HISTORY - 60 YEARS OF FAITH AND LEGACY
On August 21, 2022, the congregation of Williamsburg United Methodist Church observed the 250th anniversary of the beginning of the Methodist movement in America’s colonial capital. In the summer of 1772, Joseph Pilmore, a Methodist lay preacher sent by John Wesley to organize Methodist Societies in America, made a wide southern tour of Maryland, Virginia, and the Carolinas. Pilmore arrived at Jamestown landing by boat and made his way to Williamsburg to preach in the local theater and on Palace Green. On hearing him, the rector of Bruton Parish Church courteously welcomed Pilmore into his pulpit, and interest in the Methodist message of repentance and transforming Grace built swiftly. Williamsburg Methodists met in small, intimate groups together and continued regular communion as members of Bruton Parish Church.
Francis Asbury, the first bishop of the Methodist Church in America, made several visits to Williamsburg beginning in 1781, at times preaching from the steps of the Court House of 1770. Ultimately, American Methodists separated from the Anglican (or Episcopal) Church in 1784; in Williamsburg that transition would be gentle and gradual. William McKendree, later a distinguished bishop, became an early itinerant pastor in 1785 on the Williamsburg Circuit, which extended from Old Point Comfort in Hampton to Hanover (near Richmond) after 1785.
In the early 1800s, our congregation began meeting in a small frame building on Francis Street near the former colonial Capitol. In 1842, a brick Methodist Episcopal Church was built across from the old Court House. When our faith family outgrew that space, a larger Methodist Church building was constructed in 1926 on the corner of Duke of Gloucester and North Boundary Street. In 1963, the congregation made the bold decision to let this space go and move to its present location at 500 Jamestown Road, directly across from the College of William and Mary and adjacent to the Wesley Foundation ministry to college students. A major new addition was then added to the building in 2006 to accommodate our day school, many 12-Step groups, thriving Scout Troop (itself nearly 100 years old!) and more than 2,000 members.
Williamsburg United Methodist Church remains dedicated to the original mission of making disciples in our community for the transformation of God’s world. We offer a wide range of ministries and host a broad array of community groups, giving special attention each week to small children, those who love learning music, and to adults with memory loss. It is our privilege to share God’s love with the Williamsburg and College of William and Mary communities, in a mission context so richly steeped in history.
We earnestly invite you to experience the love of God expressed in Jesus Christ here, and become part of our unfolding story.
For more detailed information on our history and origin, click here.
Our recent celebration of the 60th Anniversary of our church's groundbreaking at 500 Jamestown Rd was made even more special by the presence of a remarkable individual, Mr. Baxter Carr, who played a pivotal role in shaping our church's destiny.
Imagine standing in the presence of a centenarian whose vision and dedication helped shape the very building in which the congregation gathers today. Listening to Mr. Carr's firsthand accounts of the church's early days, the challenges they faced, and the determination that drove their vision was nothing short of inspiring!