A Brief History Of
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
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 Methodist Church.
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 kingdom."
As We Are