Church History


Historical Sketch of Vanderburg United Methodist Church



Vanderburg Methodist Church was organized in 1871 as a Methodist Protestant congregation with the Reverend C. L. Peebles serving as the first minister.  The late Mr. and Mrs. Levi Vanderburg donated a plot of land large enough for a church building and small cemetery.  The location was at the north edge of Shepherd’s Community on the muddy lane that wound its way from Mooresville to Statesville.  For their generosity, Mr. and Mrs. Vanderburg were honored by having the church bear their name.  The name has remained unchanged throughout the years.

The first building was a wood frame structure, which was painted white.  The front doors were painted blue.  The color of the doors was sufficiently distinctive to cause local residents to refer to Vanderburg as “Blue Door Church” – much to the annoyance of the members.  Before her death, Mrs. Levi Vanderburg had the doors repainted white to match the other parts of the building.  The congregation worshiped at the upper Shepherd location for 45 years.

In 1914 under the leadership of the Reverend C. L. McCain, a movement was begun to relocate the Vanderburg Church to a site approximately one mile to the south where a plot of land had been obtained from the Brawley estate.  This was soon accomplished and a new structure was built to house the struggling congregation.

Not all the members were happy with the proposed move however, and some elected to remain behind and worship as an ARP group under the leadership of the minister who served them by traveling from Troutman.  About 1919 a fearsome cyclone-like wind struck the former location and completely destroyed the building.  After that, everyone came together in a cooperative spirit and the congregation began to prosper in the new location.  By 1933 Sunday school rooms had been built and a general renovation had been accomplished.  There was general growth and development during the 1930’s, pastorates of the late Reverend Charles Reichard and the widely known and loved Reverend Key W. Taylor.

At the unification conference in 1939, when the branches of Methodism came together, an energetic young athlete, Dr. A. Glenn Lackey, was appointed pastor.  He soon laid out for the people a visionary plan of building and growth that has continued throughout the years.  In August of 1942 the congregation occupied its new sanctuary debt-free that also included an educational unit.  Harry Hethcox, and active member of Vanderburg, served as chairman of the finance committee for that ambitious project.  Bishop Clare Purcell preached the dedication sermon, and Dr. Joseph S. Hiatt, Statesville District Superintendent, also participated in the service.

Other creative pastors followed Lackey including J. Max Brandon, Jr., R. L. Phillips, and Paul Taylor.  In 1950, a gymnasium-fellowship hall was completed and dedicated in memory of the Reverend M. A. Osborne who promoted that building drive.  The ever-evangelistic Osborne also received many new members by Profession of Faith.

A movement was begun during the pastorate of the Reverend O. C. Loy to make Vanderburg a station appointment.  For 86 years the congregation had been a part of a circuit, sharing the pastor’s services with three or more other churches.  The members overwhelmingly approved this, and the spacious modern parsonage was put into use in 1957.

The Reverend Homer Barker and the Reverend Robert W. Combs completed successful and memorable pastorates.

In 1965 the Reverend Homer Barker secured the appointment of another building committee with Frank E. Brawley serving as chairman.  Vanderburg’s support of the Sunday school necessitated better educational facilities.  It was decided to remodel the building and add a new educational wing.  This progressive step increased the efficiency of the educational program and added greatly to the overall appearance of the entire church building.

The growing congregation voted to establish another building committee at the first quarterly conference held in 1972.  The purpose was to provide a new educational wing which would contain additional classroom space, a children’s building, and a church library.  Kenneth Wooten, who has served Vanderburg Church in many capacities through the years, was named Chairman.  An architect was employed and the work proceeded in a highly successful manner.  During these years the Reverend M. Joe Parker was the pastor.

The Reverend Bobby Joe Dennis succeeded Reverend Parker.  An Allen Digital Computer Organ was purchased at this time, and the sanctuary interior was completely refurbished making a more attractive worship setting.

As the Sunday school and worship attendance grew, the people recognized a need for developing a church staff.  The Reverend Harold T. Reeves led in making specific offices available for the pastor and church secretary.  Mrs. Ruth Shultz began her work as Vanderburg’s first secretary.  Soon publication was begun for a newsletter which reaches approximately 250 homes both far and near.

The Reverend Oren R. Edmonds was appointed in 1981 to follow Reverend Reeves.  Another major building program was launched in April of 1986 when ground was broken for the new Fellowship Hall – Narthex complex.  Dwight Neill was named Chairman.  A spacious 3500 square foot building with commercial kitchen, storage, restrooms, and attractive narthex, was consecrated on November 2, 1986 with Bishop L. Bevel Jones, III of the Western North Carolina Conference as the guest preacher at the 3 p.m. Consecration Service.

Succeeding pastor’s have been:

Reverend John Duvall served from 1986 – 1989.

Reverend Derry Barnhardt served from 1989 – 1993.

Reverend Steve Joyce served from 1993 – 1996.

Reverend W. Gerald Davis served from 1996 – 2002

Reverend John Stein served from 2002 – 2004

Reverend Stephen Porter served from 2004 – 2006

Reverend Susan German served from 2007 – Present

Due to enormous growth in the Mooresville area, potential growth is assured.  A new building committee was formed 1999 with Eddie Neel as chairman to lead the church in building a new sanctuary.