Monday, November 17, 2014

Our History at St. John's by Bob Laughlin

It was in May of 1954, sixty years ago, that Charlotte and I came to St. John’s.  We were just married, and I was returning to Rock Hill after my discharge from the army.  Charlotte and I were married while I was in the separation center, so we were truly JUST MARRIED!  Charlotte was an active member of her church choir and wanted to continue the music she loved.  Her desire was to attend a downtown church, but we planned to visit several churches to find the church we would call “home”.
Our first visit was to St. John’s, and the greeting was so very warm and friendly that we never visited another church.  Charlotte was dismayed when she heard the choir under the direction of Dr. Walter Roberts, the head of the music department at Winthrop!  She thought that the choir was much to good for her to be eligible to sing with them!  The following Wednesday evening, while I was at work, the minister came to visit.  When she voiced her disappointment about not being good enough for the choir, the minister disagreed.  In fact, to prove his point, the minister drove her to choir practice right then.  She was thrilled to find that Dr. Roberts was happy to have her, and she remained happily in the choir for over fifty years.  Over the years, she was also active in many others areas such as circle leader, and other offices in the United Methodist Women.
Four adult Sunday school classes existed at that time: the A.M Graham men’s class, the Belle Bennett ladies class taught by Belle Bennett, The Browning-Sykes the middle aged couples class, and the Barber Harden young adults class.  We met many of our closest Rock Hill friends in the Barber Harden class. 
After a few years, I was asked to be responsible for ordering all the Sunday School literature.  I also began helping in the Sunday school office on Sunday mornings.  As life usually happens, on thing led to another, and I eventually accepted the office of Sunday School Superintendent, a job I have enjoyed for almost 40 years.
During our stay at St. John’, we have seen many changes and several building programs, including: enlargement of the parking lot at the corner of White Street and St. John’s court, the extension of the Sunday School wing, the purchase of two parsonages, the building of the Family Life Center, and now the building of the Children and Youth Building.  What a wonderful sign of growth and strength of the congregation!
Our children also had the privilege of growing up in St. John’s and having the influence of the leaders in the education department from nursery department through the youth department to help mold their character.  As adults, they have both accepted leadership roles in their churches.  It have been a true joy and privilege for us to be members of this congregation for the last sixty years.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Memories from St. Johns UMC – 1956---- By Harry M. Dalton

‘Becca and I with two young children moved to Rock Hill the first week of 1956. We visited three Methodist churches and decided that St. John’s was the place we wanted for our family. We joined the wonderful folks in James Barber Sunday school class. We recall a few of those welcoming us: Stanley and Millie Byers, Mary and Jeff Jeffords, Rice and Joann McMaster, and Bettye and Curtis Rawls. This was prior to our Bowater friends arrival in Rock Hill. The class met in the room which adjoins the main balcony. The church had just added a three story addition for our youth parallel to St. John’s Court. A primary street entrance faced a house serving as the parsonage.

By 1959 ‘Becca and I had added two more children to the family. When the fourth was born on a Friday in 1959, Harry took the other three (ages 2, 4, and 6) to Sunday school. As they trooped past Joann McMaster, she was heard to exclaim, “Can you believe they just added another one on Friday?”

Like most other young families we shared many Sunday mornings seated on the floors of rooms serving as crib nursery, nursery, and kindergarten for our children and those of others parents. What wonderful friends, young and old, we made there!

By 1965, we devoted most of our time to church and family. Harry, of course, had a business to run at Star Paper Tube (Caraustar). But, when not at work, time was split between family and church. For ‘Becca this meant chairing the committee to open the first day-time kindergarten for St. Johns. She recalls working with Dr. Rosemary Althouse and Sue Wayne on that committee. ‘Becca continued as chair of the committee for more than a decade.

Harry chose to work with junior high and senior high youth. Most of all he enjoyed counseling and teaching. It was always a bittersweet moment for him to see the group he enjoyed so much leave for college or move into jobs. He recalls with nostalgia the period when Rev. James Freeman joined St Johns as Minister of Education. Activities for youth included our version of a “spiritual values” coffee  house, dozens of weekend retreats at Asbury Hills Methodist Retreat, Garden City Chapel, Lake Junaluska, Camp Thunderbird and many day trips.  For short excursions, St. Johns used a “retired” Dodge or Reo school bus painted light blue. Our youth called it “Ole Blue”. Harry and Conrad Quattlebaum were drivers. The vehicle was serviced by St. John’s member Dorth Falls in his shop. 

Often on Sunday evening as many as 75 youth would pack the basement Fellowship Hall for a program of activities and light supper. It required a large group of volunteers to prepare food for such a throng. In 1970 we only dreamed of a facility like the “Core” that our youth enjoy today. We were cramped for space and had limited amount of equipment. But, good fellowship and lifelong friendships developed. Harry felt his own value system was strengthened by his exposure to those wonderful youth.

Youth who we still see regularly are Lloyd Case, Wes and Mary Ann (Sturgis) Helton, Ben Johnson, Henry McMaster, Mary Jane (Byars) Shuler, Glenn Rawls, and Susan Herdman. Harry continues to hear from many others. He claims that the youth of the 1960s-1970s generation taught him much more about life’s values than he was able to teach them. He loved them all and misses them very much.

Mr. Dan Hollis, Sr. was our spiritual leader during our early years at St. Johns. Among others whose most tender touches we recall were Herb Carruth, Morrie and Susie Morgan, Bob and Evelyn Ashworth, Rice McMaster, and Bill and Nan Ross. That list could be multiplied by one hundred and more

‘Becca served in church circles, usually as a co-chair. She was attracted mostly to a circle she lovingly named a “little old ladies” group. She kept no record of years she served as chairperson but Harry says “it must have been twenty or more.” Most of its members could no longer drive. So,’Becca usually arrived at circle with her car loaded with senior ladies. Once ‘Becca told Harry that several ladies suggested they “drive to Charlotte for a movie” and skip circle. All had a good laugh over that. ‘Becca still thinks of her “senior angels” among her best friends.

St. Johns has provided us with a fine base for spiritual growth. We have known loving senior staff from Francis Cunningham in the 1950s to Debra Quilling-Smith today. All have contributed much to our lives. We have enjoyed hundreds of fine friends who are living examples of the teachings of Jesus.