GOD WANTS US IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL!!
If you think that Grayson United Methodist Church is a great place to worship and fellowship now you should have seen it in 1884 when a few citizens of Trip, GA (now Grayson) made the decision, with God’s encouragement and blessings, to establish a church. For the first year, worship services were held in a brush arbor which we believe was located in the vicinity of the bell displayed just north of our parking lot. On March 10, 1885, Mary Billue was kind enough to sell 2.8 acres of land to the church (then named Asbury UMC) for $10.00 – with this very generous gesture, the ministries of GUMC began to grow.
In 1885 the members of the church came to the decision that they needed a permanent type structure and with a mere $2000 they were able to build the “Chapel”. For 108 years this $2000 investment served GUMC. It was in the Chapel that real growth began; new ministries were established, more people joined the church, and GUMC really became an important part of the Grayson community.
In some respects, the historical records of our church are lacking because we know that over the years growth occurred and renovations and improvements were made to the Chapel, but we are not sure how this growth was funded. We feel certain that members of the church gave generously to the general budget. There were probably instances where members included the church in their estate planning and perhaps gave significant cash gifts. When one stands in today’s Heritage Chapel or the Welcome Center and looks at the stained glass windows, it is obvious that those who came before us loved their church and were generous in their efforts to continue its ministry of making disciples of Jesus Christ.
Recently a 74 year member of GUMC recalls that in recent years there have been three families who bequeathed their estates to our church; Hoke and Louella Norton, Mabel King and Bill and Mary Johnson.
Hoke and Louella Norton’s home was located on Highway 20 in Grayson. The Nortons were not a wealthy couple by standards of many, but their wealth was evident in their servant hearts. Hoke served as church treasurer for many years and Louella was active in most every area in the church. They had a giving spirit in their community and church. In early 1990 the surviving spouse, Louella, passed away and blessed our church by leaving her estate to the church. The estate consisted of a 1970 Chevrolet, a house of 2.11 acres and $4000.00 in cash. The Norton’s generosity laid the foundation for estate gifts and allowed the leadership of the church to begin a new building effort. Their contribution combined with gifts from other members of the church resulted in the construction of the present Sanctuary building which was consecrated in late 1993. Clearly, God wanted us to move forward, paving the way for future ministries, and we did.
In 1998 GUMC was again blessed by the receipt of the estate of Mabel King. Mabel King, whose husband, Arthur, had predeceased her lived in a lovely brick ranch home in Snellville. Her estate consisted of her home, all the furnishing inside the home, a new Buick and a grand piano. What a gift this was! The grand piano is currently used in our Sanctuary every Sunday and what wonderful music comes from it. The house, furnishings and car were sold and we realized about $190,000.00 from these sales. The King estate, combined with other gifts and pledges, allowed us to sell our old parsonage (which was in a state of disrepair), establish a housing allowance for the pastor and pay off the mortgage on the Sanctuary building. The King’s generosity relieved the church of a significant maintenance issue and at the same time allowed us to become more competitive when seeking new pastors.
The most recent estate given to our church was that of Bill and Mary Johnson in the year 2009. Bill and Mary were life-long members of GUMC who started attending when they were children. Bill’s job took them to other areas to live, but they always came home to Grayson. When Bill retired they moved back permanently and became very active church members. Their lifestyle was not one of affluence, but one which allowed them to leave an estate worth over 2.5 million dollars to our church. This gift consisted of a home, furnishings, car, and investments. What an impact this gift has had on GUMC! With this gift and donations from the “Now Is The Time” capital campaign we were able to pay off our mortgage on the new addition to the church and make a significant investment for the future. Bill and Mary’s thoughtfulness allowed us to establish the Grayson United Methodist Church Foundation and invest approximately $500,000 through the Georgia United Methodist Foundation. This investment will help to ensure the future of ministries at GUMC.
There are certainly other stories and there will be new ones – God has truly watched over Grayson United Methodist Church. Since 1884 our church has been blessed by members who recognized that they could faithfully serve God beyond their lifetimes. Now it is our time – what will your legacy be?