Methodism began in Belton in 1858 when two Methodist pastors, "Sirs
Franks and Black, held a 3 days meeting" in the Belton Presbyterian Church.
Years later in 1876 Belton Methodist Episcopal Church, South was established.
The congregation met at the Presbyterian Church until 1882 when a frame
meeting house was built. Sometime around 1900 a tower and steeple were
added to the front of the building as seen below.
In the early days of the church the bell in the bell tower was rung before
services to call the community to come and worship. Older members tell
stories of walking to church and hearing the bell peel in the distance.
That same bell, though not often rung, still remains in the bell tower.
In 1911 the church
was renamed in memory of U.S. Senator
Churchwell Latimer(seen in picture) who was an inspiring member of
the church from its earliest days. See also
Asbury Churchwell Latimer.
In 1942 Rev. Horace Gravely who was serving Latimer Memorial Methodist
to serve as a Chaplain in the Military. On February 7, 1943 his ship, the
USS Henry R. Mallory, was
torpedoed near Iceland. His body was never recovered. It is told that he
gave his life vest to a sailor who had none. He was the only Chaplain from
South Carolina to lose his life in the war. The chimes in the sanctuary
were given in his memory.
The present church structure on the corner of River and Green Streets is
the site of the original church building and is the oldest church structure
still in use in Belton. While having been renovated several times the original
wooden peg structure is present inside the current walls of the sanctuary.
A Sunday School wings and a Fellowship Hall were added in the '50's, '60's,
and 70's. The most recent addition to the building was the addition of
a steeple in 1992.
A stained glass window of Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane sits
above the front entrance of the sanctuary. This window was given in memory
of Senator Latimer. It is illuminated each night from dusk until midnight
as reminder of Christ's constant intercession for his disciples.
In the 1970's the other windows in the sanctuary were replaced with stained
glass. To see these windows and sermons about their meaning go to "The
Stained Glass Windows of Latimer Memorial."
As can be seen in
the pictures, there were two entrances in the front. Originally, one of
these doors was for the men and the other for the women; however, the area
inside the right entrance was used for a Sunday School room so everyone
entered through the left entrance. As best I can tell from the recollections
of Mrs. Selma Folk (born 1894-died 1995) the men sat on the right side.
While this practice of seating the men and women separately may seem odd,
it was church law for the first 100 years Methodism in America.
(Latimer Memorial Methodist Episcopal
Church, South - 1932)
Return to Latimer Memorial UMC's
This page last updated on February 2, 2012.