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 The History of the United Methodist Church

In England, in 1729, a small group of Oxford University students were ridiculed as "Methodists," because they spent so much time in methodical prayer, outreach, and Bible study. Led by John Wesley, the students ignored jeering crowds and preached, prayed, and worked with people considered lower classes of English society.

Methodists emigrated to North America, formed societies of believers, and worshiped in the Charlotte area as early as 1783. In 1784, the Methodist Church became the first denomination in the United States established after the American Revolution, and our first bishop, Francis Asbury, greeted George Washington at his inauguration. Until the middle of the 20th century, Methodists were the largest denomination in the United States. The United Methodist Church is the result of a merger in 1968 of several similar churches.

The History of St. Stephen UMC

St. Stephen United Methodist Church began on June 10, 1968, when the Bishop of the Western North Carolina Conference appointed the Rev. Jim Armstrong to establish a church in the southeast part of Charlotte.

The first worship service was held on September 8, 1968 at Lansdowne Elementary School. Sixty-nine members joined on that Sunday night. After this service, Rev. Armstrong met with people who were interested in starting a church school. Enough people volunteered to have three classes: one for elementary children, one for youth, and an adult class. The first classes met in the school cafeteria and in the hallways. For six months the congregation met in Lansdowne School; then were invited to move into Sardis Presbyterian's old church sanctuary.

In December 1968, the Charlotte District Mission Society purchased eight acres of land at the corner of Sardis Road and Lutomma Circle the future church site. After nearly three years of worshiping in a vacated Presbyterian church building and with a growth up to almost 400 members, St. Stephen was ready to occupy and consecrate its new church building on March 5, 1972.

The church has had a total of four building campaigns in its history: First, for the sanctuary and education wing from the sanctuary to the current preschool office; in 1985, the gym and education wing from the sanctuary to the gym; in 1993, the education wing from the preschool office to the fireside room; and in 2005, the youth wing, new preschool wing, and front parking lot.