Barnardsville – Mountain churches have a history of getting together once a year for members past and present. The tradition is known as homecoming—depending on the church, homecomings may have one or a variety of purposes: celebrating a church’s anniversary, venerating its deceased, honoring its members and encouraging those who have moved away to return for a reunion.
Barnardsville United Methodist Church is preparing to celebrate its 2021 Homecoming Service on Sunday, August 29, at 11 am. The 169-year-old church, established in 1852 as Big Ivy Methodist, will have special music by McKenzie Dillingham with the homecoming sermon presented by the Rev. Clyde Denny. A covered-dish lunch, which is also part of the tradition, will follow the meeting.
According to Wayne Figart, “The history of Methodism in this part of Western North Carolina and this church begins in 1795 when James Anderson (1740-1814) crosses west of the Blue Ridge and settles in the Big Ivy portion of north Buncombe County. James Anderson, a successful farmer and stock raiser, was the first Methodist west of the Blue Ridge and by the time of his death, he owned 700 acres of land here. When he died in 1814, the land was inherited by his son William Mallet Anderson (1784-1856).”
“In 1852 William (Billy) Mallet Anderson built a church building on the corner of Barnardsville Highway and Whittemore Branch Road where the Church of God stands today,” he explains, “The Baptists and the Methodists shared this building. Although Methodist services were held in homes before this time, this was the beginning of Big Ivy Methodist Church.”
While the church was known for about 110 years as Big Ivy Methodist Church, the church was renamed “…Barnardsville Methodist began with the current church building in 1963. The town name Barnardsville was first used in 1875 when a post office was established here in the town”, he said.
According to Figart, “Sometime after the Civil War, the Methodist congregation moved out of the building at Whittemore Branch and built a separate church somewhere on North Fork Creek. We know they were in this building in 1879 when their pastor was the Rev. Jacob R. Payne. We know this because he had sermons published in 1879, which listed him as pastor of Big Ivy Methodist on North Fork Creek in Barnardsville. However, on Sunday, March 19, 1899, the Town of Barnardsville flooded and the building was partially washed away.”
After the flood from 1899 to 1905, the church held meetings in various locations, including the Barnardsville School and the Freewill Baptist Church, he stated.
Around 1905, a new church was constructed in what could be considered the ‘downtown’ section of Barnardsville facing the town. This building, a white, wooden church, can be seen in several photographs taken in 1912. Figart asserts, “History says this building was torn down sometime in the 1940s, but there is no reason given.”
Once again, without a home, the church met in different places from the late 1940s until 1963.” Big Ivy Methodist Church met in various homes and locations including back at the Barnardsville school and the Barnardsville Fire House,” recounts Figart.
On May 27, 1962, the church was renamed from Big Ivy Methodist to Barnardsville Methodist when twenty-five members organized at the Barnardsville School House to establish a new facility on Church Hill.
“Pastors at that time were the Rev. Boyce Huffstetler and the Rev. J. E. B. Houser. Groundbreaking for our current building was held on Sunday afternoon, May 19, 1963 at 3:30 pm,” said Figart.
The church is located at 7 Church Hill Drive, Barnardsville and Figart welcomes everyone to the homecoming. “Come as you are.”