Featured, Local History, The Centennial History of Hurricane

Centennial History of Hurricane: Church Histories: St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church

In 1988, The Centennial History of Hurricane, WV was published to commemorate the town’s 100th anniversary. The publication included the histories of 16 Hurricane area churches. This week’s selection is the 15th of the church histories which were published in 1988.

Submitted by Sally Holliday

The idea of establishing a church in Teays Valley really evolved over apple cobbler and coffee in the Holliday kitchen. John Embleton had stopped by and we began talking about the number of Putnam County residents who were quite active at St. Marks in St. Albans. The Interstate had not yet been constructed, so driving to church was about a 17 mile drive on old Rt. 35. Once a week, for church, wasn’t too bad, but choir and guild meetings, etc. through the week were a real effort. This group was a most active one in the church and provided real support as choir members, Sunday School teacher s, etc. at St. Marks. It seemed quite logical that, with the growth of the Teays Valley area, the establishing of a mission would be a reality.

Quite excited over the concept, John, Jim, and I discussed it with Lib Fletcher, and on January 25, I called Bishop Camp­ bell to present our idea. At the time fifteen families were involved, representing 30 children. On a very icy night, January 30, 1963, a meeting was held at Lib Fletcher’s home, attended by 27 adults, and the mission of St, Timothy’s (the name chosen by Bishop Campbell) became a reality. On February 21, Lib Fletcher was appointed Diocesan Missioner and was to serve in essence, as vicar of St. Timothy’s. On May 5, at a congregational meeting, John Embleton, Richard Paff, and John Slaughter were named as trustees, and an original committee to head up the endeavor was Jim Holliday, Dana Embleton, John Slaughter, William Garwin and Richard Paff. Services were first held at the Hurricane Middle School Gymnasium. It was not the least unusual for a mouse to scurry out of the piano as Miss Libby Embleton played the hymns. We attempted to hold Sunday School in the locker rooms, but the aroma proved stronger that the gospel lessons and we had to admit defeat. It was something to see the little girls in their Sunday dresses, tumbling on the wrestling mats during services. Lay readers and clergymen from Charleston and Huntington conducted the services. It was soon evident that we really needed to find more adequate facilities Bill and Sharon Garvin, though not Episcopalians were attending services. I’m not quite sure how it evolved, but they agreed to have services in their basement in a large laundry room. Some wooden benches were donated, a few discarded kneeling pads, a small wooded alter, and St. Timothy’s continued to worship. The Garvin’s washer and dryer provided a stand where we had baptisms (also first confirmation). It was quite a shock one Sunday, when the first parishioners arrived to find Bill, still in his pajamas, having forgotten to turn his clock back for daylight savings time! In the meantime, Sunday School was held at the Hollidays’ house, across the street. With five little Hollidays, it provided a good start. A children’s altar was set up for services, and little tables and chairs made one feel we were really official!

In April, Rev. Mycoff looked at several pieces of property, in the valley, and soon after, Lib and Carroll Fletcher agreed to provide the land, a part of their farm, for the church to be built. On February 29, 1964 the “Ground-breaking Ceremony” was held. Rev. Birk Stathers was appointed the previous summer to serve St. Timothy’s and Cross Lanes.

It was quite an adjustment for Mr. Stathers to come out of General Seminary in New York, to serve a basement congregation in Hurricane, WV! His collar was quite a novelty to the people in Putnam County, who had had little exposure to Catholicism or Episcopal tradition. They all felt we were a little weird, putting on our hats to go into Garvin’s basement! The Cornerstone was laid in April of 1964 and the church really began to take shape. It was thrilling moment in June (9th) that St. Timothy’s was officially dedicated. Many of the original accoutrements were given by early members and remain in the church today.

The rural nature of the church was a real asset, and many happy events were held at the Fletcher ‘s pond or in the enormous hayloft of their barn in back of the church. Sunday School was often held at either site, barn dances, picnics, and pageants were all exciting. An Ordination was held for the Rev. Charles E. Adams, the Rev. Samuel W. Allinder, Jr., the Rev. Custer Ruhey, Jr. and the Rev. Robert S. Smith in March of 1966. Rev. Allinder remained to serve as St. Timothy’s next vicar. It was during his stay that the addition was made to the undercroft.

The Rev. Duncan Dormor came as our next vicar with his wife, Mary. He was from England, having first served in the U.S. at Parkersburg. Duncan brought a real depth, with his Church of England background, to our little mission. He was then followed by Peter Scheow and Betty. Dr. William Kirkland served as vicar for 11 years, followed in 1986 by the Rev. Arlie R. Turner. These years were full of church­ oriented events. Progressive dinners, Halloween parties, services held at the park and pond, Bible School, Miss Libby’s dancing classes, a kindergarten, puppet shows, barn dances, teenage “coffee house”, guitar lessons, scouts, TOPS, art classes, AA, Youth Improvement Council (YIC) Inter­Community Council (InterComm) and even a horse show sponsored by the church. It has always been a haven for those in need and when a family in the congregation was burned out, St. Timothy’s became their temporary home. The Putnam County Pickers used to undercroft for their first practice sessions. A “Blessing of the Animals” was officially held by Duncan Dormor, but it wasn’t the least unusual to find a pup or kitten wandering in.

St. Timothy found itself host to a group of Sioux Indians which was a follow-up to a missionary outreach program. The Rev. Francis Apple, his wife and three children and eight Sioux young people from Rosebud Indian Reservation, South Dakota, arrived in a pickup truck to spend a week in Hurricane. Parishioners opened their hearts and homes to them and jointly provided a summer Bible School for all the children.

A year later, two more young people arrived. Steven Joseph Thunderhawk and Bernedine Little Whitman came to Hurricane to start a “new life”. The church participated, providing living arrangements, jobs, etc. It was quite an experience, a real story unto itself!

On May 15, 1983, St. Timothy’s held a “homecoming” celebrating its 20th birthday. It has been a productive and good 20 years, full of many and varied experiences. We’ve seen many baptized, confirmed, married and lost and buried a few. Humanly, we’ve made mistakes, but these have been overshadowed with progress and success. We have an active alter guild, alcolytes, choir, vestry, woman’s group, Bible studies group and so many more that chart St. Timothy’s along its course.

This is a unique congregation in that it is constantly changing with a group that is transient as plants change job locations. The membership is widespread, coming from all over Putnam County, Milton and Culloden in Cabell County, and some in Kanawha County. Our young people can attend one of four high schools and often do not see one another from one week to the next.

The church has always had a reputation for having community concern and many members are very active in activities related to this concern. It has been a caring church and service-oriented.

Our members are our greatest asset, for they continue to be steadfast through all our growing pains and learning. As members have gone, we have had always, new, talented, capable people who have come to fill their shoes.

We’ve come a long way in twenty years and I feel it’s just the beginning. With the potential growth of our area, I think we will continue to progress and thrive. God has truly blessed this venture.

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