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Matton's Grove United Methodist Church

 Matton’s Grove History

The historic church was organized in 1868. Land for a camp meeting, church and cementery was given by Gorite and Leddie Noah Selle. The first services were held in a brush arbor. At the time, the blacks and whites were in one conference. In 1870 the blacks and whites split into two conferences. Later a tent-type building with open sides was erected and used for worship. Camp meetings, which lasted a week to two weeks, were held each summer after the crops were “laid by.” Cabins were built to house those who wished to remain on the grounds for the duration of the meeting. These cabins were located to the left of the church as you camp down the hill. Many came in buggies and wagons with their families. There was eleven o’clock service as well as a service at night. Such crowds came that many had to sit on the lawn or stand at the windows to hear the service.

 It was customary in those early days for the men and boys to sit on the right side, and the women and girls to sit on the left side. The same rule was followed in the listing membership. Men and boys were on one page, and women and girls were on another. One of Matton’s Grove’s 1873 record books reveals this fact. The names that made up the rolls over a hundred years ago resemble the roll call today. A sampling reads like this: Selle, Culp, Earnhardt, Barringer, Sides, Wagoner, Smith, Troutman, Plyler, Honeycutt and Redwine. 

The presiding elder of the Eastern District of the Methodist Episcopal Church in High Point was W.G. Matton (1830-1901). This is the conference we belonged to and Rev. Matton served in many important positions in this  conference. Rev. Matton was born in Herford, England. In the fall of 1871, following a successful eight day meeting at Chandler’s Grove in Montgomery County, he crossed the Yadkin River and traveled to Matton’s Grove. During this time, he dedicated the first Methodist Episcopal Church building to be erected in Stanly County (Wesley Chapel was in the Southern Episcopal Conference). It was especially memorable to Matton’s Grove because the church was named for him and remains a monument to him today. He is buried in High Point. Matton’s Grove is the oldest and strongest Methodist Episcopal Church in Stanly County.

 The white historic church that Rev. Johnnie Hawkins used to call our “Mother Church was built in 1898. These are some facts about the Historic Church that were from notes, documents and talks with Carl & Edna Sells, Annie Laura Misenheimer, Don Williams, Alva & Bob Sells, Joyce Cody, and Gary Sells. The following are descriptions from them about facts about the Historic Church. They remembered facts or were told things by their parents. The church then had two front doors on the front side of the church. Gaslights with tin behind them were on the walls. A wood-burning pot-bellied stove heated the church, which sat on the right side of the church. The original benches were slatted benches. The wooden-beaded ceiling was painted white. The glass windows were painted white. 

Harrison Miller, accompanied by sons Bob and John, traveled to Harris Granite Works in Granite Quarry, North Carolina, to purchase a beautiful piece of granite for the cornerstone. It is located at the front left corner of the church foundation. In the early 1900’s the Ladies Aid Society ordered a clock from the local mail carrier. Ernest Ritchie sent the mail order. The clock cost $3. This clock is on our front right wall in our present brick church. A pump organ was put in the church.  Songbooks had words but no music. John Miller was our first organist. Mrs. Annie Williams played after John. Later her children, Grey and Annie Laurie Williams played their violins for services. Later, a piano replaced the pump organ. Gary remembers Charlie Selle’s son Junior Selle played the piano.

 Several years after the church was built, Mr. Bob Miller went to Salisbury with a wagon to get a black bell for the church. It was placed on a wooden stand on the ground near the church.

 In 1923, the church was remodeled again, and the bell tower and steeple were added to the church.  The bell was then removed from the wooden stand and placed in the bell tower. The bell tolled the number of times to denote the hour of a funeral service and the age of the deceased. 

In 1939-40 power came to our community. The lights that are in the church now are the original electric lights that were hung in the church.

 From 1946-48 the church was remodeled. A double door replaced the two front doors. The altar was moved forward and three Sunday school classrooms were added behind the altar. The altar railings were removed at this time. Mrs. Pearl Wiles’ brother in Salisbury on Innes Street made the altar. 

A white lighted cross was made for the back of the altar. Church Superintendent, Grey Williams said, “Something has to be done with the flooring because we can see the ground.” Pine flooring was covered over by hardwood floors. Men of the church did this carpenter work. Carl mentioned the carpenters helping were Collie Barringer, Sid Culp, Wes Sells, Grey Williams, Hubert Sells, and Henry Sells. Sid Culp stood the old benches on end to add a new dropped ceiling with tiles. They replaced the pot-bellied stove with two gas furnaces. Grey Williams went with Carl Sells to Lexington to get the green glass to make the new stained glass windows. The boys Don Williams and Gary Sells got to go along with their dads. Carl Sells went with Grey Williams to Carriker’s in Midland to order new benches and chairs for the church. Gary and Don got to go on trips with them to order and check on the work being done. Carriker’s delivered the furniture to the church after several months. Each bench Carl said cost $50.00. Families donated money to buy benches. Josie Sells agreed to buy two benches because she had a job and was not married at the time. There were long benches for the congregation and short benches for the choir and Amen section. 

From our membership several ministers have come. Robert Selle, who joined The Blue Ridge Conference in 1885, was appointed to the New River Circuit in Watauga; Eli Selle, his brother was a minister in the Matton’s Grove community; Burton Culp, who was born in Cabarrus County in 1860, attended our church in earlier years. Burton Culp help found First Methodist Church in the Winston-Salem district; S. A. Earnhardt, D. I. Earnhardt, and W.C. Cruise all later became ministers. 

Rev. Leory Scott was our minister in 1945. During his leadership we joined with Wesley Chapel to have Bible school in the morning. He helped organize a Scout program. 

