The First Methodist Protestant Religious Service
Alfred Posey was born in 1819 to Edward Posey and Catherine Scott Skinner Posey on Oil Creek. Alfred Posey was the half-brother of Alexander Skinner, the patriarch of many Skinner descendants in central West Virginia. Alfred Posey was a pious man, as was his wife, the former Christina Murphy Curtis. Alfred and Christina were the parents of eleven children, many of whom lived their lifetimes in the Oil Creek valley in the neighborhood of Orlando. One of their sons was George Jackson Posey who was born in 1853. George became a farmer like his father and tilled the soil for his living in the Posey Run area. George, like his father, was also a pious man.
Alexander Skinner needs little introduction to people familiar with Orlando. He and his wife, Phebe (Conrad) Skinner, raised a family of twelve children in the Orlando area. Except for their son William who migrated west to California, all of their children remained in the Orlando area. Alexander Skinner was born in 1807 and died in 1891. His wife Phebe was born in 1815 and died in 1886. In addition to being charter members of the Methodist Society, Alexander Skinner and his wife Phebe donated the land for the erection of a church and parsonage to further the cause of Methodism in Orlando.
Nancy McPherson, a charter member of the Methodist society, was a widow and resident of lower Oil Creek. She was the mother in law of Lucy (Skinner) McPherson, daughter of Alexander and Phoebe Skinner, and the wife of Thomas McPherson who would later be killed during the Civil War.
Isaac Riffle, another charter member of the Methodist society, was born around 1784. He was the son of Jacob Sr. and Dorothy Riffle. Jacob Riffle Sr. came to America in 1750 and was one of the original settlers of what is now West Virginia, having settled in the Tygart River Valley first around 1770 and then coming to Braxton County around 1810.
Confusion Regarding the Year the Church was Built
The Building of a Parsonage
The United Brethren Church Split from the Methodist Church
For a brief period in the late 1960s, this inter-church rivalry seemed to have ended with the nation-wide merger of the Methodist and United Brethren churches. The two Orlando churches in the spirit of fellowship decided to abandon their original church homes and buy the former St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Church building for their newly merged church. However, doctrinal differences or personal animosities still seemed to be too sharp for a fellowship between the local congregations of the two churches. The national merger of the two churches made no difference to the local congregations who split again into separate churches. Many of the former United Brethren members formed an independent church, led by former United Brethren minister, Reverend W.H. Hoover, and left the Methodist fold. The newly purchased former home of St. Michael’s was again abandoned by the Mt. Zion members who returned to their original church home. For a fuller discussion of this topic, see the story of the Orlando United Brethren church on this website.
Church Attendance in Orlando
From a reading of the Methodist Ladies Aid meeting in July 1959 it is clear that there was a strong, vibrant, dedicated social club to supplement the activities of the Mt. Zion Church. This continued at least well into the 1960s.
Vacation Bible School
member who lived on Clover Fork, was quite a pious member, and a strong believer in prayer. Jeanetta relates that she and her husband Danny lived near Bennett Siding on upper Oil Creek. She recalls being approached one time by Herbie Fisher who told her that he prayed constantly for her husband, and that sometimes he felt the need of prayer so strongly that he would drive to their home and park in their driveway late at night and pray that God would protect Danny. Jeanetta was thankful for Herbie’s concern for her husband. Sometime after Herbie’s death, members of his family found that Herbie had a natural altar in a rock formation on the hill behind his home on Clover Fork where he went to pray and meditate. And, judging from the well worn area around this altar Herbie had used the altar long and often, praying for himself, his friends and neighbors, seeking solace with the Lord.
The Preacher Lost His Shirt
Early in his ministerial career in Webster County, Preacher Armentrout was so poor that he had just one shirt to his name. This shirt was his everyday shirt, his church-going shirt and his only shirt. One day, Preacher Armentrout was burning brush to clear off a space for a garden so that he could feed his growing family. Since it was a warm day, he had removed his shirt and carefully placed it where it wouldn’t get dirty or spoiled. The day became windy after Preacher Armentrout lit the fire to the brush and before he realized it, the fire was out of control. The fire, in addition to burning the brush, nearly completely consumed Preacher Armentrout’s only shirt, except for the collar and a strip down the front of the shirt.
To make matters worse, that very day Preacher Armentrout received a call to preach the funeral service of a deceased church member the same evening. With no money to buy a new shirt, Preacher Armentrout turned to his wife Bessie for help. Bessie was handy with a needle and thread. She carefully sewed the charred edges of the shirt to her husband’s suit vest. Except for lacking the entire back of the shirt and two shirt sleeves, it all looked normal. If anybody at the funeral noticed the peculiarity of the preacher’s attire, they remained silent about it. Preacher Armentrout, otherwise, carried off the funeral uneventfully, thanks to the skill and care of his dear wife Bessie. And, thankfully, the preacher didn’t have to remove his suit jacket in his service to the Lord.
Mary Emma Skinner's Thesis
1. In 1946-1947, the Sunday School teachers at Mt. Zion were Worthy Hurst, P. J. Bragg, June Skinner, Maysell Bennett, and Edith Stutler.
2. In August 1949, the electric bill was $1.00.
3. In 1951, the average Sunday School attendance was 35.
4. In 1961, the average Sunday School attendance was 27.
5. In 1969, the average Sunday School attendance was 25.
6. On April 23, 1968 , the merger of the Evangelical United Brethren, the United Brethren, and the Methodist churches was declared.
7. The Orlando United Methodist Church paid $1500 for the former St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Church building to be used as the new sanctuary for the merged churches to be known as the United Methodist Church.
8. The United Methodist Church expended $1340 to sand the floors of the former United Brethren parsonage, to purchase a new kitchen rug and to install a new floor furnace.
9. The United Methodist Church moved into their new church building on June 22, 1969 but on December 28, 1969, part of the congregation moved back to the former United Brethren Church building along with their minister Reverend W. H. Hoover.
10. Around 1985 the former United Brethren parsonage was sold and a trailer was purchased and located about two miles up Oil Creek for the new parsonage.
11. In March 1985, Mrs. Skinner attended Sunday School and the attendance was 21.
The Church Bureaucracy Today