History of Wightman United Methodist Church


The first actual church to be built and named Wightman Chapel was dedicated in 1885 by Dr. W. D. Kirkland, Presiding Elder, and was valued at $800. Prior to this, church services were held in any schoolhouse or hall that was available.

There are two legends as to how Wightman Chapel received its name. One is that it was named after one of South Carolina's bishops, William May Wightman. The other is that Wightman Chapel was named for the Bishop's youngest daughter, Miss May Wightman.

In the fall of 1928, the first worship service was held in the new church which was built on a plot offered by Mr. and Mrs. D. J. Langford.

In 1944 the basement was finished to provide classrooms.

In 1952, a new brick parsonage was built on the corner of Main and Brown Streets.

The new educational building was dedicated in 1965 and the new church in 1968. Both of these are modern air-conditioned buildings that fulfill the needs of the church.

A significant achievement in 1975 was the raising of funds to furnish a hospital room in the new Newberry County Hospital.

In February 1982 the last payment was made on our church debt and the sanctuary and upper floor of the Education Building were dedicated by Bishop Roy C. Clark on Sunday, June 27, 1982, during an 11:00 a.m. worship service. Also taking part in the service was our District superintendent Marshall L. Meadors, Jr.; former pastor Raymond Brock, who assisted in burning the mortgage; and Rev. Don Hope, who was serving as pastor of Wightman and Zion at that time. Renovation work was done on the education building and sanctuary in preparation for the Dedication Service and the church bell was mounted in the narthex.

An outdoor sign was begun in the spring of 1982 and completed in July of that year. The roof was reshingled in 1984.

To celebrate the l00th anniversary of our first church building, 100 commemorative plates showing the three buildings were ordered and sold by the History Committee. Also in 1985, the parking lot was graveled and a new heating and cooling unit was installed for the lower floor of the Education Building.

A new Allen Digital Computer 5000 series organ was purchased in 1989. The organ was first used at the morning worship service on Palm Sunday, March 19, and the Service of Dedication was held on May 21.

A 1991 Dodge van was purchased in the spring of 1991 and a carport and driveway were constructed.

In August 1992, the church parking lot was paved.

In June of 1997, Wightman became a station appointment. Wightman and Zion had been part of the same appointment for 108 years.

A special charge conference was held at Wightman on August 18, 1999. The purpose of the conference was to elect a Parsonage Building Committee to oversee the building of a new parsonage. The following were unanimously elected: Ladison Hamm, David Mitchell, Furman Livingston, Jim Stewart, Finley Garvin, Norman Way, Ralph Bowers, Sandra McLain, Karen Bowers, Beth Taylor (ex officio) and the pastor (ex officio). Construction was begun on the parsonage in June of 2000 and Rev. Eddie Taylor and his family moved in on December 28.

The Prosperity Civitan Club disbanded in 2000 and on August 11, the organization deeded its building and adjacent property to Wightman Church.

A service of dedication for the parsonage was held March 11, 2001. District Superintendent Rev. Taylor Campbell participated in the service along with Rev. Eddie Taylor.

At the Administrative Council meeting on September 23, 2001, a motion to change the name of the Civitan Building to the Asbury Bedenbaugh Center was unanimously carried. A service of dedication was held during morning worship on October 14.

A Building Committee, to begin looking into the expansion of Wightman's facilities, was elected at the Charge Conference on October 29, 2001. Members are: Finley Garvin, chairperson; Ladison Hamm, vice-chairperson; Karen Bowers; Rosemary Bowers; Tom Brock; Harold Broughton; Furman Livingston; Pete McLain; Charles Pardee; Larry Spotts; Martha Waller; and Norman Way. Charles Slate, an architect with Ard, Wood, Holcombe & Slate, Inc., in Greenville, was hired in 2002. He developed a 3-phase expansion plan which was presented to the congregation at a special meeting.

The Lighthouse began in the summer of 2002. This program hosts local high school youth each week in a church-owned building where they may play pool, ping-pong, air hockey, bumper pool, foosball, video games, or board games from 8:00 p.m. until midnight with Christian Rock Music in the background. The program includes a brief devotion and prayer time each session.

In 2003 a UMW circle for younger women was begun under the name of Sisters of Christ.

In late spring of 2003, the UMYF began an extended ministry through R.I.O.T. (Righteous Invasion of Teens). This team consists of UMYF participants and centers around a choreographed, liturgical interpretation of comtemporary Christian music. The group meets weekly and participates frequently in worship services at Wightman, community events, and services in other local churches.

Wightman Trustees and Finance Committee met with the District Board of Church Location and Building on May 10, 2004. After a thorough discussion of the building program and church finances, the Board unanimously approved the project. A church conference was held following worship on Sunday, May 23, to act on the recommendation of the Building Committee for the expansion of our facilities and to authorize the Church Trustees to secure the necessary loan for construction, up to $1 million. Ground was broken for the new building on June 27. District Superintendent Rev. Taylor Campbell was present and the congregation enjoyed a catered dinner following the groundbreaking. The building was completed in 2005 and Sunday school classes met in the new building for the first time on June 19. A service of consecration was held on Sunday, July 24. The building was constructed by Master Construction at a cost of $1,055,545.

The first annual Ralph Bowers/Tom Brock Memorial Golf Tournament was held October 11, 2004, to benefit the Building Fund.

Wightman purchased a new Thomas-Built 36-passenger bus with a wheelchair lift in October 2005 at a cost of $82,716. The following people served on the bus committe: Harold Broughton, Traci Bouknight, Steven Douglas, Jack Hamm, Larry Spotts and Eddy Richardson.

The sanctuary roof was replaced with a new standing seam metal roof in December 2005 at a cost of $35,750.  The contractor was Achelpohl Roofing.

In April 2006, a building expansion was begun at the Asbury Bedenbaugh Center which houses the Lighthouse ministry. The 1500 square foot expansion, which includes a stage and open auditorium area, cost approximately $28,000.00 and the work was done primarily by volunteer labor. The project was completed in January 2007.

In June 2007, the flat roof on the Educational Building was replaced with a hip metal roof by Achelpohl Roofing at a cost of $66,400.00.

Dean Lollis joined the church staff as youth ministry intern in September 2007.

Wightman conducted its first W.A.R.M. (weatherization and repair ministry) projects on December 28-29, 2007. Over 130 participants made repairs on 16 homes in the surrounding area. Love offerings were received in excess of$38,500.00 to fund the project.

In our 128 year history 38 ministers have served us.

Wightman Church began 2008 with 370 members on roll.