A Brief History Of Centenary
By Terrell D. Moseley - Church Historian
It all started with Samuel Mitchell, who in the 1790s lived on a farm on Daniel's Hill in Lynchburg,
Virginia, near the Point of Honor. He was the first person who tried to start a gathering
of Methodists in Lynchburg. He did so by holding small worship meetings at his home. However, they
were not able to start a church. Nonetheless, in 1805 Stith Mead was a
leader who inspired a group to purchase a parcel of land. In 1806, construction of a meetinghouse was
completed. It was called the Third Street Methodist Meetinghouse. Mr. Mead provided most of the
construction money by underwriting the loan himself.
Today Centenary is known as The Mother Church of Methodism in Lynchburg. It's early history began
in January 1806 with the construction of the first Methodist Meeting House on 3rd Street ( now called
Church Street). However, hasty construction and the lack of any building codes, quickly resulted in the
need for new building that was built in 1815. The early church was initially on the Bedford Circuit,
but later became a station itself.
Having outgrown their building, a new larger church was constructed in 1859. It was considered one of
the finest churches in the Virginia Conference. In 1860 the name was changed from the Third Street
Methodist Meeting House, to Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church, South.
Centenary congregations gave rise to other churches: The Methodist Protestant Church (later known as
First Methodist), Court Street Methodist Church, Danieltown Chapel, Trinity Methodist Church and
Madison Heights Methodist Church. Danieltown Chapel later became known as Cabell Street
Methodist Church. Even with the new churches, Centenary again needed more room, and in 1898 a new
church was built on Fitzhugh Place, near Rivermont Avenue. That church was Rivermont Avenue
Ever growing, another larger church, this one designed by the noted architect Stanhope Johnson, was
built. It was patterned after St. Martin in the Field Church, located in Trafalgar Square, London.
Shortly after its construction in 1926, the congregations of Centenary and Rivermont merged and the
new combined church was named Centenary. That is our current building.
In 1930, Centenary having been instrumental in the formation of Danielstown Chapel, joined with that
growing congregation as one united church in 1930.
During the history of Centenary, many noted preachers such as Bishop John Early, and Francis Asbury
have delivered sermons from her pulpit. The Virginia Methodist Conference met at Centenary on two or
more occasions. Centenary was a gathering place for early Lynchburg citizens' activities. Lorenzo Dow,
an itinerant minister, and Stith Mead, a local landowner and righteous man, participated in the
founding of Centenary, whichwas then known as Third Street Methodist Meeting House. In the early
19th century before 1806,
Lorenzo addressed the wickedness of Lynchburg by saying, "Lynchburg was the seat of Satan's
Reformend Methodist Church
As We Are Today