Mount Carmel Methodist
Near Berry’s Ferry (Clarke County), Virginia
Built (circa) 1760
Mount Carmel in the 1930’s
(As remembered by
The depression was in full swing and the collection basket reflected
it. Many times the basket would be passed a number of times at the
end of a church year to try and raise enough money to pay off the
Preacher’s stipend. He came only twice a month as Mount Carmel was
on the White Post Charge and the other six other churches took most
of his time.
Sunday School was the group that held the congregation together.
Each year the attendees would vote on a Sunday School Superintendent
to serve for the following year. The Sunday School was broken down
into various groups from Adults to Children. Pamphlets were given
out to be studied during the week and discussed on Sunday. Each
group had an assigned leader to control the discussion.
A pot belly stove was located in the center of the church in an area
now significant by its absence of a pew. The center divider was cut
through at that point as segregation of the sexes was a thing of the
past. While there were the same two doors that could be used as an
entrance, most likely only one was used and the persons would enter
before deciding on which side to sit.
Try as they did, the leaders couldn’t control the male youths as
they used their pen knives to carve their initials on the back of
the pews. Many were there at the insistence of their parents and the
wood carving served as a diversion to the sometimes long winded
exhortations of the speaker.
The area in the front right of the church served as space for the
Choir. There were two benches (pews) at right angles that were
alongside of the corner of the church. Music was supplied by a foot
pedaled organ. Organ players were a necessity and two were normally
available each Sunday. Leota Thompson (Scott) was the regular
organist and Alma Royston (my mother) learned to play through a
correspondence course, so as to be ready to stand in for Leota.
There were others but the names are lost in memory. On rare
occasions an old member would show up and would be invited to play.
One that is remembered was Mr. Will Elliott. He played an
enthusiastic organ and had a way of leaning back with his hands
stretched toward the keys. He did not believe in playing any hymn
that was slow in melody and the choir many times had trouble keeping
up with him.
Some of the names that come to mind that were members during that
time included the Royston Family, Luther, Alma, Linton & Mark. There
was Mr. Ashton Tavenner who was noted for his steadfastness and kind
soul. There was Lena Lee and son Johnny. Leota Thompson (Scott), son
Brondell and sister Jessie Tinsman came from the bottom of Fox Trap
Hill. The Sechrist family included Mrs. Judy, and children Trumont,
Iona, Wilma and Shirley. Occasionally we would see Mrs. Nannie Lee
who lived at the bottom of Mt. Carmel Lane. There was John Kelly
Lloyd and his “eyes”, Donald Wiley, along with Donald’s mother
Katie. The Carroll family included Edith and children Anis, Eleanor,
Lorraine and Wilmer. There was Vivian “Boo” Carroll. We would see
the Woods brothers, James and Buddy. Meta Erickson was a stalwart
and brought Elene, Ken, David and Dora Lee. Joe Hough, who married
Wilma Sechrist, was a steady influence as he served as Sunday School
Superintendent a number of times. Preacher L.L. Schreck came from
Winchester to serve as a lay preacher for a number of years. Rev.
Clarence Lloyd would be at Mt. Carmel on special occasions. Dollie
Elsea, Elmer Lloyd, Charlotte Russell, twins Ollie & Dollie Pearson
were there many times. I’m sure there were many others and many of
these names flow into the 1940’s.
Mount Carmel has served the community for well over 200 years. Each
of us remembers it for the beauty it brought to our lives and the
formation of our faith. May it be there another 200 years.