(06/04/2012)

Pastor David Weaver and parishioner Edna Zwoll
plan for historic Orma church celebration

The Orma United Methodist Church, among the county's oldest operating churches, will be celebrating 200 years on June 24, according to Pastor David Weaver.

"We will gather to celebrate a special homecoming encompassing the 200 years," said Weaver.

The event starts at 10 a.m. with sharing photos and stories, followed by preaching by Rev. Roger Carter at 11 a.m and a fellowship dinner at noon. Well-known gospel singer Tim McCoy will present a program after dinner.

The church's earliest records on file at the Calhoun County Clerks office lists a date of 1849 when property was obtained for a church, but records go back to 1812.

The community was once named Rilla.

"We need the communities help in finding some history from 1812 to 1849. We also want old photos from any activity that is connected with the Orma Church. So get out your old photo albums, family bibles and other mementos and bring them to the celebration," Weaver said.

Contact information: Sharon Settle 304-655-8280, Edna Zwoll 304-655-7347 or Pastor David Weaver 304-354-6217.

The Orma church congregation has celebrated a homecoming with "dinner on the ground," for years past, attended by former church members.

Weaver, who has pastored the church since 2001, said the church has been moving forward with a first major addition to the building, and a graduation from outhouses to inside toilets and a kitchen with the coming of public water to the West Fork.

The church was first dedicated in 1812, downhill from the present structure along the banks of the West Fork. The Hammond Methodist Church was the responsibility of Joseph Brannon, Ed Parsons and Oliver Brannon.

In 1919, the church building was placed on log skids and moved to its present hillside location. Carl Stalnaker with the help of community people, skidded the large structure up the hillside using the power of six oxen.

At that time, the church joined the Orma Cemetery, established years before.

Historians say changes across the years included coal stoves and oil lamps being replaced by electric lights and gas heat.

The original structure, not unlike many early churches, had entrances for men and women. That system was eliminated many years ago.

Some of the ministers serving the church are, Reverends Hammond, A. P. Price, Glen Chancey, Hicks, Aldine Poling, Paul Conley, James Wilson, Johnny Alfred, David Lancaster, Kevin Church, and current pastor David Weaver.

The following article was printed in the Church History Book of the Little Kanawha District United Methodist Church in 2001:

The Orma Methodist Church was originally located on the banks of the west fork, not to far from the present location. The county road, which followed the contour of the stream, was between the church lot and the stream bank, thus affording an accessible place for the baptizing of the converts.

Joseph Brannon, Ed Parsons and Oliver Brannon were mainly responsible for securing the material and construction of the church. Mr. Parsons was the carpenter. The church was dedicated in 1812 and named the Hammond Methodist Church North. It was named for the first minister of the church. Later the county road was moved to a higher elevation, thus leaving the church more or less isolated. It was decided to move the church to its present location, a few thousand feet distance.

In 1919 the church building was mounted on log skids and with Carl Stalnaker and the help of others and six yoke of oxen they successfully moved the church across a wide field and up a little hill where it's presently located joining the Orma Cemetery which had bee started several years previously.

During the ensuing years many changes were made. Coal stoves and oil lamps gave way to gas stoves and electricity. The old hand made pews were replaced with new ones.

The two-door entrance (originally the men used the right door and the women used the left) was changed to one entrance and a bell tower was built. New windows were added, vinyl siding replaced the original weather boarding.

Some of the early trustees and charter members included E. G. Parsons, Joseph Brannon, Weaver Brannon, Dink Parsons, Rev. A. P. Parsons and Greeley Brannon.

New lighting system was installed and a complete paint job was done in 1951-52.

During these one hundred or so many years many ministers have served the church. Some of the older ones included: Rev. A. P. (Price) Parsons, Rev. Showen, Rev. Glen Chancey, Rev. Hicks and Rev. Aldine Poling.

Several who have received their spiritual experiences at this church have continued in the Christian work as teachers, missionaries, and ministers. Some have gone as far as Oklahoma and South Dakota.

Locally we have had Rev. Johnny Alfred who served as pastor. Rev. Paul Conley retired from a church in Baltimore. Dr. James L. Wilson of Parkersburg served several churches in our District and was also District Superintendent.

- Most of this information was written by Mrs. Ivah B. Campbell and Mrs. Stella Chenoweth.


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