History of Banks United Methodist Church

It is impossible to obtain a complete history of Banks Methodist Church because of insufficient historical data and the lack of detailed records. This history will suffice to give those interested in a historical sketch of Banks United Methodist Church.

It is generally accepted by historians and genealogists who are familiar with the early history of
Granville County that Thomas Banks came to Granville County from Carolina County, Virginia. The first land transaction in Granville County to which Thomas Banks was a party was made in August 1762. The deed shows that Thomas Banks purchased from William Gray 253 ½ acres of land for the price of 66 pounds an 16 shillings. The present church lot and structure are within the boundary of the land obtained by Thomas Banks in this purchase. In all transfers of this property from this date, an exception is made for sometimes one and on occasion two acres "for Banks Chapel" church property.

There are numerous records concerning the activities of Thomas Banks in
Granville County from 1762 until 1784-5. He bought and sold many tracts of land in addition to being a juryman and operating a tavern. He was Justice of the Peace in 1774 and 1775. Record evidence that he administered the Oath of Allegiance to many citizens. He continued to serve in this capacity after the state government was formed. Thomas Banks along with his son, Ralph Banks, and other members of the family, moved to Wilkes County Georgia in 1784 or 1785.

Banks Chapel was originally an Anglican Church. The records of Mr. A. A. Hicks tell of the establishment of Banks Chapel.

An order having been passed by the General Assembly establishing the Church of England in
North Carolina was accepted in good faith in Granville County. In accordance with the law a Glebe was purchased consisting of 400 acres. A parish house was constructed thereon and a ministered furnished by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel lived there. He served St. John’s Church at Williamsboro, St. George’s Chapel at Harrisburg, and Banks Chapel which was 12 miles southwest of Oxford and Harrisburg . Two miles east of Harrisburg was a crossroad. The southern end of it has been known for 160 years as the Banks road as it lead from the Glebe Road to Banks Chapel. No deed was ever found for said chapel, but there are many deeds conveying this original William Gray – Thomas Banks tract of land, all deeds since 1762 excepting 1 or more acres for the Chapel.

The deed for the land for Banks Chapel was issued to trustees John Smith, Pleasant Floyd, Eaton J. White, James Wych, W. R. White, Wesley Whitfield, and William Mayes.

Mr. Fred A. Olds in The Orphan’s Friend about 1922 designates Banks Chapel as a Colonial Church of England and tells the story of the Anglican minister who was ejected bodily from the sanctuary. Mr. A. A. Hicks also relates the story:

In the early days of the American Revolution the Rector, using his Anglican prayer book, asked the Lord to preserve the King of England; whereupon the congregation arose, chased him from the sanctuary and tore his surplice from him as he passed through the door.

Precisely when Banks Chapel withdrew form the Established church and cast its lot with the infant Methodist Societies seems to be a matter of conjecture. By 1780, according to the records of Mrs. Robert Rose, Banks was a member of the Tar River Circuit. This was one of three circuits at that time, and it had a membership of 900.

The first Methodist Bishop in
America, Francis Asbury, visited in the Banks Chapel community on several occasions. In 1780 he was the guest of Col. Edmund Taylor at which time "he preached at the schoolhouse." In his memoirs of 1804, Bishop Asbury mentions a great revival on this circuit. The following year a conference was held at Col. Taylor’s home.

The next date of established fact is 1831 when George N. Gregory, grandfather of N. H. D. Wilson, served here. He was followed by James Reid who was buried at
Louisburg. Prominent in early Methodism in America was Peter Doub who succeeded Mr. Reid. Until this period, the Tar River Circuit was under the jurisdiction of the Virginia Conference. In 1837, the North Carolina Conference was formed which embraced this area

Sydney D. Bumpass was appointed in 1844. He originated the first church paper. The Duke University Library has some rare copies of this paper in its collection.

As the result of increased membership, it was necessary to divide the Tar River Circuit. In 1889, the Franklinton Circuit was formed. The first Minister under the new plan of organization was Edward Lee Pell who edited Pell’s Notes in

Constant growth and expansion demanded the creation of a new conference. Banks Chapel remained in The North Carolina Conference which served the eastern portion of the state. The new conference was designated The Western Carolina Conference. Ministers of Banks Chapel During this era between 1890-94 were H. D. Wilson, W. S. Davis, and George Bascombe Perry.

