History of Winfield First United Methodist Church
The Winfield First United Methodist Church has a long history in Winfield. In about 1860, the John S. Wheeler family came to Alabama from Georgia and settled on a farm near the present Eastside Baptist. Soon after settling in they invited neighbors into their home for religious services which eventually led them to organize a church. About 1863 they erected a church building and named it Wheeler’s Chapel. In 1881, because of growth, a new church building was erected near the first church building.
In 1888 Wheeler’s Chapel was moved to a location just south of the railroad in Winfield. The church became Winfield Methodist Church. The land for the church was donated by Mr. Henry Musgove. The first pastor assigned to the Methodist Church was E. H. Price. The church became part of the Fayette Circuit in the Tuscaloosa District. Some of the charter members of the church were:
The John Wheelers Mr. & Mrs. Walton Aston
The John Russells Mrs. Minervy Aston
Mr. & Mrs. S. W. Bishop The Henry Musgroves
Mr. & Mrs. Billy Aston Mrs. Annie White
Mrs. Clara Aston The William Websters
The Methodist Church added a bell tower which was used to announce Sunday services. It was used for many other purpose including signifying the death of a Winfield resident. That bell is now installed at the current location on Bankhead Hwy.
In 1946 the first brick building was erected and was designed to closely resemble the Methodist Church in Haleyville. The pastor was Rev. Marvin Swilling during construction. The building was dedicated on May 12, 1946 with A. C. Blackburn as the pastor.
Not long after the dedication of the new brick structure, the building caught on fire on a Sunday morning. Much of the interior was severely damaged by smoke and water. Most of the members spent most of the day salvaging furniture, fixtures, books and mopping the floors to prevent as much damage to the wood floors as possible. However, services would continue in the basement which became the sanctuary until the church could be repaired.
This location was used until 1970. In 1968, when the property owned by Dr. and Mrs. R. L. Hill became available and the church voted to build a new church. The building committee for the new construction included; Ivan K Hill, Dr. George Mann, Raymond Kirkpatrick, John T. Floyd, James Hill, and Nelson Kemp. The pastor during the construction was Re. Charles Howard. The first worship service was held on October 25, 1970. However, the church service that morning began in the location below the railroad track and after a few brief remarks and a prayer, there was a procession through town to the new location.
Stained Glass Windows
The stained glass windows that are in the current church building were removed from the old Methodist church building. The members voted to use the windows because of their beauty and sentimental reasons. The large window above the choir loft was donated by the Oden Family and features “Christ in the Garden”. During evening worship and other church activities it has a spot light that shines on it from the outside.
Much of this information was compiled and written by Charla Hill, which was my Sunday School teacher for many years when the church was located south of the railroad on Hwy 43.