History of Mount Vernon United Methodist Church

THE SIXTH DECADE: 1934 – 1944

The new decade began with a new pastor – Rev. Dr. Thomas F. Carroll, who was considered to be one of the best preachers in the Virginia Conference! Reverend Carroll immediately addressed ways to increase attendance at Sunday evening services and Wednesday prayer meetings. During this time Mount Vernon celebrated its fiftieth anniversary, the city of Danville celebrated the one-hundredth anniversary of Methodism in Danville, and the 150th anniversary of Methodism in America was celebrated.

1930's Sunday School Class

In 1935, once again church repairs were needed … once again the roof was leaking and there was standing water in the basement ... and repairs were needed at the parsonage. Despite economic hard times, Dr. Carroll led the membership to raise $12,000 for repairs, and all conference obligations were paid. It was also during this time that a new purchasing policy was established for the church — the expenditure of any sum of $5 or more would need authorization.

In 1937, Jeanette Van Arsdale, a graduate of Westminster Choir School, was hired as music director. She not only played the organ and directed the adult choir, but established a choir for youth and one for children. Over 100 voices sang in the Christmas cantata that year and she continued working with the music program until she got married in 1940.

As Dr. Carroll was completing his fourth year of work at Mount Vernon, the Board of Stewards was convinced that the bishop would not reappoint him for a fifth year. They took it upon themselves to begin a letter writing campaign to the bishop and to his cabinet. Fearing their wishes had not been taken seriously, the church sent a committee to meet with the bishop with pleas that Dr. Carroll’s work at Mount Vernon was not finished. Fearing their wishes still might not be granted, they communicated with the bishop that if…if Dr. Carroll were returned to Mount Vernon, his salary would be increased from $4,000 to $5,000. However, if he were not returned to Mount Vernon, they would offer a salary of only $4,000. Dr. Carroll was reappointed to Mount Vernon.

The following year, knowing that the bishop would not reappoint Dr. Carroll, the Board of Stewards communicated their first and second choices to the bishop. Rev. Dr. John B. Winn was their first choice, The Rev. Dr. John Winn, Mount Vernon Methodist Church, Danville, 1928and when he heard of the church’s request, he contacted the bishop and assured the bishop that he would love to go back to Mount Vernon … for the third time!

Reverend Winn had to deal immediately with Conference plans to “unite” or reunite the Methodists – the Methodist Episcopal Church South and the Methodist Protestant Church. Despite objections elsewhere in the South, it didn’t seem to be an issue for Mount Vernon, other than having to change the name of the church on the weekly bulletins.

During this decade there were two more attempts to use the "triangle" space in front of the church to honor someone. The first request came from the city to construct a memorial monument to honor Mayor Harry Wooding. Despite an engineer’s claim that the church only owned six inches of the plot, the church let it be known they would fight to keep the triangle from becoming a memorial site. Eventually, the statue of Mayor Wooding was placed on the front steps of the Municipal Building.

The second attempt to use the triangle space as a memorial came from the daughter of Green Penn, who wanted the city to erect a monument there to those Confederates who had died …with the stipulation that the monument was to be a bronze bust of her father. For this she would give the city $5,000 and the church $500. However, if the city did not do this, $4,000 was to be left to Mount Vernon and was to be invested with the profit going to the general expenses of the church. Once again the church took a “fighting stance”…received the $4,000, and invested it in U. S. Savings Bonds.

Shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack, the Board of Stewards voted for the church to be used for registration for the war emergency. Eventually, more than one hundred members of the church enlisted to serve their country.

Rev. Dr. J. H. Pearson served as Mount Vernon’s pastor for the next four years, providing quiet leadership, while increasing membership and seeing that all Conference financial obligations were met.

However, this decade closed with church maintenance issues. The city’s fire inspector had condemned the church basement! It was considered a fire hazard because anything and everything had accumulated there. The matter was turned over to the Board of Trustees.

To the seventh decade


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June 2009