Hubert Sells, Henry Sells, and Grey Williams built new pulpit furniture in Hubert’s garage in 1949. These same benches and pulpit furnishings are in the Historic Church today. The chimneys were rebuilt and some of the wirings was replaced in the church. Thayer Sells, Grace Williams and Ann Williams made white altar cloths from communion Sunday. The cloths were made of linen. They were used many times and are still beautiful.

 Rev. Jack Smith (1945-54) started the first MYF. Opel Sells was the first Counselor. In 1954-55 the men built a hut across front the church. This was used as a fellowship hall. It contained one big room, a kitchen and two bathrooms. The fellowship room was used as a place for classes, suppers, meetings and later homecoming.

 In the mid 1960’s, Henry Sells worked in Bob and Alva Sells’ new basement to cover the pulpit furniture seats with red velvet.  Alva remembers this and also helping Hallie and Thayer to make new altar cloths of red velvet. The Women’s Society paid for these. Several of the women went to Salisbury to by the red velvet and the gold fringe cord to go on the cloths. The symbols were ordered from the Methodist Ordering House. These cloths are still on the pulpit furniture today. The brass cand le holders and vases on the alter were ordered by the Women’s Society.

 In 1963 Rev. Earl Cook started our first offices in the church. He started the children’s “March of Change” during worship services. At his urging, a building committee was formed to begin fund raising for a new santuary. Farming projects, such as raising cane to make molasses, and having chicken noodle and dumplings suppers were some of the projects. 

In 1970 the men of the church added three classrooms to the hut. A large classroom upstairs and two classrooms downstairs in a basement were added to the existing building.

In 1975-76 Mr. George Little and his construction company built our new brick church. Mr. Little was blind, but built many churches and homes throughout Stanly County. Pictures were made of all those attending the Ground Breaking Ceremony on January 26, 1975. The hut and basement classrooms were connected by a new pastor’s study to the new church and new basement classrooms, kitchen and bathrooms. Our first services was held at the new church on Feburary 15, 1976. The note for the mortgage was burned in a ceremony in the 1980’s with Rev. Jerry Watts, building chairman Jim Huneycutt and chairman of the board Bradford Barringer.

 In 1997-98 the men and women of the church, BRS employees and visitors renovated the Historic Church again. Workers of the church painted the church building; put a bell in the tower that was given by Paul Eagle (from the schoolhouse in Misenheimer).  Vic McIntyre from Statesville refinished the hardwood floors. Men and women of the church took out the celotex tiles and left the original beaded ceiling; filled the cracks and painted the ceiling, walls and mouldings; cleaned the benches and pulpit furniture; replaced broken lights with ones our of classrooms and replaced broken green stained glass panels. Matt Barringer and men from B.R.S. repaired the front steps and entry flooring. New red carpet was added to the aisle and the altar. New candle holders were bought by Joise Norton and new vases were bought by Bob and Alva Sells. Rev. Darrin Everhart and speaker Rev. Johnnie Hawkins held a 100-year celebration on June 1998. Mrs. Kelley Huff and the Youth Sunday School Class filled a time capsule with letters, pictures and other items to be opened in 50 years. It is located at the front of the old church near the cornerstone. The service was enjoyed by members, former members and visitors. All commented on the full congregation and the wonderful sounding music. 

The church is still used today for special church services, funerals, and weddings. We love our new brick church, but we are proud to have restored and maintained the Historic Church. Since our last directory, we have lost many of our members. Some have been due to moving, some due to changing churches and some due to death. We miss these people, but we hope we keep getting new members throught marriage, births and friends. We also have gained some new members due to moving in our community. We are proud of our heritage and new growth. The nine years since our last directory, we have had many exciting and wonderful things happen in our church. Missions for others have been our goal. We sponsor a monetary amount every month for someone or some group in need. We sponsor a missionary in Brazil and Cambodia every month. Bob and Alva Sells, Ken and Elsie Lowder, Keith Frick and Rev. Tony Bowman have gone on Building Teams. Some of the countries they have helped were Mexico, Puerto Rico, Jamaica and Cambodia. We have six who deliver meals monthly to senior citizens in need. We have started Wonderful Wednesdays with a meal and a program. We still have Bible School and a Summer Adventure program for the children and youth. We have an active Senior UMYF led by counselors Nikki Russell, Phillip and Ashley Hightower, and Billy and Monica Talbert. We have fun and fellowship at our Fall Festival in October with Bingo, cook-outs and hay rides. We have Bible study every fourth Wednesday. We have an active United Methodist Women and Methodist Men groups that meet monthly. The men of the church have started a firewood ministry. The men cut , split and deliver firewood to families in the community who use firewood as their source of heat during the cold winter months. Ray Isenhour, Lynne Misenheimer and men in our church have played an active role in the firewood ministry. Several of the Sunday School classes take retreats to rejuvenate and plan for the year. We have Community Songfests, Birthday Celebrations, Ice Cream Suppers, an Easter Sunrise Service followed by breakfast together, and Thanksgiving Service with dedication of our Samaritain’s Purse shoe boxes, a Hanging of the Greens Service, Christmas Caroling to our Rest Homes, Shut-ins, or elderly, a Christmas Eve program given by our children and youth, Promotion Sunday, and a New Years drop-in Communion Service, On June 16, 2007 the senior UMYF presented 74 bibles to the church to be put in the pews for members to use for worship services. We are proud of our Christian heritage and the many wonderful memories of past and present members, ministers and events. We have been so blessed by God in so many ways at this church. We look forward to the future with more growth, service, fellowships and missions.

24732 Matton’s Grove Ch. Rd. t Gold Hill, NC 28071