History of Mount Vernon United Methodist Church


This decade (and Mount Vernon's second century) began with the continued outstanding leadership of Rev. Dr. Wasena (Buddy) Wright. Strong pulpit ministry, church programming, and community involvement highlighted his tenure at Mount Vernon. Reverend Wright's doctoral dissertation dealt with suicide, and he truly ministered to the community with his expertise in this area. Mount Vernon probably would have kept him forever, but the bishop had other plans, so he moved in 1986.

Rev. Douglas Wilson served Mount Vernon from 1986 to1988, followed by Rev. Donald Seely for four steady years from 1988 to 1992. Rev. John LeGault began his Mount Vernon ministry in 1992.

During Reverend LeGault's tenure there was a passion for fellowship and outreach. Wednesday night dinners were very popular, with well-planned programs for all ages. Reverend LeGault was frequently heard to say, "We should have five hundred people here every Wednesday night." Five hundred never attended, but on some occasions the stage had to be used to seat everyone.

In 1984 the Mount Vernon Foundation was incorporated, beginning with funds from the estate of J. T. Christopher, long-time principal of George Washington High School and a Mount Vernon member. Lewis Roach was primarily responsible for creating the Foundation, assisted by many others, especially Budge Kent.

During the 1990s, Reverend LeGault strongly supported the Foundation and urged it to set a goal of reaching $1 million before the end of the millennium. Having reached and exceeded that amount (though not before the end of the millennium), the Mount Vernon Foundation has since contributed thousands of dollars in scholarships, gifts to colleges (particularly Averett and Ferrum), and support for mission, music, and youth projects.

The late 1990s was a vital time for music at Mount Vernon. In 1988 the church bought and rebuilt a historic tracker organ. Built in 1860 by Simmons and Willcox for a Congregational church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it had later been moved to a Catholic church, had fallen into disrepair after that church was closed, and had been put in storage by the Organ Historical Society. Following the purchase by Mount Vernon, George Bozeman and Company restored the organ. Eugene Stryker, prominent city musician and a member of Mount Vernon, headed the organ seach committee.

David Bowen was the minister of music at the time of the installation of the organ and was followed by Robert (Bob) Capen, who had a very successful fifteen-year tenure at Mount Vernon, until his retirement.

Under the dynamic leadership of Renee Edwards, the youth program at Mount Vernon soared in the middle years of the decade. At that time our church was the place to be for youth on the southside in Danville. Unfortunately, Edwards left after a few years to move to North Carolina.

The eleventh decade was a successful time the church's history. While there were moments when the church did not soar, it was steady in its ministry. A new organ proved to be a catalyst for the music program, and the youth experienced a vital time for Christian growth and ministry.



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October 2009