W.E. Coltrane who began the effort to secure lumber for a new church at Banks. He was followed by W. W. Rose, who ministered in the Banks Chapel community during the years 1909 through 1912. Dr. J. A. Morris recalled Mr. Rose’s asking the congregation from the pulpit one morning, "Will you meet me here next Wednesday?" The result of that meeting was the present church building. It is probably the fourth structure constructed somewhere near the original site of the first Banks Chapel. It was built partly from the lumber of 12 trees cut from the church yard. The actual cost was $3,500.00. Mrs. Sam Vane of Franklinton and Mrs. Ed Bobbitt gave the beautiful pillars which grace the front entrance. From records left by Lilia Suitt, we find that the new church was dedicated on
July 29-30, 1911. The first wedding in the new church was that of Alma Lane to Mr. Rice in October of 1912.

The old church structure was sold to Dr. J. A. Morris and was reassembled as a barn on his farm. It may be seen at the same location which is the I. L. Jenkins farm. The old building had two front entrances. It was customary in the nineteenth century for the men to sit on one side of the church, and the women to sit on the other. As Mrs. J. A. Morris often said, "The women sat on the left, the men on the right, and the babies cried in the middle pews."

In 1917 reorganization was again necessary. Banks was added to the Creedmoor charge, and Timothy A. Sykes was appointed minister.

Outstanding during the ministry of B. E. Stanfield was the erection of our Sunday School annex in 1927. Two building plans were presented to a church conference by the board of architects of the church. A plan was unanimously agreed upon, providing for a two-story building with six classrooms joined to the sanctuary by a corridor.

For over a century members of the Matt Satterwhite Sr. family have served as custodians for Banks church.

Under the leadership of Morris J, Byers, who came in 1956, many changes took place at Banks. Interest was begun to build a parsonage at Banks. Mr. Byers worked diligently to began construction before his departure in June of 1960. Led by Mr. Byers, the congregation rose to the challenge facing it. On
May 8, 1960 a motion was made by R. A. Dixon and seconded by Mrs. L. B. Flintom, that we accept the contract bid of Roberts’ Brothers Builders in the amount of $13,700.00. Soon afterward, construction began on the parsonage. Mr. Byers himself spent laid the brick and spent long hours in physical labor on the new structure.

Two months later, the Creedmoor Circuit divided. Creedmoor became a station church, and the Banks-Grove Hill Charge was made a student appointment in the
Durham district of the North Carolina Conference. Stuart I. MacRae, a student at the Divinity School of Duke University, was appointed minister of the newly created charge. Mr. McRae lived in the home of Mrs. Tom Dixon until the parsonage was completed in September.

The effect of having the minister live in the immediate vicinity for the first time stimulated new interest and zeal Full scale youth and choir programs were developed. New church furnishings were acquired. The Women’s Society of Christian Service worked at many projects to secure funds for parsonage furnishings. Many individuals and families contributed to furnishing the parsonage.

In July of 1962, Banks Rose to accept another challenge. It ceased to be a student appointment, and the Banks-Grove Hill charge moved to full-time status. Stuart McRae remained the minister having graduated form Duke in June of 1962. Mr. McRae spent much time with the youth while serving in this charge.

In 1981-82 a church library was organized. Money was donated by the Banks Family Association, and many people within our church gave their time to get the books ready for circulation.

In 1988 Gayla Estes and Rita Bristow were instrumental in starting a Bible Study program for children of pr-school age. They meet on Thursday mornings for Bible study and recreation. Younger youth meet on Sunday afternoon for recreation and fun. The older youth under the direction of David and Anna Swanson meet on Sunday afternoon for Bible instruction. They have also participated in the Duke Children’s Walk and many fund raisers for the church. Others who have donated much of their time in working with the youth were Jim and Mary Lineberger, Bob and Judy Hunt, and Sylvia and Gene Stikeleather.

About 1995, during the time Stuart Tucker was pastor, the corridor from the Sunday School building to the Church was remodeled to include a pair of bathrooms and a hallway connecting the classrooms behind the Sanctuary.

