The Journey So Far
Braddock Street Methodist Episcopal Church South was born as a result of the decision of the April 7, 1858 Quarterly Conference of the Market Street Methodist Church to reserve certain pews for students of the Valley Female Institute. Feeling that this decision was in violation of the Methodist discipline, some members withdrew their membership and began to organize a new Methodist church with the purchase of the property on Braddock Street for $449.00. The cornerstone for Braddock Street Church’s first sanctuary was laid on October 8, 1858. The first Christmas services were held in the new building’s basement that year. The sanctuary was dedicated in July 1859. The membership had grown from 32 to 168 members.
The church closed in 1862 when the pastor, J. Lester Shipley, joined the Confederate Army and the membership had dropped to 60 persons. In 1866, the church was repaired from damage it sustained during the war and services resumed with membership rising to 250 members. By 1890 the church membership had grown to 511 members. The year 1902 was an eventful year as the Sunday School House was built at a cost of $10,294.30 and 144 books were authorized to be purchased by the Quarterly Conference to start the church library.
Before and during World War I, the church continued steady and substantial growth; the youth group attendance was over 300 each Sunday evening and by 1933 the Golden Rule Class had found itself “pushed out” of the Sunday School House. The basement of the church sanctuary was renovated and the Golden Rule Class met there until 1975 when the Sanctuary was razed. Another building project at a cost of $725,675.00 resulted in a new sanctuary which was built on the corner of Washington and Wolfe Streets. The first service was held in the new sanctuary on June 1, 1975.
With an increase in all Sunday school class sizes, the inclusion of a Parent’s Morning Out program in 1987 and the need for a state licensed child daycare, the capacity of the Education Building was being stretched even without mentioning the long standing Preschool Program established in 1960. Renovations to the Education Building, completed in January 1994 at a cost of $2.9 million, resulted in additional square footage allowing Boy Scout Troop 3, sponsored by Braddock Street Church, to be given its own room on the ground level and the Chapel was relocated to Braddock Street as well; the Library was relocated to the space the Chapel once occupied; a Choir Room was built off the back of the Sanctuary; the church staff office received renovation; the child daycare was able to be established; additional adult Sunday School rooms were now available; there was space available for the Shenandoah Area on Aging Adult Daycare Center; the kitchen was renovated and the addition of a Fellowship Hall combination Gymnasium were all incorporated into the renovation design.
Our current membership is about 1,100 with about 500 people attending worship each Sunday. Braddock Street United Methodist Church members demonstrate that they are followers of Jesus, loving God, loving others, and serving the world through such activities as feeding the hungry of Winchester, providing shelter for the homeless, serving hundreds of children through preschool and child care programs, and by reaching out to the needy of the world as demonstrated through our continuing financial support and active participation in mission with the Child Rescue Centre and Mercy Hospital in Bo, Sierra Leone, Africa.