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History of Simpson-Gillespie UMC


Simpson-Gillespie has a story to tell which began in 1866 under a birch tree arbor on South Graham Street and continues to unfold 150 years later in a brick edifice on Beatties Ford Road. 


The story began when a group of Bible students (former slaves) met in 1866 under a birch tree arbor in the 300 block of South Graham Street in Charlotte, North Carolina.  James Goode, Isaac Adams, and William Davidson were members of that group; hence the beginning of Simpson Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church.  


Simpson Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1867 and the charter group assembled in the home of A.B. Schenck, one of the early leaders, until 1873.  In 1872 the trustees of the church purchased land on the west side of the 300 block of South Graham Street, where a frame structure was built and dedicated for public worship May 11, 1873.  The church was named in honor of Bishop Matthew Simpson.

In 1899, the church purchased property on the east side of South Graham Street, and the construction of a brick church began in 1904. Later, the church added a fellowship-recreation area and a brick parsonage.  


During the existence of this church, two missions originated.  One lasted only a short time; however, Boulware Chapel was organized and constructed in 1924.  The property was acquired by a church member who designated that it be used for religious purposes. This congregation later reunited with Simpson Memorial.


The church moved in 1957 to the former Wesley Heights Presbyterian Church site on West Trade Street. Fifty-five family units of Simpson Memorial Methodist Church built and nurtured a strong community of faith through prayer, love, fellowship and acts of compassion. 


In 1968, Reverend James E. McCallum and Reverend James E. Draper, pastor of Gillespie United Methodist Church, a white congregation, collaborated in the merger of the two churches.  A service of merger was conducted September 2, 1969 at the Gillespie location on Winston Street. Rev. James E. McCallum was the last pastor to serve Simpson Memorial and the first pastor to serve Simpson-Gillespie United Methodist Church.


The congregation worshipped at the Methodist Home during the construction of the present church.  The first worship service at the current edifice at 3545 Beatties Ford Road was on Sunday, June 19, 1988, and consecration was held July 24, 1988. 

Simpson-Gillespie is a story of a pilgrimage of 30 pastors of Simpson Chapel Methodist Episcopal and Simpson Memorial Methodist Church and a journey of 14 pastors of Simpson-Gillespie United Methodist Church. This is a story of prayer and hope, of faith and sacrifice, tears and laughter, success and disappointment, of problems and solutions, suffering and endurance, and of service and love.

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