Grove Hill closed it’s doors as a
United Methodist Church on June 20, 2004.  The Banks Congregation decided to become a single station charge at this time.  The first full time pastor was Heather H Wong.  Heather stayed for two(2) years and was replaced by Roger Armistead in June of 2006.  During Roger’s tenure, the congregation realized that supporting a full time pastor was a strain on resources.  After much debate and leadership from the Durham District Superintendent, Gray Southern, the decision was made to return to a Student Appointment.  During this time Banks, with an eye to future pastors decided to build a new parsonage.  Assets were used from the existing parsonage renovation fund, money from Grove Hill designated for the parsonage fund, the Nannie Nevils’ Memorial, the Louise B Preddy Memorial, the Robbinette Husketh Memorial and proceeds from the sale of the existing parsonage.  Stacey Carey Construction built the parsonage for $235,000.  Ground was broken June 8, 2007 and completed in December of 2007.  Construction oversight was provided by the Parsonage Committee.  Joe Gallagher, Chair.  Roger Armistead moved into the parsonage on January 12, 2008.  The new parsonage was dedicated by Bishop Alfred Gwinn on May 18, 2008.   In June of 2008 Cliff Wall was assigned to Banks. 

 Since 2008 Banks’ membership and attendance has increased with many baptisms, professions of faith, and recommitments.  Additionally, the congregation fellowshipped and worshipped together with its sister church, Union Chapel AME Zion, which came out of Banks and the Methodist Episcopal Church South sometime in the 1870’s.  In the fall of 2009 Banks and Union Chapel had two combined worship services, which were preceded by fellowship meals, one at Banks and one at Union Chapel.  Rev. Janice Cooper was extremely thrilled and blessed to be the first African American preacher from Union Chapel to preach from Banks’ pulpit.  Rev. Cliff Wall a few weeks later preached from the Union Chapel pulpit.  This is a promising sign for churches that share a common history that, unfortunately, has been marked by division. 

 Endeavoring to be more focused on evangelism Banks also participated in a ministry with Creedmoor United Methodist Church in 2010 and 2011.  This ministry, called Alpha, is designed to introduce people in the community to the Christian faith and to help existing believers to grow as disciples of Jesus Christ.  In the winter of 2012 Banks offered the Alpha Course for the first time on its own.  There were over 25 people, several of whom were un-churched, who participated in the teaching, and many people from the congregation worked very hard to provide food and childcare for the participants, making our first Alpha Course a great success.

 In the fall of 2010, the congregation also decided to go ahead with plans to raise money to build a new fellowship hall to provide more space for ministry and future growth.  An exploratory committee led by Gary Williford obtained information from other churches that had recently completed similar projects and took suggestions and ideas from attendees at an open meeting for all church members.  After the congregation decided in favor of proceeding to raise the money to build a new fellowship hall, a building committee, chaired by Heber Windley, and a fundraising committee, chaired by Darnelle Averre, was formed to carry out the plans.  By the summer of 2012, over $60,000 dollars had been set aside, and over $60,000 dollars had been raised or donated for the new project.   

 Cliff Wall graduated with a Masters of Divinity from Duke Divinity School in May of 2012, and another Duke student-pastor, Gina Miller, was appointed to serve Banks beginning in July of 2012.  Like Rev. Wall, Rev. Miller is also a Thriving Rural Communities fellow at Duke Divinity School.   

Saturday May 19th 2012 Banks celebrated its 250th year of Christian ministry with a community fun day filled with food and fun for the whole family.  The internationally renowned gospel quartette, “The Envoys”, sang that day as well.  On Sunday May 20th, Banks had a special homecoming service to commemorate its 250th year.  Special guest included members of the Banks family, Banks’ own Rev. Ray Gooch, who grew up at Banks, the Durham District Superintendent, Rev. Dr. Gray Southern, and Bishop Alfred Wesley Gwinn Jr., who delivered the sermon. 

 Banks Methodist Church, though rich in Christian history and steeped in Methodist tradition, is not preoccupied with its past. The eye of the congregation is fixed on the future where there are new depths of God’s love to be experienced and new avenues of service to our neighbors to be traveled. Those who worship here speak as with one voice, "We plan for a glorious future relying on the Grace and Guidance of Almighty God, for we are the sheep of his pasture, and he is our shepherd."

This brief History is taken from the history written for Banks' Homecoming 1991 which was provided by Alma Husketh. Information for that history was obtained from records of Mr. Francis Hayes and Mr. A. A. Hicks of Oxford, Mrs. Robert J. Rose of Franklinton, Dr. J. A. Morris and Mrs. A. F. Breedlove of the Wilton Community for much of the information of our church prior to 1920. We are especially indebted to Mr. J. H. Landrum of Oxford for the detailed account of the Activities of Thomas Banks and of the Banks family.  History updated by Cliff Wall in 2012.
Subpages (1): Timeline