Welcome to Hedding United Methodist Church!
Hedding United Methodist Church
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Worship . Welcome . Love . Serve . Disciple
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Hedding History

 
The first Methodist meeting in Barre was held in 1796 after first starting in Bradford under the leadership of Margaret Peckett in 1790. The first Methodist supervising preachers to arrive in Barre were Nicholas Snethen and Jesse Lee who organized a class which began in 1797.  That class had both men and women. The organizational papers for the Barre Methodists were filed in February 1799.  Jotham Carpenter, a member of that first class became the first local pastor for the budding congregation.
 
By 1804, the Barre Methodists had grown to 73 members and became the head of a new circuit in Central Vermont. In 1805, Elijah Hedding was made pastor in charge of the Barre circuit.  In 1824, Rev. Hedding was elected Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in which office he was highly influential in leading the church to large growth in membership in the United States.
 
Barre remained the center of Methodist growth in Central Vermont for coming decades, in which there were several revivals. The Barre church along with others in Vermont founded the  Newbury Seminary in Newbury, Vermont, which was later moved to Montpelier to become Montpelier Seminary and later Vermont College. The theological training at this seminary was later moved to become the core of Boston University School of Theology.
 
The first Methodist meeting house was located on the green, and later moved to a site near the current First Baptist Church. By 1837, the building had been outgrown and a new white two story structure with steeple was erected on the current site approximately where the rear wing now stands. This was used until 1895, when the church again outgrew its facility and constructed the Washington Street structure now in use as the sanctuary, classrooms and hall. The old structure was sold and moved to North Main street for other uses.
 
Camp meetings were held on Beckley Hill for much of the period up to the Civil War. Following the war, the church began a long history of calling and sending missionaries.  During the 1880s and 90s the population of Barre and the church went up dramatically, leading to the construction of the new brick structure under the pastorate of  Rev. Walter Davenport. Missionary work in South Barre was undertaken and the Woman’s Home Missionary Society became very active in Barre in the early years of the 20th century.
 
The North Barre Mission arose in the first years of the new century to address the spiritual, social and material needs of Barre’s immigrant populations, especially the Italians. Many were served at the mission with children’s programs, English lessons, and a system of social support and spiritual growth offered there. The North Barre Chapel was opened in 1910 (The building is now the Barre Alliance Church). The Barre Methodists and the Missionary Society purchased the North Barre Mission House in 1924 to expand the work there. As a result of this work, there are many Barre Italians with strong connections to Hedding.
 
By the early 1930’s it was apparent that the single level church building was too small to meet the needs of the congregation. Work was undertaken to redesign the chancel and to excavate the basement to accommodate a new fellowship hall, stage, toilets and kitchen. These spaces provide much more room for classes and social life. Additional men and women were called for deaconness and local pastorate work.  The church also took leadership in encouraging scouting and other programs for youth, and a club for Christian men in Barre.
 
In 1940, the Vermont Conference of the Methodist Church merged with the Troy Annual Conference, which regulated the western part of Vermont and the area around Albany NY and northward. The Rev. Dr. Eldon Martin was the first Vermont Superintendent. He became pastor at Barre in 1946. He oversaw the integration of the North Barre Mission into the Barre Methodist Church on August 9, 1959, when the mission was closed.
 
By the late 1950’s it was apparent once again that the church facility was inadequate to the work of the church, and at great financial risk, the church undertook to construct a new wing on its rear side for classrooms and other activities. Ground was broken on May 19, 1957 and completed in 1958. The wing was lovingly dedicated to Rev. Dr. Martin who retired in 1959. The membership of the church had grown to over 1000 at that time.
 
By 1980, the membership had been reduced to 760, but the church continued to send missionaries around the world and the United States. There were thriving groups of women, youth, men, and married couples, as well as several choirs. At the request of a presiding Bishop, the Barre church took the name Hedding, to honor its early preacher and bishop. By the mid 1990’s many of these social connections had begun to weaken, but the church remained strong and held a large bicentennial celebration, parade and activities under the leadership of Rev. Herman Benjamin, who served here for 11 years. The Rev. Ralph Howe led Hedding for the next nine years, establishing a strong outreach ministry with the local community.
 
In 2013, Hedding welcomed its first female pastor, the Reverend Kim E. Kie. Pastor Kim is passionate about ministry with the poor, actively engaging in our Friday Community Suppers and introducing The Church Has Left the Building worship services.
 
Sources: “One Hundred Fifty Years of Methodism in Barre, Vermont” by Corinne Eastman Davis (1948) and “One Third Century Of Hedding United Methodist Church History 1947-1981″ by Eleanor Bailey