Around 1835, Joshua Harshaw, a wealthy first settler, came to this area.  In 1844, he granted land on which to erect a place of worship for those of the Methodist faith.  Eleven years later, he presented to the Methodist Episcopal Church, South the meetinghouse which was to be known as Harshaw Chapel.  We know from our records that our congregation was gathering for worship prior to any “assigned” Methodist ministers coming to our area.  In 1836, Felix Axley, a local first settler, attorney and deeply religious man preached in local log structures.  Conference records show that the first pastor, Rev. A. R. Wilson was “assigned” to Murphy in 1858.  As Murphy expanded, so did the number of Methodists and Harshaw Chapel was no longer large enough to meet the needs of the growing congregation.

In February 1919, land for the present location was purchased from Dr. B.B. Meroney, Jr. for $2,500.  In 1922, after the land had been paid for, a building loan was secured and the construction of a neo-classical modified Akron Plan church was begun. Total cost of construction was $30,500.  The April 6, 1923 editorial page of the Cherokee Scout notes that the Building Committee of the Methodist Church is canvassing its membership for payments on their pledges.  In the February 15, 1924 Cherokee Scout, the following appeared:  “To the People of Cherokee County-The Methodist Congregation of Murphy is exceedingly anxious to complete its new house of worship….merchants of our town have consented and agreed to give one-half of the gross profits derived from their business on March 1, to this great cause….we are calling upon every professional man, every wage-earner salaried man and woman to assist by giving one-half of their income for one day, (March 1, 1924):….$1,500 was contributed (In 2022, that amount is equivalent to about $25,000).  Even though the church was not finished …..”but the auditorium will be practically complete”,  the first service in the new church was held June 2, 1924.  On January 13, 1929, after all indebtedness had been cleared, Bishop Warren Candler dedicated the building.

Two architectural changes have been made to the original church and front walkway.  In 1956, the front columns were added in memory of Mrs. L. E. Mauney and Mrs. Anne Deaderick Mauney.  The front walkway of the church was altered to include a blue and white marble plaza with two marble benches.  The area was dedicated in 1981 as the Peggy Manchester Memorial Plaza.

Sunday School attendance outgrew space within the church and it became necessary to enlarge the facilities.  In 1963, land was purchased for the lot adjacent to the church and a “Give to Build-Build to Grow” campaign began to fund construction of the Education and Fellowship Hall Building.  The Education Building was constructed in 1967-68, increasing the space available for Sunday school, administrative offices, social gatherings and meals.

The  ALPHA Youth Choir was formed in September 1991 under the direction of  Elisabeth Penry.  ALPHA was an interdenominational traveling singing group with members representing many faiths from the Tri-county region. Their travels included trips across North Carolina, Cincinnati, Kentucky and Nashville.  ALPHA choir made a difference in the lives of those who listened as well as in the lives of the youth and counselors.  Also, in 1991, three other choirs were formed for younger children:  Promises for preschool, Genesis for elementary, and Revelation for older elementary and middle school kids.

In 1993, the choir loft was enlarged, a sound system was added, and new chairs as well as a brass and wood railing for the balcony were added.

Suzanne West became choir director in 1995.  Dedicated to all aspects of music, she and Rev. George Yates valiantly continued the work of the ALPHA choir and UMYF.  They became heavily involved in mission work, serving homeless populations, volunteering for summer day camps, preschools, nursing homes, and assisting with paint and simple church restoration projects in needy churches.  The group and counselors took handbell & musical drama productions on the road to places such as Asheville, Charlotte, Jacksonville, Fl, Summerville, SC, and Knoxville, Tn, where they not only performed many indoor and outdoor concerts and dramas, but fed entire poverty-stricken neighborhoods hot, fresh smoked “Barber BBQ” dinners.

In 2005, a Prayer Garden was added to the church grounds beside the education building and in 2010 was renamed the George and Nancy Yates Prayer Garden.

The Hilton Street Parsonage was sold in 2016 and land was purchased to build a new parsonage at the River Walk on the Hiwassee subdivision.   On August 27, 2018 there was a groundbreaking for the new parsonage and Pastor Wil Posey and family were the first family to move into the beautiful new parsonage in 2019.

In 2020, our world experienced the Covid-19 pandemic.  This rapidly spreading, deadly virus claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, including within our congregation and neighborhoods.  During that time, like every church, our congregation adapted in order to continue worshipping God and the work of ministry.  We gathered in outdoor settings, and worship services went “online” as it was live streamed and broadcast into peoples’ homes.

On October 25, 2020, new playground equipment was installed and dedicated.  This became a place of vital, and safe connection for young families during that time.  After 2 years, public health officials declared the pandemic over.  The church was able to return to familiar ministries, and also continue following the Spirit in this new time.

As ministers have come and gone, as one generation comes and another goes, we are confident that Murphy is a better place because Methodism is making its witness here.  We salute those who have labored faithfully over the years – those who have enriched our heritage.


1836-1858    Felix Axley
1858-1859    A.R. Wilson
1859-1860    John W. Williams
1860-1861    William H. Tally
1861-1862    W.H. Eblyn
1862-1863    Unknown
1863-1865    John Bird
1865-1866    J.A. Wiggins
1866-1867    Joshua Brooks
1867-1869    C. Campbell

1869-1870    W.H. Stephens
1870-1871    S.V. Bates
1871-1872    A.C. Wiggins
1872-1873    J.A. Wilburn
1873-1874    Riley A. Giddens
1874-1875    J.A. Sansabaugh
1875-1878    Erastus H. Bogle
1878-1879    Robert A. Owen
1879-1880    W.H. Dawn
1880-1881    Ayers Kincaid
1881-1882    W.G. Sage
1882-1883    William A. Thomas
1883-1884    Robert McDowell
1884-1885    Jocob O. Shelley
1885-1886    Robert A. Owen
1886-1887    P.L. Terrill
1887-1888    C.M. James
1888-1890    J.C. Troy
1890-1892    J.O. Shelly
1892-1894    L.T. Cordell
1894-1895    W.G. Mallonee
1895-1897    H.H. Brendle
1897-1900    J.E. Abernathy
1900-1901    R.L. Owenbey
1901-(½ yr) George F. Kirby
1901-1903    A.T. Bell
1903-1905    D.P. Tate
1905-1906    W.L. Sherrill
1906-1908    George G Harley
1908-1911     W.E. Abernathy
1911-1912      Zadok Paris
1912-1913     D. Atkins
1913-1915     Ira Erwin
1915-1917     T.J. Ogburn
1917-1919     J.H. Ingle
1919-1920    H.H. Robbins

1920-1923    M.B. Clegg
1923-1926    D.H. Rhinehart
1926-1927    E.J. Harbison
1927-1931    Howard P. Powell
1931-1935    T.F. Higgins
1935-1938    W.A. Barber
1938-1939    Van B. Harrison
1939-1940    W.R. Jenkins
1940-1942    C.B. Newton
1942-1946    Ralph Taylor
1946-1947    Russell Young
1947-1949    W.B. Penny
1949-1953    Delbert Byrum
1953-1957    Asmond L Maxwell
1957-1961    R.T. Houts, Jr.
1961-1962    C.F. Womble
1962-1966    Clark Benson
1966-1971    W. Thornton Hawkins
1971-1976    Frank B. Turner
1976-1980    John E. Davis
1980-1984    Joseph W. Lasley
1984-1991    Donald W. Routh
1991-1995    Clyde K. Penry
1995-1997    Carl S. Johnson
1997-2010    George Yates
2010-2012    Al Beck
2012-2018    Rob Rollins
2018-             Wil Posey