Coldwater UMC celebrates 100th year
Nestled in the hills of southwestern Lincoln County, Coldwater United Methodist Church celebrated its 100th anniversary among friends and family during special homecoming Sunday.
A large crowd gathered for the occasion, which included services led by the Rev. Jim Beaty, guest speaker, followed by lunch on the grounds and some good bluegrass gospel with the Golden Hollow Band, a favorite group of the church’s members for the last several years.
The roots of the church go back as far as the mid 19th century. Coldwater United Methodist Church was originally organized in 1860, as Smith’s Chapel, and it was located at that time on Molino Road, a half-mile north of present-day Coldwater Creek Road and Molino Road.
On Dec. 19, 1860 the building lot was deeded to the trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church South for a grand sum of $5. Unfortunately, it is believed that the records from the period of 1860-1890 were destroyed in a parsonage fire in the 1970s.
Before the new church was built in its present location at 618 Old Railroad Bed Road, the trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church South purchased Reuben’s Chapel in Coldwater, an African American Baptist church, for the sum of $100 on April 24, 1912. Reuben Chapel then purchased the Smith’s Chapel building and land on Molino Road.
A new church building was erected in the spring of 1913 after the Baptist church on Coldwater Creek was torn down. Other than electricity being installed in the mid to late 1930s, the structure remained mostly unchanged through the ‘40s. In the 1950s several improvements were made to the building, including the additions of running water, a basement and a furnace.
Not until the 1980s were more improvements made, including an addition that housed a new fellowship hall, primary classroom, kitchen and two bathrooms. Additionally, in 1983 Carter Hill Cemetery was established and made part of the church to operate and maintain. Central heat and air conditioning was installed in the church in 1994. Major renovations were undertaken in 2000, with vinyl siding being added to the exterior and a new metal roof put on.
Four years later a pavilion was built on the grounds to benefit both the church and the community. Then in 2005 the church floors, which had previously been painted gray, were stripped and refinished. New carpeting was installed in the aisles, on the pulpit and in the vestibule of the church.
The church purchased a property directly in front of the building in 2010, adding much needed parking space for the congregation.
Currently there are a little over 100 people on the church roll, with approximately 55 members of the congregation attending Sunday services weekly.
“Our heritage is one of warm hearts and giving hands,” reads a booklet compiled in celebration of Coldwater United Methodist’s 200th year. The front of the booklet reads, “Coldwater United Methodist Church has been blessed by God through the many generations of people who have passed through these doors.”
The community itself also has a rich history. Early settlers of the Coldwater area grew out of the Revolutionary War land grants made in 1784. At that time, the land belonged to the Cherokee and Chickasaw Native Americans. In 1806, the Chickasaws relinquished their hunting grounds and in 1807, the Cherokees signed a treaty in Washington, D.C., freeing their land for white settlements.
Through the years Coldwater became a small village with a number of services and family-owned businesses, schools, churches, gristmills and stores providing the necessities of life.
Perhaps the most momentous event was in 1904 when the NC&SL railroad brought modern progress into Coldwater, turning the tiny village into a thriving little town with hotels, a depot, bank, and other homes and buildings. But in 1929, the railroad line shut down, and with its demise, the town soon faded.