Burns Memorial United Methodist Church. I’m sure that name doesn’t bring the game of baseball to mind; but it should. Our church got its start from a men’s and women’s baseball league. The Richards brothers were members of Mize UMC and when the baseball field was built across the road, they decided to start the Fleming Baseball Teams.
Their pastor came to a game and suggested that a spiritual organization should be formed. In 1935, Rev. Robert Kerr came to the South Augusta Charge. He was visiting the Richards and Jones families. He attended a ball game and suggested starting a community Sunday School.
For 10 years, the interdenominational Sunday School met at Fleming School. They also held preaching services, prayer meetings and youth meetings at the Richards’ home. In 1945, they knew they needed to form churches. The Methodists formed a church in June of 1945. At the organizational meeting, it was decided to name the church “George Doster Burns Memorial Methodist Church”, after George and Blanche Burns’ son, who passed away in October 1939.
The Burns and Richards families donated land to build the church. The church was built with love and hard work by the members and on December 22, 1946, Rev. Bob Taylor held the first service, a Christmas service, in the new church. The pulpit that was crafted for our first sanctuary is still being used in the Fellowship Sunday School Class to this day.
In 1945 and 1948, the ladies formed 2 groups. Those were the beginnings of our United Methodist Women. We have 3 groups now. The Carolyn Johnson Circle, which is United Methodist Women, the LaTane Kirkley Circle, and the Women of the Flame.
In 1950, Burns became a full time church.
In 1951, the men formed the United Methodist Men’s group for our church.
The first parsonage was built in 1951. It is next door to our church, in front of the Preschool Playground.
In 1952, the Burns Kindergarten was opened. It expanded into the Burns Kindergarten, Preschool and Daycare in 1975, and is still serving the community today.
In 1953, it was decided that a bigger church needed to be built. Six acres next to the parsonage was purchased, and on March 14, 1954, a groundbreaking ceremony was held. On August 29, 1954, the cornerstone was laid. The first service was held in the new church on January 16, 1955.
In 1965, it was decided that a larger parsonage was needed. On May 14,1967 a service was held in the back yard of the parsonage to dedicate it.
On April 23, 1968, the Methodist Church and The Evangelical United Brethren Church joined, to become the United Methodist Church. This officially changed our name to “Burns Memorial United Methodist Church”.
On December 7, 1969, the new educational wing of the church was dedicated.
The Food Pantry and Happy Club were started in 1974. The Food Pantry closed in 1991. It was reopened and closed again in 2013. We are in the process of reopening it again in the near future. The Happy Club meets the 4th Thursday of each month for a covered dish lunch and fellowship. In 1978 the We Care Committee was formed to provide meals for bereaved families in the church.
The stained glass windows were installed in October of 1980.
The Shut-In Ministry was started in October of 1982. Children’s Church started in November of 1982.
From 1984 to 1986, many updates and renovations were done for the church and the mortgage was paid off. They held a dedication ceremony on April 13, 1986, honoring God and blessing all that had been done.
During the late 80’s and early 90’s, Burns was a church with a heart for missions. We sent several young people overseas as missionaries and we supported missionaries through the General Board of Global Ministries, first in Mexico, then in Nicaragua. We also had young people who grew up in our church become United Methodist Ministers themselves.
In 1984, a research committee was formed to work on what we could do to further reach out to the community. On June 30, 1985, a Charge Conference to approve building our new Family Life Center was held. The Consecration Service for the Family Life Center was held on October 18, 1987. In 1989 there was a “This Is Your Life” ceremony honoring Carl Richards and all his contributions to Burns. The United Methodist Men gained permission to rename the Family Life Center the Carl Richards Family Life Center.
In 1992, the carport outside the church office doors was built.