Mount Carmel Methodist Church

Near Berry’s Ferry (Clarke County), Virginia
Built (circa) 1760

Home in the 1930's Details from 1904 Church Records Own a Slice of History Church Location Contact

Mount Carmel in the 1930’s

(As remembered by Mark Royston)

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.