Nashville UMC History
How we got here
It was 53 years after the founding of Methodism in America that it arrived in Brown County, Indiana. In 1837, Eli P. Farmer was sent to the “Brown Mission” (as it was called until 1860) by the Indiana Conference organized in 1832. The first church building, constructed in 1840, was a crude log structure built in the northwest section of the village on property donated by William Gould. It housed the congregation until 1848 when a second church structure was built across the street and just to the east of the log church.
This church building had an interesting history as it housed the sessions of the County Court from 1853-1854 while a new Courthouse was under construction. Because it was the only church in town at that time, it was also used as a meeting place by Baptist, Christian and United Brethren congregations.
A few years later, a serious disagreement over slavery and secession divided the little congregation and the church split in 1860. The church building was sold to George Allison, who moved it across the street to use as a print shop. There was no active Methodist organization until 1878, but devout members continued to hold regular meetings in their homes and public buildings to keep alive the Methodist spirit in the community.
In 1878, the Reverends Branstutter and Hunter organized a Methodist Church South, an indication of Southern Sympathy in Brown County. Later that year, a church building was built on the lot where the old building had stood, and later this structure was moved further to the east to the corner of Jefferson and Gould streets. This served the Methodist congregations for almost 50 years.
In 1875, a Presbyterian congregation was organized and built a church where the Nashville United Methodist Church stands today. That church building was lost in a fire of 1909 destroying several buildings. They rebuilt and the church prospered for years.
In 1926, and exchange of properties occurred between the Methodist Episcopal and Presbyterian churches in Boggstown and Nashville, Indiana. After remodeling the Presbyterian church to include a basement and furnace, the Nashville Methodist Episcopal congregation moved in to the building on the current site.
In 1975, the sanctuary was completely refurbished with new pews and carpet. A new church office, pastor’s study and additional classroom space were added in 1977 between the church and the educational unit. In 1982, a new Baldwin organ was dedicated and in 1984 the bell tower rebuilt to pattern the original one.
By the late 1980s, the church had outgrown the space again and embarked on a search for new property elsewhere in the county. We purchased property on Old State Road 46, but part of the congregation wanted to stay in the current location, in the heart of the community. IN the fall of 2000, the congregation finally voted to build a new church on the site of the existing one, while retaining the historical look. The last service in the old sanctuary was held May 20, 2001, and then demolished to make way for the new building. The congregation met at the Brown County High School auditorium while the new building was being constructed. On May 12, 2002, services were held in the new sanctuary, able to hold twice the number of people.
NUMC history courtesy of Nel Hamilton