-By A. T. "Steve" Stevens
A rush of residential development and commercial growth in western Spartanburg County began in the 1950's. The rapid growth in population, following World War II, created a demand for housing, which had stagnated during the war years. New housing developments created new communities. These communities needed churches for the churched and the unchurched. The various religious denominations built new churches in the communities to meet the demand. In the course of time, the New Church Committee of the Spartanburg Methodist District realized the need for a Methodist Church in the Reidville Road Area of Spartanburg County. The New Church Committee asked the South Carolina Conference to appoint a pastor for the new-church-to-be, to pioneer the cause. In June 1991, the Reverend Mary E. Rowell was appointed to Spartanburg, but with no church.
Working with interested people in the community of west Spartanburg County, Rev. Rowell found a small, vacant store building, suitable for a temporary meeting place, at 3225 Reidville Road. People began coming to meetings and organizing for the new church-to-be. Interest grew, prayers were answered, and on 5 April, 1992, the first official 8:30 and 11:00 AM worship services were held, with a total of 94 people in attendance.
Attendance to the newly formed church group increased rapidly. The Reidville Road United Methodist Church, appropriately named, was constituted on Sunday, 6 December, 1992, with a membership of 112. The new Reidville Road United Methodist Church was born. It became immediately clear that more space was needed for continued growth of the newly formed church. Officials of the District and the Church got busy looking for a site for a permanent location. A 12.2 acre tract of land, deemed adequate, was found on Reidville Road (State Highway 296), and its intersection with Poplar Springs Road (State Highway 417). the land was purchased and work began immediately, making plans for the new, permanent building. An air of excitement prevailed.
Throughout the year of 1993, fundraising activities were implemented to raise money to pay for the land and start construction of the permanent facility. Perhaps the most noteworthy fundraising event was the "Cyclists for Christ" marathon, in combination with the "Clowns for Christ" activity, which was held in Duncan Park, in October. Approximately $23,000 was raised as
In June 1994, Bishop Joseph B. Bethea, of the South Carolina Conference, announced the appointment of Rev. Scott Robinson, Associate Pastor at Buncombe Street United Methodist Church in Greenville, SC, as pastor of Reidville Road United Methodist Church. The Rev. Charlie Graves, retired, served for several months as interim pastor until Rev. Robinson was assigned. Also, in 1994, with funds committed for the first phase of the permanent facility, an architect was engaged to design and supervise the construction of the new building. Plans were approved and a contract was let for the work.
Groundbreaking services were held at the site on Sunday afternoon, 16 October 1994. Construction work began immediately. The first unit of the permanent facility, consisting of an education wing, offices, and a multi-purpose room, was ready for occupancy on schedule. Consecration services, dedicating the new building, were held on Sunday, 10 September, 1994. An overflow crowd of members, dignitaries, and visitors were present for the historical event. This confirmed the need for a United Methodist Church in this area of southwest Spartanburg County. On this date, the Reidville Road United Methodist Church planted its roots in colonial and historical "Upper South Carolina." A dream caught up with time.
In selecting this area of southwest Spartanburg County to plant its roots, the Reidville Road United Methodist Church inherits the legacy of the history of the area. The geographical plains of southwestern Spartanburg County are traversed by the North, Middle, and South Tyger Rivers, making the area ideally suited for the early settlers if the 1750's. In colonial days the waters of these rivers teemed with edible fish. The pristine forests supplied trees for logs and lumber with which to build homes, barns, schools, and churches, while providing habitat for wild game to supplement the diet of the settlers, such as wild turkey, geese, deer, bear, and yes, buffalo. The freshly cleared rich soil was ideal for growing corn, wheat, hemp and garden vegetables. A bountiful supply of fruit and nuts was available for the harvesting. "Upper South Carolina" therefore filled the needs of the first settlers who came to this area.
The new Reidville Road United Methodist Church sits on a plain between the Middle and South Tyger Rivers. The area is contiguous to, and encircled by, the historical communities of Reidville, Duncan, Lyman, Wellford, Fairforest, Roebuck, Walnut Grove, Anderson Mill, Moore, and Poplar Springs. When the officers of the church opted for this location, they were no doubt more concerned for the needs of a church in the community than for history.