On October 11, 1811 Smith Raney and his wife, Ann deeded to the trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church an acre of land in the community known as Marengo. The trustees were Lewis Williams, Williamson Rainey, George Rogers, Ebenezer McGowan, Samuel Holmes, James Nolley and Lew Grigg. It was on this land that the first Sardis Church was built. The first church was a log building with a dirt floor and its pews were made of half-logs.
In 1833 Sardis had a membership of eleven members. John B. Elliott was the class leader and Samuel Pierce was the pastor. By 1844 its membership numbered sixty-two, with two classes known as the Upper and Lower Sardis. The class leaders were George Williams and Joseph Bennett. In 1875, Sunday school superintendents were appointed. Walker Evans was appointed for Sardis Church. Mr. Walker Evans was succeeded by Mr. J.E. Taylor in 1888, he was succeeded by Mr. J. A. Copley, then by Mr. W. L. Cleaton, and then by Mr. J. L Webb. Mr. James A. Taylor was Superintendent from 1935 to 1952. Mr. Myer S. Reed was then appointed and served until the late 60’s.
On October 24, 1851 Matthew Williams deeded to the trustees of Sardis Methodist Episcopal Church one-half acre of land adjoining the original property. This land was to be used for a church only, and at this time through the influence and efforts of Robert Tanner a new frame church building was erected. The trustees of Sardis in 1851 were: Evans Tanner, George Williams, Joseph Bennett and Edward Walker. By 1854 the membership had increased to eighty with Joseph Bennett as class leader.
On August 12, 1882 W. B. Cleaton deeded to the trustees of Sardis Church two acres of land. In 1911 the present church was built. Mr. M. W. Tanner gave the lumber and made a liberal contribution toward the building fund. At his death he left money to the church in a trust fund. Some years later an extra class room was added.
Sardis Church has always been on the Mecklenburg Circuit. In 1860 the Circuit consisted of the following churches:
Rock Church South Hill Church Sardis Church Bethany Church
Zion Church Rehoboth Church Kingswood Church Elbethel Church Prospect Church Canaan Church Prospect Church Salem Church
Tabernacle Church Pleasant Grove Church
In 1880, the Mecklenburg Circuit was reduced to nine churches.
On January 28, 1860 a committee was appointed with Pastor Thos. A. Prance in charge to raise funds for building a parsonage. On March 1, 1862 Pastor J. C. Watson was to secure all subscriptions in connection with building the parsonage and collect information about the same. W .R. Gregg was given the contract for building the parsonage on July 4, 1863. Mr. Evans Tanner gave the land for the parsonage.
On April 12, 1881 it was decided, at the quarterly conference, that the Mecklenburg Charge would be given the sole ownership of the parsonage property on payment to the North Mecklenburg Circuit.
Around 1926, while C. R. James was pastor, La Crosse Church was added to the charge and a new brick parsonage was built at La Crosse. The old parsonage at Marengo was sold to M. T. Rose. Later when South Hill Church was made a station(around 1948), Trinity Church was added to the Mecklenburg Charge making the total churches in the charge six; Sardis, Canaan, Rehoboth, Kingswood, La Crosse and Trinity. In 1953 the charge was divided with La Crosse, Providence and Trinity forming the La Crosse Charge and Sardis, Canaan, Kingswood, and Rehoboth forming the Mecklenburg Charge. At that time Mecklenburg Charge built its parsonage one-half mile south of La Crosse. Forward to 2009, while Michael Day was pastor, the Mecklenburg Charge divided with La Crosse and Sardis forming the LaCrosse-Sardis Charge and Kingswood and Rehoboth remained the Mecklenburg Charge. Pastor Giani Manieri of La Crosse Church became the pastor for the La Crosse-Sardis Charge and resides in the La Crosse parsonage. The Mecklenburg parsonage, for the time being, remains owned by Sardis, Rehoboth and Kingswood churches, and is rented as a private residence.
From the fall of 1965 through the spring of 1966 Sardis was remodeled. The ceiling was lowered, new siding put on the walls in the sanctuary, the floors were refinished and the interior and exterior painted. In addition two new chandeliers were added, along with new lights, memorial windows, Bible, offering plates and cross. (Memorials listed after Pastors roll). Since then a covered picnic shed was added. In 2009 a building committee was formed for the construction of a new Sunday school addition.
Some of the organizations over the years have included the Ladies Aid Society started 1907 by Mrs. W. J. Watt. In 1924, Mrs. O. M. Blackwell organized the Woman’s Missionary Society, which became the Woman’s Society of Christian Service (W.S.C.S.) in 1941. Presidents of the W.S.C.S. serving through 1966 were; Mrs. James R. Lambert, Jr., Mrs. Myer S. Reed, Mrs. G. L. Evans, Sr., Mrs. W.W. Evans, Mrs. James W. Webb, Mrs. O. R. White, Jr., Mrs. Earl Crutchfield and Mrs. Ralph Woodall.
There was a Young People’s Division or Epworth League in 1931 with Miss Helen Smith as President. The Rev. Paul R. Best organized the Sardis Methodist Youth Fellowship in 1946 with Miss Luvenia Clark as president. Others that served as president through 1966 are: Jean Bennett (Messer), Myer S. Reed, Jr., Anne Cliborne, Mary Catherine Webb (Powell)
The year 2015 marks the beginning of a new era for Sardis United Methodist Church in LaCrosse. While we have celebrated a long history in Southside Virginia, this summer marked many changes for our church, one of which had been in the making since 2008. In 1811, land was deeded by Smith Raney to establish a church in the Marengo area. Three buildings and over 200 years later, members of Sardis recognized the need for change. Blessed with a large number of children in the congregation, the existing facility was not adequate for providing Sunday school, much less hosting activities that would encourage growth for more young people. A committee was formed and the work began. As we assessed the needs of Sardis, it became obvious that our almost 100 year old building needed to be brought up to today’s standards along with having the additional space. This included a new kitchen, renovating Sunday school rooms, and adding handicapped accessible bathrooms. After meeting with district leaders, settling deed issues, re-drawing plans, adjusting the budget, and much prayer, construction began in June of 2015 and is now entering completion.
Another change for our church occurred in July when Sardis became an independent church within the Virginia United Methodist Conference. For the 204 years since Sardis was established, we had been a sister church to one or more churches in the LaCrosse/Bracey area. While change can be challenging, we are looking forward to the many opportunities that are now available to us for growth within our church and the community.
As a newly formed independent church, we also welcomed on July 1st, our new minister, Linda Betit-Buck, Lay Supply Pastor. We are excited to have her leadership skills to help us as we work to achieve our church’s mission of being a church that ministers to one another and reaches out into the community to glorify God’s name.
We invite you to visit our church, watch our progress, and come grow with us. We are located at 3152 Marengo Road in LaCrosse, Virginia. Services are held every Sunday at 9:30 a.m. followed by Sunday school. All are welcome!