Sunday, April 22, 2007

The History of Orlando's United Brethern Church

by David Parmer

The United Brethren Church followed the tradition of the Protestant faith and emphasized holiness and evangelism. Founded around 1800, the United Brethren faith at first centered on German heritage but soon attracted a homogeneous anti-slavery congregation. With the coming of the period of prosperity and population growth in the Orlando area, the Orlando United Brethren Church came into existence in 1918.
Two Church Buildings
Most all Orlando residents are familiar with the Orlando United Brethren Church building that was consecrated in 1925. Dale Barnett advises us that there was an earlier United Brethren Church building which was located just above the location of the later constructed church building. We don't yet know the story of the church buildings. We do have the story of the Parsonage.

For that story, see the April '07 entry Tales from the U. B. Church

To the right is a photo of the congregation in front of the second church building

The Pastors of the Orlando Circuit
Orlando was the base for a seven charge pastorate. The minister who lived in Orlando also served charges at Knawls Creek, Gilmer Station, Copen, Burnsville Olive Chapel, Copley, and Blackburn. This was and is the common way of handling small parishes. For example, St. Michael, Orlando's Roman Catholic parish, shared its priest with St Bridgit and St Bernard, with the priest living at the rectory located on Loveberry Hill, near the St. Bernard Church.

Reverend L. L. Westfall
Reverend Westfall was the U. B. Minister for the Orlando Charge from 1915 to 1920.

Reverend Stead
Reverend Stead, first name not found, was the U. B. Minister for the Orlando Charge in 1921.
Reverend Stianda R. Cutright
Reverend Stianda R. ("S. R.") Cutright was the U. B. Minister for the Orlando Charge in 1922 and 1923. A native of Upshur County , he was the son of Benjamin Cutright and Virginia Hinkle Cutright. He died in Weston at the age of 43 in 1937.

Reverend I.O. McGrath
Reverend McGrath served in the early 1920s and left in 1923. Preacher McGrath was initially assigned to Richwood for his new church assignment in September 1924, but instead was sent to Cedarville.
Reverend Emery F. Keller
Emery F. Keller
was born in Gilmer County in 1886. He served as minister of the United Brethren Church in Orlando from 1924 until 1928, and again from 1929 until 1933. He and his wife Theodosia were the parents of ten children, six girls and four boys. Hester, the oldest girl married Zirkle Skidmore, Lilly married Ray Fox of Buzzardtown ("Buzzardtown" was columnist P.N. "Uncle Zeke" Blake's name for Posey Run/Road Run area of greater Orlando), Lucille married John Graff of Burnsville, Louise married Aaron Luzader of Glenville, Lenora married Charles Farand of Ohio, and Ruth married Woodford Stout of Normantown. Lydia James, the oldest boy married Arley Marple (who died recently at age 101), Leeman married Ailene Stout, Leeoin died in infancy, and Emery Junior married June Kennedy of Troy.
Preacher Keller retired in the Orlando area and his family lived on the Oil Creek Road, above the B & O Railroad line, between Posey Run and Burnsville just east of the present residence of Carl Fox, grandson of Preacher Keller.

Preacher Keller was quite a handyman and was involved in construction projects around the Orlando area. Dale Barnett also reported that Preacher Keller would raise a few sheep which he butchered and sold in the Orlando area. Preacher Keller died in 1956 and was buried in the Orlando Cemetery. To the right is Preacher Keller carrying ears of corn.
Reverend A. P. Zinn
Reverend A. P. Zinn pastored the Orlando Charge of the U. B. Church from 1928 until 1929.

Reverend C. W. Scott
Reverend C. W. Scott served the U. B. Charge at Orlando from 1934 until 1936. Preacherott later served in the Parkersburg area.
Reverend John Curtis Foster
Reverend John Curtis Foster served the Orlando Circuit from 1942 to 1943. He died in Parkersburg. His son, J. C. Foster, Jr. was also a minister in the Parkersburg area and died recently.
Reverend G. W. Stepp
Reverend G. W. Stepp was the U. B. minister at Orlando from 1942 until 1943.

Reverend James J. Smearman
Reverend James J. Smearman served the Orlando Circuit from 1943 through 1946. Reverend Smearman’s daughter Evelyn graduated from Burnsville High School with the class of 1945. A native of Maryland, Preacher Smearman died in Junior, Barbour County in 1950.
Reverends Nestor and Ziegler
Reverend Joe Ziegler served as replacement minister in 1946 and 1947 for Reverend Nestor who had to leave his Orlando Circuit on account of asthma. He married Pauline McCauley of Burnsville. Pastor Ziegler lived in West Union at his death. The Orlando circuit was his first ministry. Rev. Zigler is at the right.

Reverend Charles Parrish
Reverend Parrish was the United Brethren church pastor from 1948 through 1952. Preacher Parrish’s son Eugene was drum major for the Burnsville High School band in 1952. He was quite adept at twirling the baton and could toss it high into the air and catch it coming down without a problem. At the right, with his wife Naomi.

Reverend Brady Bland
Reverend Brady Bland served briefly in 1953.
Reverend Albert Berl England
Reverend Albert Berl England was the pastor in Orlando from 1954 to 1956. He and his wife, Irene, had three children, Eddie, Sheila and Gwen Ann. Pastor England died in New Jersey in 1976 at age 53 and is buried in Belington. Irene died in Belington in 2000 at age 80.

Reverend Carus Campbell
Reverend Campbell served the Orlando Charge from 1957 to 1958.

Reverend W. H. Hoover
Reverend W. H. Hoover was a native of Mineral County and came to Orlando in 1959 from Cottageville, Mason County to serve the Orlando Circuit. During his ministry in Orlando the United Brethren church bought the former St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Church building and moved there from its church building on the hill. Pastor Hoover being apprised of the pending merger of the United Brethren Church and the Methodist Church was not in favor of the merger, left his ministry and went into an independent ministry in the Weston area where he served many years at the Message of Light Tabernacle Church until his death in 2006. He was survived by his widow Velma, his daughter Lillie, and two sons Bob and William.

Bishop William Weekley
The Bishop of the conference was located in Parkersburg but he was important to the life of the church in Orlando. One Bishop, William Weekley, married to the former Emma Gibson, was a frequent visitor to the Orlando Church. We know he officiated at the dedication of the United Brethren Church building in Orlando in 1925, about a year before his death at the age of 74 in Parkersburg. Bishop Weekley began his ministry in 1870 at the age of 19 as preacher to a circut of nine churches. He wrote several books including Twenty Years on Horseback.

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