Supreme Ambition Ministries

To Know Christ and to Make Him Known – Philippians 3:10

A CITY SET ON A HILL

The photograph to the left is the building in which I first heard the gospel preached. I say it is the ‘building’ and not the ‘Church’, because most of us know that a Church is not made of wood, and stained-glass windows but is rather an organic blending of lives present and past, who make us, in part, who we are today. As you can see the Beech Hill United Methodist Church recently celebrated her 150th anniversary on July 20th. This little Church is nestled in the hills of West Virginia in a close-knit community. It is about 45 miles north of Charleston and 10 miles south of Point Pleasant in the Great Kanawha River valley. Kathi and I were privileged to attend this celebration, which included both morning and early afternoon services separated by dinner on the grounds provided by the brothers and sisters of the present congregation. The building was packed with 200 plus people. If I were writing a news article, it might end here. However, the experience of that day will remain with me for some time to come.

This little church in the wildwood is not much compared to the mega-churches and super-ministries of the 21st century but for me, and I’m sure many of those in attendance, the importance of Beech Hill cannot be easily exaggerated. As I sat there in the old pews I knew as a child and youth (they now have padding on them), memories flooded my mind. I tried to hold back the tears as we sang the hymns, listened to the choir, and rejoiced together (I didn’t succeed). From the time I first walked through the door into the sanctuary my mind was flooded with memories. The familiar odors conjured up thoughts of my past, some of which I would just as soon have forgotten and others I cherished. I looked at the faces of people, who, like me, had first come to know the blessed Savior because of messages preached and lives of holiness lived in that place. I recalled the conviction my soul felt during those spring and fall revival meetings just prior to and after my conversion. I thought of those who had impacted my life by teaching me in Sunday school and, it was almost as if I could hear one of the former pastors quoting the text from the gospels, “O, Jerusalem, Jerusalem! Thou who killeth the prophets, and stones them, who are sent to you, how oft I would have gathered you under my wings as a hen gathereth her brood and ye would not.” The shadow of his tall frame was silhouetted on the wall behind the pulpit from the poor lighting in the sanctuary, but it seemed to add to the solemnity of the moment. As he would quote those words, the truth of them would get deep within me. Interestingly, much of my own ministry has been related to that scripture and the burden of the Church. I have longed and preached for nearly 40 years that the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ would be gathered together under his wings of love and obedience.

As I began to make plans to attend the celebration, I noticed that Beech Hill was established in 1858. Being somewhat knowledgeable about Church history, I recalled the last truly great outpouring of God’s Spirit upon this nation was from 1857-1860. It has been called by different names, the ‘second great awakening’, and the ‘great prayer revival’. This move of God occurred because of the burden of a Manhattan Island, New York business man named, Jeremiah Lamphier. He was so burdened for his city and the nation that he announced a prayer meeting in the Old Dutch Reformed Church on Fulton St. in Manhattan. In a few weeks there were so many people praying in NYC that they filled all the theaters. Souls began to be saved all up and down the eastern coast and into the Midwest and the south. It is said that by the time the Civil war began that one third of all Americans were new converts. I believe Beech Hill was a part of that outpouring of God’s Spirit. She is not a large Church. In fact, most would say she is rather insignificant. But I challenge you to try and convince the thousands, who have come to know Christ in the last 150 years both directly and indirectly from this little ‘city set on a hill’. I’m reminded of an old song. “Little is much, when God is in it; labor not for wealth or fame. There’s a crown and you can win it, if you go in Jesus’ name.” I applaud those of the Beech Hill community, who are laboring in Christ’s vineyard. Be encouraged! If you ever wonder, whether or not you made a difference, I’m oneā€¦of many. Thank you.

July 29th, 2008 Posted by | Church | 4 comments

4 Responses to “A CITY SET ON A HILL”

  1. Dave,
    What a great memory. Thank you for sharing it. I am another who’s life has been impacted by Beech Hill Church. I remember attending when we were on vacation visiting my grandparents and you. Walking out in the middle of the service to go downstairs for Sunday School was strangely new and different for me. The atmosphere in the basement was always cool and damp. It was a bit unnerving for me to sit with children I didn’t know, but I got through it.

    Even though I have memories of visiting Beech Hill, most of the real impact to my life was through the lives of those who were both regular members and close members of my family; my grandparents, my dad and you. Thank you to Beech Hill members present and past.

  2. Dear Pastor Dave,

    I loved reading the posting about the 150th Beech Hill Church celebration! Terry and I have been past that church many times, but did not realize that it was where you were converted or the history of its beginnings. Very interesting! We’ll pay more attention to that small, but important church the next time we pass it.

  3. My memories of Beech Hill Church are too many to share here. This is where I found the Lord and Sally Wears was the one who led me to Jesus. I remember her sweet voice saying Larry don’t you want to be a Christian. My answer was yes. I was later baptized in the river at Leon landing. I am old enough now to understand why Old Man Floyd Hickinbothom could not get into the water and was poured. I remember the 100th anniversery and my mother interviewing people and writing the history at that time. The older ones told her of remembering the Union and Confederit troops marching on the road below the church. I remember when there was no basement, no power, no heat except a potbelley stove and no stain glass windows. When I was a child we parked at the bottom of the hill and walked up to the church. I visit some times when I am in the area vacationing it helps to refill my cup and visit my mother and fathers graves. Larry Anderson

  4. I also have lots of memories of Beech Hill Church. I attented Sunday School and Worship there until I was married .Jerry and I attended some after we were married until the bridge colapsed in 1967. I remember my class was on the left side in the front pew. As Larry said, it was one room with the pot belly stove, no pad on the pews or AC. But the sun shining in through the stained glass on a bright Sunday morning was wonderful to behold.

    I was saved there when I was an early teen and have been serving Our Lord since.

    I remember Grandpa Lewis leading the singing. On my first visit to his home during the week I knew how he felt about the singing on Sunday. I had to stand beside his chair and sing the songs back to him until he was satisfied I knew how he wanted them sung. Even today when we sing some of the old hymns I hear him in my ear and I like it.