In a little log school house in Trussville, Methodist families met to worship, give testimony, pray, visit and sing. At this time there were no organized choirs, organs, songbooks or even a choir loft. The man or woman, usually a man, who knew a song, would stand before the group as the “line setter”. He would sing a line and then the congregation would repeat. Not to sing was to be quite ill.
After the log building, the first church was located where the Trussville Board of Education and the bank are now located (across the street from our existing church). It was built around 1869 by Billy Tinsley’s great grandfather. This was the same property that John Truss had given to his daughter – Nancy Jane Truss Reed. According to records available, Rev. Francis Grace was the first minister. The date of the first service is not known, however, our corner stone says ‘founded in 1867′. There is an original deed stored in the bank of a deed from Thos. Truss and wife A. Truss to the Methodist Church.
The new Methodist church building was like a square box with a vestibule and a tall steeple and bell for ringing to call people to church. The members bought a bell and huge it in the steeple. The bell tolled when a church members passed away and tolled for the funeral. It was rung twice for Sunday School and once for church or any other gathering. There are two different accounts of what happened to the bell. Reed’s history says it was given to the Negro Church and Praytor’s history says it was taken down and carried to the high school.
In this building, the Sunday School classrooms were partitioned off by dividing curtains that hung on wires. The church was lighted by oil lamps that hung on the wall between the windows and a circle of lamps that hung from the ceiling. A large heater was used to heat the building. There was a pump organ, which was later replaced by a piano. The ladies of the church kept it clean and worked hard to raise money for the upkeep. They gave oyster suppers, ice cream suppers and made quilts and sold them.
In 1937 negotiations for the exchange of teh Methodist Church property for the Trussville Elementary School property was begun. Reverend R. E. Tyler was pastor of the church at that time. He began negotiations with the Jefferson County Board of Education for the property across the road. L.L Epps, J.S. Vann and L.P Tucker, trustees of the church paid five dollars to the grantors, the County Board of Education. The deed was signed by Harry Denman, J.E Bryan, superintendent and W.A. Berry, all members of the county board on the 24th day of Mary 1938. To make the school into a church, approximately $1,000 was spent. In May 1938, services were held in the “new church”. The cost of the trade of property was $5.00.
When the old church was torn down in 1938, the Bible was presented to Samuel Joel Vann, father of Enos, Viola, Eleanor and Joe B. Vann. The presentation was in honor of the oldest living member of the church.
By history and church records we find that the first service was held in the “new sanctuary” on May 8th, 1938. Rev. R.E. Tyler was pastor at that time. There were 80 members and friends present. There are pictures of the church and the choirs in place at this time. The church was located on the present site of the Trussville United Methodist Church. The annex on the south of the new church building was added and the basement dug out and finished for Sunday school classrooms. Of interest, especially to the boys, may be the fact that the digging out the basement, some graved were uncovered, but they weren’t able to tell if these were Indian graves, slaves or some of the early settlers. To make the school building an adequate church for the ever increasing membership, a basement was added. It contained 5 church schoolrooms, the sanctuary and the pastor’s study. The building was painted inside and out and the main floor had hardwood floors in every room.
On November 9, 1959 Rev. W.C. (Bill) Davis’ report begins with, “We have torn down a church and begun having two morning worship services in the social room of the educational building during this transitional stage of building.” The church was authorized to borrow $100,000 at 6.5% interest and payable over 12 years. The new church was finally completed and the first service was on Easter Sunday 1960. It was a wonderful facility and a joy to all members and pride to the community. This continued the history of Trussville First.
In all this, we must remember that there are some dates and possibly names that are wrong – mainly because nothing was written down and information was word or mouth.