Mt. Tabor-Celia Phelps Charge
Sunday, January 26, 2020
One Church - Two Locations


Mt. Tabor-Celia Phelps UMC Mission Statement: “Follow Jesus, Make Disciples and Transform the World!”
A Brief History of Celia Phelps Memorial United Methodist Church

     The forefathers of Celia Phelps began worshipping with Mount Tabor Church in the Mount Tabor community around 1864.  The Mount Tabor Church formally affiliated with the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1877.  From that date until 1905, the people of Red Hill continued to worship at Mount Tabor before building a church in their own community.

     In 1889, the land for the first Red Hill Church was purchased from the Mollie Hanner family.  Isaac Tonkins approached the Hanner Family three times before they agreed to sell the land.  The land was on Groometown Road about a mile north of the church's present location.

     Overtime it became necessary to relocate the church.  The first church had served as the place of worship for nineteen years and was falling down.  Additionally, the white people around the church wanted the land and the members wanted a church closer to their homes.  Several men of the church, worked for John Blackwell Cobb, a wealthy landowner, vice-president of the American Tobacco Company and a Methodist.  John Watlington, Henry Moore, Clay Mebane, Joseph Herbin and Oscar Crutchfield were full time employees of John Cobb.  Isaac Tonkins was self-employed, building roads and clearing land on the Cobb Farm; many of Cobb's full time employees worked under his supervision to complete jobs of this nature.

     As the forman, Isaac had many opportunities to discuss the needs of the church with Mr. Cobb.  He agreed to donate the land next to the Sedgefield Riding Stable so the church could be built and gave money for its construction with the stipulation that the church be named in the memory of a faithful servant, Celia Phelps.  A plaque in the sanctuary verifies this requirement.

     The Red Hill Schoolhouse was on land next to the church and was deeded to the church in 1937.  The concrete steps mark the location of the schoolhouse.

     In 1974, the Education and Fellowship Building was added under the leadership of Reverend Lawrence E. Johnson.

     In 1991, Celia Phelps was designated a historical landmark.

     Over the course of its history, the church name has reflected local church developments and mergers in the Methodist Church.  It began originally as the Red Hill Methodist Episcopal Church in 1905, to Celia Phelps Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church in 1924, to Celia Phelps Memorial Methodist Church in 1939, to Celia Phelps Memorial United Methodist Church in 1968.

     The pictures of the former pastors are on display in the fellowship hall.  

     In July 2011 we welcomed our new Pastor, Reverend Larry E. Fitzgerald.