Centennial Celebration

Published 9:56 am Friday, October 7, 2011

Sebrell United Methodist Church, 1911-2011

SEBRELL—More than 150 attended Sebrell United Methodist Church’s 100th anniversary celebration on Sept. 18.

The event included organ and piano music from the “Old Cokesbury Hymnal.” The program included a performance by a choir with members from Sebrell and Grace, and Prayers of the People with a rendition of “The Lord’s Prayer.”

The Rev. Rita Kanten’s sermon was entitled “Let’s Rock This Church.”

Paul Simmons compiled and read a history of the church. Information came from previous accounts by Evelyn Whitehead, Lucy Siegrist, Peggy Simmons, a 1955 Tidewater News article and from the recently published book, “The Camps of Barn Tavern, Virginia” by S.V. Camp III.

Raised in the church, Bettie Joyce Rowe Hughes moved her membership back home. She and her family gave flowers for the altar in memory of loved ones.

Kanten read the roll call of the Saints from 2011, who included Alice Fowler, June Forrest and Camp. The congregation was asked to say the names of saints who were a part of the church.

After the benediction, lunch was served at Sebrell Community Center. “Buster’s Boys,” named after Buster Cutright and his right-hand men, served the meal.

The history of Sebrell United Methodist Church

Sebrell United Methodist Church lies in the middle of a 16.5-square-mile area on the National Register of Historic places.

The Barn Tavern/Sebrell district is bounded on the west and south by the Nottoway River, the north by Old Hickory Road and the east by the Assamoosick Swamp.

The village of Sebrell was founded in 1905 in anticipation of the Virginian Railroad, which was completed in 1908. Described as a crossroads community, there were mercantile stores, a post office, gas stations, a drug store, an undertaker, a stave mill, a cotton gin, two hotels, a bank and 35 homes.

Sebrell had a Methodist congregation during this time, which held Sunday school and services at “an old storehouse” on Stafford V. Camp’s farm.

In 1911, the congregation decided to build a church in the heart of Sebrell. The land was donated by B.W. Sebrell. The building was designed by B.F. Briggs.

The church had stained-glass windows and a tower to house the bell, which tolled the hours for Sunday School, preaching, Epworth League, and Wednesday night prayer meeting and choir practice.

Carpenters A.V. Denson, Levi Denson, Presley Denson and James Joyner were paid $1.50 per day. At the completion of the construction, they donated back a third of their wages to the church as their contribution to the building fund.

On October 26, 1911, the cornerstone was laid and the Sunday School moved in. Sunday school officers were Superintendent John Turner, Assistant Superintendent B.F. Briggs, Treasurer C.W. Vinson , Secretary E.H. Fretz and organist Mrs. B.W. Sebrell.

The first church trustees were Stafford V. Camp Sr., W.T. Cobb Sr. and B.W. Sebrell.

In 1950, the church was remodeled at a cost of $6,055. The sanctuary’s size was reduced after classrooms were added at the rear of the church. In 1958, two additional classrooms, restrooms, closets, heating system, flooring and carpeting for the sanctuary were installed for $6,000. In 1967, aluminum siding, at a cost of $4,000, was added to the church, and in 1969, air conditioning was added.

In 1976, an extensive remodeling project included carpeting for classrooms, texturing and painting the walls, shutters to windows and improved lighting in the sanctuary.

A fifth chandelier was added in the middle of the sanctuary. It was given by the Camp family in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Stafford V. Camp Jr. The cross in the rear of the pulpit was made and donated by Richard N. Kello III.

In 1990, the congregation voted to install stained-glass windows. The A.&H. Art & Stained Glass Co. of Harmony , N.C., was awarded the contract. To defray the costs, past and present members donated money and dedicated windows to loved ones.