Broad Street is continually adding to its rich heritage. While history recounts events of the church’s past, it also gives emphasis to the church today.
Methodism founder John Wesley often quoted 2 Timothy: 1:6 — “I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God which is within you.”
The Broad Street congregation has stirred its gifts since its formation 175 years ago.
Broad Street will celebrate this morning with its official “history Sunday” by using the order of worship the congregation used in 1956 when they celebrated the 120th anniversary of Methodism in Bradley County.
The (United) Methodist Church in Bradley County dates its origin to 1836 and the founding of the county. Since its beginnings, the Methodist Church has been in the vanguard of establishing missions and churches in newly settled communities on the frontier.
Even before Cleveland was a town, the Holston Conference sent Madison C. Hawk to the “Spring Place Mission,” a circuit including several North Georgia counties and the Cherokee Territory in which Cleveland was to be located.
Methodism in Bradley County preceded the actual founding of Cleveland. It is; therefore, appropriate that Broad Street United Methodist Church participate in the celebration of the county’s 175th birthday.
The congregation that became Broad Street began in the Bradley County Courthouse in 1836. Even before the establishment of Bradley County, Methodist missionaries ministered to both white settlers and the Cherokee natives in this region. The early congregants met in four locations within downtown Cleveland between 1836 and 1893.
The national Methodist Church split into the Methodist Episcopal Church, South and the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1844. In 1863, Federal troops commandeered the Methodist Episcopal Church, South as a stable and a granary.
The brick building was located at the corner of Church and First streets. The Methodists of Cleveland worshipped as a single group in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church during most of the Civil War years although there were probably divided sympathies against the war.
The congregation of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South moved to its present location, at the corner of what are now Broad Street and Central Avenue, and constructed a new brick building in 1867 and 1868. A local newspaper editor who wrote, “An exterior view reminds one of an old ‘Shanglia’ rooster with its tail feathers pulled out.”
That sanctuary was demolished in 1893, and the current one was completed in 1896.
In writing about this sanctuary, Eugenia Rodgers, a descendent of one of the founders of Methodism in Bradley County, described it as “... a house of worship that evidenced beauty in the balance of its structure and in the finest work of artists in brick, wood, and glass. The stained glass windows, lovely in tones of amber, mauve, rose, blue, and green, shed light on the woodwork whose fiber reflected artistic polishing of the grain. No veneer, varnish or shoddiness throughout the sanctuary; but the artistry that the ‘keys of the kingdom,’ the cross and the dove in the windows deserved.”
The interior and exterior of the 1893-1896 building were entered on the National Register of Historic Places on April 5, 1984.
Many people in the Cleveland and Bradley County area remember Broad Street service outreach programs such as Unity, Lundy Chapel, Mission Mart, H.A.N.D. (Helping Any in Need or Distress), Clothes Closet, Ladies for Fellowship and Re-Creation (LAFAR), Fellowship Recreation Inspiration Non-Denominational Service (FRINS), Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Emmaus Community, and Habitat for Humanity.
Over the years, Broad Street, along with many other Methodist churches, has helped support missions in countries as diverse as Africa, Brazil, Malaysia, Childe, China, India, Korea and Latin America.
United Methodist Women of Broad Street also helped support Red Bird Mission in Kentucky and provided food for the United Way Food Pantry. Broad Street was supportive in establishing other churches in Cleveland including Unity. The Unity Mission continues helping with educational and social needs of many children in the Cleveland community. Broad Street continues to participate in teams that travel to Honduras.
These teams are composed of medical personnel, builders, and others who lead in Christian educational programs. Broad Street youth continue to lend help and Christian services to people in need. In recent years, Broad Street youth have responded to the call for help in response to Hurricane Katrina, flooding in Appalachia and Nashville. They are currently aiding victims of the recent tornados.
Broad Street offers four Sunday morning worship services – two traditional and two contemporary.
For information about the worship services and the 13 Sunday School classes, please call the church office at 423-476-5586 or visit www.bsumc.org on the Internet.