returning home.
One hundred and twenty-five years later, September 11, 2016, parishioners in Dunmore celebrated the lives of those who have gone before them, and the history of the church, now known as Dunmore United Methodist Church.
In slightly similar fashion, the parishioners arrived with the help of horsepower, in their motor vehicles; Reverend David Fuller delivered a sermon before leaving to do the same at Arbovale United Methodist Church; and after church services, parishioners – joined by friends, family and Arbovale UMC members – held a picnic in the William Dilley Memorial picnic pavilion.
While many things have changed in more than a century, there are a few things that are still the same. Community members gather each Sunday to recap the week and join their voices in prayer and hymns as they worship together.
Last Sunday, church members gathered as usual, to worship and celebrate.
Thirty-five year Dunmore UMC member and church historian Dorothy Johnson gave a brief history of the building and its members.
“This church was built in 1890 and 1891 and was dedicated in August 1891,” she said. “It was called the Moore Memorial Church. At that time, the Methodist church was divided in the north and the south, and this church was in the south. The land was donated by the Moore family, and they were all gone by the time I got here. There may be some of you still related to them.”
In 1991, the sanctuary was remodeled with a lowered ceiling and repainted benches.
“As many of you remember, we had those old hard board seats, and they were not a bit comfortable,” Johnson said.
When Green Bank United Methodist Church closed in January 2002, Dunmore not only inherited pews and altar pieces, it inherited members, as well.
Johnson added that the church has grown and declined as many do, but it has always held firm in the community.
In the 2000s, the sanctuary received another small face-lift with new pew cushions and carpeting.
During Sunday’s church service, the youngest members gave a presentation on how life in the community has changed since 1891.
Dressed in typical 1800s clothing, the kids shared several aspects of life and how they have changed.
“In 1891, they had a picnic after church,” Luke Gainer said. “Sometimes the preacher would come for lunch, but now we don’t have time for that.”
“In 1891, most clothes were made by hand, but now, most people can’t even thread a needle,” Khloe Gainer said.
“In 1891, there were very few doctors, so Mom would stitch you up at home, but now you can go to the doctor whenever you want, even twenty-four, seven,” Olivia Hamilton said.
“In 1891, toys were very basic and appreciated by kids,” Aaron Hamilton said. “Now we have so many toys, we can’t play with them all.”
“In 1891, they rode horses and wagons, and now we have trucks, cars, motorcycles and bikes,” Wade and Reed Garber said.
The youngsters, with the assistance of Courtney Gainer and Ben Fuller, also showed their appreciation for Reverend David Fuller, saying, “he liked us so much, he came back twice.” Fuller served Dunmore from 1991-1999 and returned in 2008. Ben presented his dad with a wooden toy truck as a gift from the children.
After the service and picnic, the congregation unearthed the time capsule buried during the 100th anniversary celebration.
As the children excitedly gathered around, it became apparent that the glass jar used for the capsule was broken. Sherry Chestnut and Scott Garber helped the youngsters safely unearth the contents, which were soaked through with water and mud.
Despite the damages caused by the elements, they were able to identify several items from the time capsule, including Polaroid photos, editions of The Pocahontas Times and The Inter-Mountain, and pages of Sunday School books.
The congregation buried a new time capsule – this time, a Rubbermaid plastic container – with new items.
The celebration culminated with musical entertainment provided by Homer Hunter and the church choir.
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org