In early 1900, a small group of dedicated Christians met for worship services in a one room, frame house located in a wooded section between Oleander Drive and Park Avenue, near Giles Avenue.
After a small parcel of land, less than half an acre on Vann Avenue, was donated by Mr. and Mrs. M. C. Huggins in 1921, the congregation had the opportunity to purchase a small wooden chapel, known as the Greenville Chapel, from the St. Andrews Episcopal Church. This small chapel was located on Wrightsville Sound and was moved in sections to the Seagate area and rebuilt in its original design on the donated land and became known as the Seagate Methodist Church.
In late 1956, Rev. Ernest Smotherman saw the need for a larger, more centrally located church, with room for expansion in the years to come as well as more parking facilities. He was instrumental in having a lot donated by Mrs. Lizzie Rogers, as well as securing a second one from her at a reasonable price.
Application was made and approved for financial assistance from the Conference’s Board of Missions and plans were approved to start construction of a new building. The church was completed in 1957 and with Oleander becoming an outgrowth of the Seagate Methodist Church, the Seagate congregation was disbanded.
The opening service in the Oleander United Methodist Church was held on September 8th, 1957 with Rev. Jack Newsome, our first minister, and Bishop Paul L. Garber officiating. Dr. J. E. Garlington, the District Superintendent, delivered the sermon.
Furnishings for the new church – the curved altar rail, pulpit and the two pulpit chairs – were transferred from the Seagate Methodist Church to the Oleander Church. The brass altar pieces and hymnals were donated by various members. Contributions were made to purchase pews to be given in memory or honor of loved ones. These pews have an inscribed bronze plate showing the donors. The baptismal font was given in memory of Mrs. Ruth Sisk by relatives and friends. The first organ was purchased with steady pledges from faithful members.
In December 1964 the final payment was made on the building loan. It became debt free and was dedicated. Rev. Belton Joyner was the minister at the time and Bishop Garber gave the address. Rev. Clyde C. Boggs, the District Superintendent and Rev. LeFon Vereen, Executive Secretary of the Board of Missions, also attended the ceremony.
Oleander has had four sister churches since its inception. First it was on a charge with Harbor Island Methodist Church and Epworth Methodist. In 1961 Oleander was united with the newly formed Pine Valley Methodist Church. In 1971 Oleander was in a position to go on its own, but in 1981 it again went into partnership with another church, Devon Park Methodist Church. Now Oleander is a “station” church, which means that the church is once again self-supporting thanks to the dedication of a wonderful congregation and pastor.
Originally, Oleander shared a parsonage with Harbor Island and Epworth but when that one was sold, Oleander built its first parsonage at 5711 Wisteria Lane, on a lot donated by John R. Hines and family. The parsonage has since been sold.
And as we reflect on our past, let us also look forward to a blessed and prosperous future by following God’s example in the community.
Our Parr Building was dedicated in June 2009. Join us for all kinds of activities there throughout the week! Here is a gallery of pictures taken as the construction of the building was going on until it was finished. (Photos by Donna Robbins, Richard Brasie, Wendy Robbins).