wesleyJohn and Charles Wesley laid the foundation of the United Methodist Church following a transforming religious experience in May 1738. They led a renewal movement in the Church of England. Their ministry spread to North America as Methodists made their way to the colonies. Organized Methodism began in America as a lay movement around 1760 and was strengthened by lay preachers sent by Wesley. One such man was Francis Asbury who played a very important role in early American Methodism shaped by his devotion to the principles of Wesleyan theology, ministry, and organization.

The first Methodist conference in the colonies took place in Philadelphia in 1773 where the ministers in attendance pledged allegiance to Wesley’s leadership and emphasized strong discipline among the societies and preachers and organized a system of regular conferences of preachers to conduct the business of the church. After the American Revolution, Wesley sent Thomas Coke to America to supervise changes in American Methodism with Asbury. Wesley sent with Coke a prayer book called The Sunday Service of the Methodists in North America and two ordained preachers. The fact that they were ordained set a precedent that led to Methodists in America to become an independent church.

The Christmas Conference of preachers took place at Lovely Lane Chapel in Baltimore in December 1784 where the movement was organized as the Methodist Episcopal Church in America. Soon thereafter, the Methodist Episcopal Church published it first Discipline (1785), adopted a quadrennial General Conference and held the first in 1792, drafted a Constitution in 1808, refined its structure, established a publishing house, and promoted revivalism and the camp meeting.

Two other churches were forming about the same time. The Church of the United Brethren in Christ was organized in 1800 and the Evangelical Association in 1803. These 2 churches united in 1946 and then with The Methodist Church in 1968 to form The United Methodist Church.

The Church has experienced divisions caused by differences over various social and theological issues throughout its history and eventual reunifications but has always been focused on the strength of its worship, education, and missionary work.

Founding of Ivy Creek

As individual churches grew, groups often split off to start their own congregations. It is likely that Ivy Creek began in such a way. We begin our story on March 12, 1808 when Bland Ballard gave a quarter acre of his land to the congregation where they had already built a church. Preachers traveled between charges by horseback or carriage and so spent a great deal of time on the road. That building was located just off present day Lambs Road near the WINA radio towers. There are still remnants of a stone foundation which are possibly surviving pieces of that first church building. The congregation was within the Albemarle circuit of the James River District. Circuits often included several charges with a minister covering each.

During the time the congregation met at this location, there were many exciting milestones in the Methodist movement. The year 1808 also marks the adoption of a constitution by the Methodist Episcopal Church. The Methodist Missionary Society formed in 1819. In 1823, the first Methodist weekly newspaper, Zion’s Herald, began publication. The first Methodist regional historical society was founded in 1839. The Church acquired Wesleyan Female College in Macon, GA in 1840 which was the first college to grant full collegiate degrees to women. In 1844, the Methodist Episcopal Church South split from the northern Church over slavery and episcopacy. Theological seminaries were established starting in 1866.

It is unclear when the church started using the name Ivy Creek but it appears in the deed book for the congregation’s move to its second location. In July 1873, trustees Richard W. Wingfield, Edward C. Wingfield, J. Richard Wingfield, W.R. Via, and William Roads purchased about an acre of land from the Goodman and Worlege families for one dollar for the purpose of building a church of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. The deed includes a clause stating that ministers of the Presbyterian Church were permitted to use the church one Sunday every month. If the congregation ever stopped using the property for a place of worship, it would revert back to the tract of land from which it was taken. This location was on a bluff overlooking what is now Woodlands Road near the reservoir. It was on the north east side of the bridge that connects Woodlands and Earlysville Road. During the congregation’s tenure in this location, developments in the overall church included the organization of the Wesley Foundation (1913) and numerous missionary and evangelical efforts in the far reaches of the world.

In July 1916, Mrs. Lucy S. Morris sold 399 acres of land to her two sons but it was supposed to have excluded a 1.6 acre parcel where a cemetery existed and a church was being built. A deed dated May 17, 1920 corrected the oversight stating that as long as the land was used for church and burial purposes, it was excluded from the 1916 conveyance. The trustees named in that deed are J. Richard Wingfield Jr., James S. Morris, George F. Marshall, Mercer Garnett, and Thomas N. Beddows.

The current Ivy Creek United Methodist Church was likely built between 1916 and 1920. The dedication of the church on May 30, 1920 was well attended and was noted in the following Wednesday edition of The Daily Progress. There was a morning and afternoon speaker and a “sumptuous dinner” was served in picnic style by the ladies of the community. The building is constructed of native stone in the Gothic architectural style. The original structure did not include the vestibule which was added between 1952 and 1958, built by men of the congregation. The addition on the back of the church building was built in 1952 and has had several layout changes over the years.

The property expanded in August 1962 when the Morris and Riviere families gave Ivy Creek an additional 1.34 acres which the congregation used in part for the parsonage. Completed in 1963, Pastor Claude D. Haynes was the first to live in the parsonage. The Fellowship Hall was built in 1970 and originally was mostly a large open space inside but over time has been finished off into separate rooms to become the building we know today.

The sanctuary originally had 2 aisles and the pulpit and chairs we are using for the service today. The remodeling began in 1975 to the current configuration with a center aisle and new pews and altar furnishings. The stained glass windows add to its beauty and we will dedicate a new addition as part of this celebratory day.