Early History of Kingswood United Methodist Church
Written by Mrs. Laura Hove
October 16, 1983 – 15th Anniversary of Kingswood
Kingswood United Methodist Church officially began worship in a study hall at Peachtree High School, September 8, 1968. On that first day forty persons were received into the membership. Originally known as “North Peachtree United Methodist Mission,” the congregation became chartered with seventy-six members.
The name “Kingswood” was chosen because it was in Kingswood, England that John Wesley first preached in the out-of-doors. This was significant because Wesley, as an Anglican priest, brought his message to the people in their locale instead of merely waiting for the people to come to the church.
On December 14, 1969, the church moved into Chesnut Elementary School cafetorium. The change was made because there was more room at Chesnut and regular chairs could be used instead of desks with study arms. In the same year the pastor, Rev. Orion Hunt, and his family were able to move into a newly purchased parsonage at Coldstream Dr. and Peeler Road.
The name “Kingswood” was chosen because it was in Kingswood, England that John Wesley first preached in the out-of-doors.
In 1974 the church moved into its first sanctuary located at its present site. There were 532 members and an operating budget of nearly $100,000. The building was made possible thanks to the generosity of members, the support of the conference and builders club, the gifts from other local UM congregations, and anonymous donation of $10,000 from a non-church neighbor and friend. This first unit soon became too small and in 1977 we added on the education wing, moved the music department and pastor’s office and turned the sanctuary around. In 1983 more space is again needed and a third building committee is trying to solve the problem.
Since the pastorate of Orion Hunt and his “pioneer labors,” the church has continued to grow. About 600 persons were on the rolls in 1974 when Joe Bowen became the new pastor. In 1980 Dr. Juel Sealey succeeded Rev. Bowen as pastor.
The church had approximately 1,100 members. Other ministers serving in various positions have included: Mike McFarland, Bob Luton, David Powell, Martha Forrest, Sally Osmer, Don Clarke, George Owen, Betsy Anderson, and Lynne Alley.
Roger Hove has directed the music ministry since the church was founded. Other music staff has included: Julian Turner, Rev. Kathy Cook and Suzanne Scott.
Kingswood’s new enthusiastic congregation immediately started programs for children, youth, and adults. People willingly taught in the new church school and it grew, and grew, and grew! There are now twenty three church school classes. A youth fellowship (UMYF) was formed as soon as possible. Through the years the church has opened her doors and continued to grow. It has from the beginning maintained a woman’s society, now known as United Methodist Women. A choir of ten sang at our first service. The adult choir presently numbers about forty and presents several major programs a year. Children and youth choirs were begun almost immediately. In recent years several new approaches to ministry have been experienced by the congregation: a singles and singles again group, an annual fall family seminar, a sexuality course for our youth, a clowning group, exercise classes, a Parents Morning Out, and a full summer program for pre-school children. All of these many programs have helped the church grow not only in numbers but in commitment to the Lord. The church has shown outreach through Appalachian Service Projects, Kings Men concerts, helping with downtown soup kitchen, CARE Fellowship, Wesley Woods’s visitation and many more. Seven people have gone into full time ministry from Kingswood.
Kingswood has had many fine days in its history and with God’s blessing and a continuation of its heritage of inspired leadership and congregational support, it will go on to serve the Lord in the finest possible way.