Methodism was a lay movement in England until 1784. When the American Colonies separated from England in 1783, the idea of a new church in America was conceived at a conference held at Lovely Lane Chapel in Baltimore, Maryland, December 24, 1784. They preached the gospel of Free Grace. This doctrine of making the individual responsible for his own salvation appealed to the new Americans or colonists. The denomination grew to be the largest Protestant body in America. Methodism spread quickly throughout the frontier and expanding America, until there was a network of Methodist Circuits and Stations.
Pioneers seeking land migrated to the Tennessee Valley less than 25 years after the American Independence. These people were hearty frontiersmen who wanted to establish homes in this land of opportunity. Methodists were among the creation of Madison County. The first settlement was formed in New Market in the fall of 1806. Methodists were from the very beginning when the affairs of this country were being organized. Madison County was created by a Proclamation issued by Robert Williams, Governor of the Mississippi Territory on December 13, 1808.
During these early years many preachers were licensed to marry, but they were not ordained ministers. There were many local preachers who were not allowed to administer the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper. The circuit rider would try to gather all the societies or churches together once a quarter. The presiding elder of the District of Conference would endeavor to be with them once a year. The coming of the circuit rider or presiding elder was a big event, and Methodists for miles around would gather at the court house, a large meeting house, or if the weather permitted in brush arbors. There was preaching twice a day over several days, the Lord's Supper celebrated any little ones christened.
The Flint Circuit became part of the Nashville District in 1812 and later the Tennessee District in 1818 as part of the Tennessee Conference. During these early years Madison County history, Methodist worship services were held in homes of its members and other locations. Although little is written about the early Methodists in New Market, early records reveal people met in homes, brush arbors and in larger churches when a circuit rider or presiding elder visited for dedications or to celebrate the Lord's Supper.
The earliest record, as found in Deed Book X, page 261 in the Madison County Courthouse, is the deed recorded on 26 May 1849 for a Methodist Church in New Market. The land was deeded by a Miller family for the purpose of constructing a three story brick building to be used by the Methodist and Presbyterian Churches, with the New Market Lodge and the New Market Division of Sons of Temperance occupying the third floor. These organizations were to improve the social and moral conditions of the town. A church was built during this time where the New Market Presbyterian Church is now located.
Federal troops occupied the New Market area in April 1862. Often Federal soldiers attended church and Sunday School with local people. Records indicate that the New Market and the First Church were burned during the Civil War and with courage, confidence and faith, they prepared to rebuild. The church was rebuilt in 1883.
The Methodists sold their interest in the above church site. This proved to be a wise decision as a cyclone demolished that building in 1885. The Methodist Episcopal Church South bought two acres of land, on which the church now stands, for $30.00 from Bradford Hambrick and his wife. A white frame church was constructed at that time. The parsonage was a small wooden house next door to the church.
The white frame church was torn down in 1920 and the new circular brick church was built. The brick was made at a kiln in New Market. Frank Estes was contracted to build the main church but he left and another contractor completed it. Mr. J. W. Cochran and Mr. J. M. Payne, members of the church, were largely responsible for buying all the materials used for constructing the church. A post on the inside of the church bears Mr. Cochran's name. It was presumed that the bell in the bell tower come from the previous church building.
The New Market United Methodist Church is among the structures influenced by the Palladium style of Italian Renaissance architecture. The two major design influences on the 1921 New Market United Methodist Church are Andre Palladio's 16th Century Villa and the "Akron Plan" developed by the Methodist Church in Ohio in the latter 19th Century.
Perhaps the early 20th Century Colonial Revival movement and Jefferson's Monticello provided a link to the Palladian idea of a central done with identical adjoining pedimented facades. In this case the Akron plan dictated that only the two "public" facades matched with the other sides being modified to accommodate the quarter-circle auditorium and Sunday School and alcoves that are characteristic of the Akron plan. "The view of the most prominent North and East facades presents a simplified version of the Andrea Palladio's 16th Century Villa Capra, whereas the view of the Southeast walls reveals the presence of the quarter-circular 'Akron Plan' auditorium. A ring of four Sunday School class alcoves borders the back of the auditorium."
The roof is hipped, with a flat area on the top containing a low stepped octagonal segmented dome topped with a finnel. The lower drum of the dome steps contain a half-circle window in each of the eight faces. The column shafts are hollow wood stave construction. The walls are brick with limestone window sills. The steps are rebuilt concrete. The original steps were known by older church members to have been concrete. The primary windows are quite large, with arched heads. A projecting brick row above two courses of four inch headers froms the arch above the windows. The other windows are of a simpler pattern, with the smaller and less prominent windows being rectangular. All the glass is a molded "frost" pattern in common use in the early 20th Century. The tri-style porticos are unusual, but logical. The entries are at each side of the redressed area under the portico. The column positions serve to indicate this and sub-consciously direct visitors to the side entries and away from the center of the portico. The church was wired for electricity in 1928 when New Market received electricity.
The Community Thanksgiving breakfast began in 1941, when Rev. L. J. Kaylor, then pastor of the Presbyterian Church, and father of Myrtle Esslinger, started this annual Ecumenical breakfast. This tradition has continued, until times changed and it became a dinner with the Baptist, Presbyterian and Methodist Church congregations participating.
Our organ was purchased in 1948 and Joanne Jobe served as organist until 1962. Rosemary McCrary assumed the duties of organist until October 2006, with Bobbie Odom assisting on the piano. Cheryl Jacks is our current pianist.
Our youth have played an active part in our church throughout the years. They presented programs and plays to help raise funds to purchase the pews, which were installed in 1958. The alter and communion table were also purchased at this time. The brick Fellowship Hall was completed in 1968. A new alter rail was given in the mid-1970's in memory of Rosa Esslinger by her family and friends.
In addition to our worship service, we have many programs which add to the spiritual enrichment of our congregation. Our Sunday School devotional is led by John Keith, the Sunday School Superintendent since 1972. We have four church school classes for children and two adult classes each week. The Children's Moments during our worship hour was started on May 5, 1991. A nursery for children under three years of age was begun in 1991, and UMYF was reorganized September 20, 1992.
Another major event in our church was the ground-breaking for our new Educational Annex to the church. Bishop Lloyd Knox delivered the message on April 21, 1991. This was the first time a Bishop had ever visited our church. Upon completion of the Annex, a dedication services was held by our District Superintendent, Rev. Dan Kitchens on February 16, 1992.
On June 14, 1990, our church was added to the National Register of Historic Places by the U. S. Department of the Interior.
In 1993, four pews were donated to the church in memory of Tommy McCrary by his family and friends. These pews were installed in two of the "Sunday School Alcoves" at the rear of the congregation in a dedication service.
Each person who enters out church is important as they enrich and become a part of the history of the church. "It takes all of us working together in harmony to fulfill God's will and to reach our 'Eternal Goal'".