Our History

Metro1867Original Church Structure:  circa –

We, the members of Metropolitan United Methodist Church, located at 700 Broad Street, Rome, Georgia, feel that we truly have a rich heritage. Our Trustees purchased “All that tract of parcel of land lying and being in the Etowah Division of the City of Rome, known and distinguished in the plan of said City, City lots No sixty and Seventy-One whereon is situated the old Presbyterian Church in said City. “

The property was purchased from Addison Maupin of Bedford County, Virginia, for the sum of $1600.00. The Church is referred to as ”ME Church in U.S. ”  In the deeds to the property.

Tile Trustees involved in the transaction were W.B. Higginbotham, Randal Hunt,  James Williams, Jesse Coudley,  Seaborn Upsher, William Barrett, and Albert Berrien.

Many committed and devoted men and women have played a part in the history of Metropolitan. The same spirit that characterized the early leaders and members is evidenced today in the men and women who bear the responsibility of this Church in promoting Christian Witness and Service.

The original structure was frame surrounded by lovely trees and a spacious lawn. It was beautiful in its simplicity, with a tall, tapering steeple stretching toward the sky, and a charming foyer, which gave a feeling of welcome and quiet reverence to all who entered

That first structure was one of Rome’s oldest buildings, having been constructed prior to such landmarks in Rome as the City Clock: Tower {1871} and the Floyd County Courthouse(1892-1893).

Metropolitan is the only Church in Rome located downtown on Broad Street. This fact has created some challenges for the members. The Trustees were forced to go to court before they could complete the construction of the brick edifice, which stands today on the same site and is in itself a wonderful testimony to the spirit of dedication of the members throughout the century. There have been offers to purchase the property many times.

On 30 November 1909 “The Rome Tribune-Herald” carried a front-page story indicating that the pastor of Metropolitan, Edward D. Petty and the Trustees had an injunction suit brought against them to restrain them from completing a new brick structure. According to the newspaper account, some of the white neighbors tried to purchase the church property from the Trustees in an effort to remove the church from its present location. The Trustees refused to sell. So the neighbors registered a complaint that the church was a nuisance to the neighborhood; with loud preaching, singing, shouting, shrieking or crying out. The report continues: “The injunction suit was brought against the Negro Church by T.R. Talley and W.M. Towers and other white residents of the neighborhood, at Seventh and Broad Street. ” And further, that “The case was argued before Judge Wright on Monday afternoon, after several postponements. Barry Wright and Mark Eubanks represented the Negroes and G.E Maddox the complainants. The injunction sought was of a sweeping nature and prayed that the court forbids the completion of the structure and the holding of services there, as a nuisance. The question was warmly argued on both sides.” The article stated that “In rendering his decision Judge Moses Wright refused to enjoin the building process, but did prohibit any meeting or ringing of the bell before the hour of 8:00 A.M. “

Today one might ask, “WHY were there several postponements?” Could it be that the judge was reluctant to hear a case to STOP the building of a church? Even a church for Blacks? Could it be that a judge names “Moses” was a Christian and tried to avoid dealing with the situation? Or perhaps he felt the matter was of a frivolous nature. Neither the newspaper account nor court records delved into these matters. We do not know what Influenced the judge’s thinking and actions or why the case was postponed We can only surmise that he had a great deal of pressure placed on him.

We are thankful to God that there were level-headed men of both races at that time, or the story might have had a different ending. So Judge Wright ruled in Favor of the Trustees, and they were able to continue the construction of the brick church, completing it in 1910.

Napoleon Hill once said, “Out of every adversity come the seeds of a greater benefit:” The fact that those early Trustees were taken to court probably kindled within each of them, and then passed on to their successors the determination and burning desire to NOT ONLY complete the building of the church but to maintain and improve it as needed in future years.

The Trustees who were taken to court in 1909 were Taylor E.R. Person,  R.M. Miller, Robert Ware, C.D. Dodson, and T.F. Snow.

We have a tendency to take a lot for granted today; We forget that everything has a price.

