History of the Church

The Methodist Church on the Eastern Shore traces it's beginnings to circuit riders - missionaries on horseback. Francis Asbury, probably the best known of this group recorded in his journal that on Tuesday, November 2, 1783 as he preached at "Garretson's Chapel." The "chapel" was a building on the property of Jonathan Garrison, a landowner who lived on the seaside road east of present day Painter. Asbury's second visit was recorded in 1786. The following year, Jonathan Garrison deeded and acre of land "for the expressed purpose of building a preaching house for the Methodice preachers." Errected in a grove of trees, the building stood a short distance north of the crossroads at Mappsburg. In the year 1788 there was no other Methodist church building in the two counties - thus Garrison's has the distinction of being the first. Membership grew and Garrison's was one of only four Methodist churches on the Shore to have regular preaching services on Sundays. What happened to the 1778 building is not certain, though it is believed it was destroyed by fire. In 1855 another church as erected on the site. Great changes came to the Eastern Shore in the last decades of the 1880's, when a railroad was constructed along the center of the two counties. Many older settlements were bypassed and new towns sprang up around the railroad. Painter was one of the new towns - Mappsburg was no longer the important center of the area. In time, some Garrison's members began thinking of relocating nearer to the railroad. After several years of discussion, the membership split amicably in 1905. In 1906, the Garrison's congregation remodeled their building, removing the gallery where the free blacks and slaves had worshipped, and adding stained glass windows. At Painter, the new congregation held services for some time in the Arcadia Theater, the upstairs of the Perdue building on Hickman Street. A lot was purchased next to the school (currently used as the fellowship hall), on Main Steet, and Painter Church was built in 1906 and dedicated in February 1907. Garrison's and Painter Church remained on good terms and were on a charge served by the same pastor. The continuing shift in population caused a further decline in attendance - to the point that survival was no longer possible. The congregations of the two churches voted to merge in 1927. The people joined together and so did the buildings. Garrison's Chapel was eased onto several large logs and attached to a mule-powered turnstile. Slowly, the 1855 church was drawl along the unpaved road to the Painter Church lot. There it came to rest, facing Main Street. The east side was connected to the back wall of Painter Church. Since that time, Painter-Garrison's members have used the former Painter Church building for Sunday School classes. Worship services today are conducted in the chapel that began its life a mile away - over a hundred and fifty years ago. "Surely this is the Lord's doing and it is marvelous in our eyes." (John Wesley, from his Journal)

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