That Old Time Religion
Faith on the Frontier
Old Rehoboth Church
The Oldest Protestant Church Building West of the Allegheny Mountains
If you are interested in the history of Christianity, the history of our nation, or both, you will enjoy visiting Old Rehoboth Church and Museum.
Although regular services are no longer held in the log church, the original pulpit remains and it opens its doors for special occasions. A visit to Rehoboth features a guided tour of the old church and museum. A large picnic shelter, with a water supply and electrical outlets is available for public use. A conference room and modern restrooms are available in the Museum.
Rehoboth Church was built on land donated by Edward Keenan and dedicated by Methodist circuit rider, Bishop Francis Asbury in 1786, as a place of worship, “as long as the grass grows and the water flows.” It was only 21 by 29 feet but it was larger than the log homes in which the congregation had previously met.
“Rehoboth” is a Hebrew word meaning “broad places.” In Genesis 26, it is the name given to the well dug by Isaac. The name may have been given to the church for the same reason it was given to the well: “…the Lord made room for us, and we will be fruitful in the land.” (Genesis 26:22 NRSV)
Rehoboth was the principal preaching place on the Greenbrier Circuit, established in 1787 with John Smith as the pastor. The Rev. Mr. Smith kept a journal, which gives us information about Rehoboth’s early days. Smith arrived in July of 1787. The size of the circuit prevented him from preaching at any one place more than once every four weeks, but Rehoboth was thought to be an important enough congregation to merit a Sunday service. “Hundreds flocked together to hear the word…” at the August service at Rehoboth. That winter the December and January services were held in homes because the church had no heat.
In 1927, the old Rehoboth Church building was repaired and a new roof was put on it. In 1960 Rehoboth was designated an historic shrine of the Methodist Church. The caretaker’s cottage was dedicated on May 23, 1976 by Bishop D. Frerick Wertz. The contract for the construction of the museum was signed less than two years later.
The Old Rehoboth Church is located 1.5 miles east of Union, WV, just off of Route 3.
The old church building and the museum are open April through October, Thursdays through Saturdays from 11 AM to 5 PM
Sundays from 2 PM to 5 PM
For more information or to arrange a visit, contact
Herman Jones, Caretaker • 304 772- 3518
HC 83, Box 154 • Union, WV 24983