There is no gain without pain. The early Christians in Metropolitan had to labor long and hard; yet with blood, sweat, tears, and prayer, they persevered until their goal was achieved, They’ were not quitters!  They were winners! One writer has said, “a winner never quits, and a quitter never wins. “

Perhaps it is difficult for persons today to imagine a time when there was little formal education among Black people. Three of the five Trustees in 1909 – 1910 simply placed an ‘X” for their signatures, being unable to sign their names. These men, along with others in the membership were probably working for fifty cents a day or less. The women received even less than the men, often being paid only by the leftovers from their bosses’ tables.Picture1

Yet these early Christians at Metropolitan had a vision of a beautiful brick church, and they were willing to sacrifice and to accept the enormous risk involved with borrowing $2,700 to build the church, at 8 percent per annum, and to repay the loan in four years.

The Trustees had to agree to secure Insurance in the amount of $2,000.000, payable semi­ annually. In case the insurance premium was not paid, E.D. Cole, the lender, would pay it and place a lien against the property in that amount, plus 8 percent interest per annum, in addition to the principle and interest of the mortgage note. The Trustees had to agree, also, that if a default was made in the prompt payment of the principal debt or installment, or if they should fail to pay any taxes assessed against the property when the taxes were due, then the “Total principal debt shall become due and payable at once at the option of the holder,”  E.D. Cole, the holder, was authorized to “sell at public outcry, before the courthouse door in Floyd County, to the highest bidder, for cash, all of the church property; to pay the indebtedness with interest, plus the expenses of the proceedings, including fees of attorneys at ten percent of the claim. “

No doubt those Trustees, being unlearned men, did not thoroughly comprehend or understand the legal document they were signing, nor  the consequences of their becoming default in the payment of the note, the insurance premium, and the taxes,  but we strongly feel they knew that with God on their side, “All things are possible!” So they stepped out on faith, knowing it was going to be tough, knowing they faced a big challenge, knowing there was no room for failure, but determined to move forward and build a church, not only for themselves, but for their children, grandchildren, and for generations yet unborn. They surely must have realized, even with their limited training, that there is no such thing as a “free lunch’: or “getting something for nothing. ” Somebody pays! They were willing to pay the price, to sign a legal document with almost insurmountable encumbrances.

So we can understand why they sometimes met at the church, in the early morning hours, before going to their jobs, to pray and ask God to show them the way to earn enough money to be able to pay the mortgage note when due, and to be able to pay the taxes that were assessed In the early morning meetings, one can imagine that they each drew strength from one another as they savored a brief moment of fellowship in the presence of God, in a prayer meeting.

As an integral part of the Church Anniversary Celebration each year, we have a candle­ lighting service in memory of the Trustees of 1867, the founding year of the church, and those of 1909 -1910, the year the brick edifice was completed.  It is fitting and proper to pause and look back to see “From whence we came.” John Sherman said. “The best prophet of the future is the past,” Santayana said. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. “

When a closer look is taken at the church building, one will observe that the architectural style is basically Roman Basilica, with accents of the Gothic Art Form, and features a honeycombed ceiling.

The brick structure is beautiful with it’s lovely-and-real-stained -glass windows. The structure is unique in that the walls are sixteen inches thick, and are of Locally made solid brick, rather than brick=veneer; and is more common in contemporary construction.

Some of the original furnishings of the church are still in use today. These include the

following:

  • Pulpit and three pulpit chairs of ‘solid walnut
  • Chandelier-style brass -Light  fixture

Let’s look more closely at the stained -glass windows. These lovely windows are placed in series of threes, symbolic of the Christian belief in the Trinity. In addition, each window has a series of three circular panels near the top, depicting a Biblical symbol.  The latter includes the Ten Commandments, the Crown, the Open Bible, the Clasped Hands of Fellowship, the Greek symbol for the Christ, Bunches of Grapes symbolizing the Blood of Christ and Blooming Flowers, indicative of the Resurrection.

The window over the double doors at the main entrance is triangular in shape and may be interpreted as symbolic of the Trinity or of the relationship of the individual with his fellow man and with God.

The one large window in the rear of the pulpit area and the chancel is rounding, symbolic of eternity, and depicts a lamb and a cross. This window faces eastward toward the rising sun. One small room is located on each side of the pulpit area, but on a level with the Nave. These rooms have similar windows of stained glass, as do the nine in the sanctuary. When the church was built, each of the thirteen windows was a gift from one or more members or organizations of the church.

Metropolitan United Methodist Church 1867-2016

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