The membership at Warren and Methodist congregations everywhere is indebted to those who have given us so much, including the enriched historical heritage they passed on to us. We are debtors to the founders of Methodism, John and Charles Wesley, and to the multitude of men and women who have given leadership to the work of the Church.
A little band of ardent Methodist followers were John Bridges, Richard Bigham and several others. Their cottage meetings were held in the home of Mr. and Mrs. John Bridges of Bush Mountain (a section in the West End Atlanta, Georgia community).
In 1874 their pastor, The Reverend John Crolley (1874-1883) organized this faithful and devoted band of Christians into a more formal group of worshipers. These worshipers continued to meet in a one-room shack, and later moved to a two-room shack.
The years that followed ushered in new ideas and challenges for the growing congregation. Foremost was the organized work of the women in the church, which included the following organizations, the Women's Home Missionary Society, the Ladies Aid Society, and other smaller women's groups.
In 1883, The Reverend M. M. Alston was appointed pastor. Rev. Alston (1883-1895) was a dedicated leader for the growing membership. During his administration Christian leaders emerged to promote the ideas and teachings of Methodism, and the church moved to a small frame building on Humphries and Chapel Streets. The church became known as Chapel Street Church. Several years later the name was changed to Warren Chapel in honor of Bishop Henry White Warren, the Episcopal Bishop who took residence in Atlanta in 1831.
In 1890 Mr. Samuel Cunningham, a student at Clark University, organized the first Sunday School. He served as superintendent until 1932, and was succeeded by his son, Mr. Wendell Cunningham, who served until his passing.
One of the most dynamic leaders of the church was The Reverend Elijah Henry Oliver (1906-1920), the son-in-law of the church's first pastor (Rev. Crolley). The Reverend Oliver's unusual qualities of leadership, winning personality and speaking ability helped to increase membership to approximately 1,400 members, before his death in 1920.
The church moved to a larger edifice on Greensferry Avenue. Dedication exercises for the new church were held on April 19, 1914. Regrettably, the church was partially destroyed by fire on December 2, 1929. However, The Reverend S. M. Miller (1927-1930) and the church leaders were able to restore the church with the fire insurance funds.
During the administration of The Reverend E. M. Hurley (1930-1938) a unit of the church was remodeled as a parsonage. Also, a precedent was set with the reorganization of the church choirs.
The Reverend E. G. McLeod served as pastor from 1938 to 1939. He was succeeded by The Reverend M. W. Clair (1939-1940).
The year 1939 marked a turning point in Methodism. According to The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, "after years of negotiation a Plan of Union was agreed upon, and on May 10, 1939, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South Methodist Episcopal and the Methodist Protestant Church united to form the Methodist church." A period of transition was ushered in.
To guide and organize the Warren Church in this Plan of Union, The Reverend J. Wesley Thomas (1940-1948) was transferred to the Atlanta Conference to pastor Warren. The program involved many changes, notably the renaming of many organizations and the expanding of others. The Womenï¿½s Society of Christian Service expanded the role of women in the church.
This period of unification gave rise to the first Wesleyan Service Guild (1941) below the Mason-Dixon Line. The first Guild Conference President was a Warren member. Also during this time the church property was sold to Clark College, and the present site was purchased.
Once again a new church building was erected and a new name was acquired. The Warren Memorial Methodist Church was established during the administration of The Reverend Thomas.
During the administration of The Reverend E. W. McMillan (1948-1958), one of the most memorable events was the dedication service (1953) for the beautiful stained glass windows. A sacrament altar and new pews were installed, and the Gospel Choir was organized. Financial procedures were also restructured at this time. The unit leaders' name was changed to group leaders. Their function was also modified.
Under The Reverend C. S. Stinson (1958-1966), a former District Superintendent, notable administrative contributions were the establishment of the Quiet Room in the balcony of the church, early morning worship service, the Children's Choir and office space for the church secretary.
The Reverend A. C. Epps (1966-1972) was challenged by an ever-growing membership. Some innovations made during his administration were the selection of altar boys, the Flower Memorial Presentations, a Life Membership in the NAACP, the purchase of the new Methodist Hymnal, the conversion of the parsonage into an education building, and installation of central heat and air conditioning.
The Reverend P. Harold Gray (1972-1980), former pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church in Savannah, acquired a new parsonage and additional parking, and the first level of the church was renovated. The Reverend Gray gave strong leadership in revitalizing the Council on Ministries. Several leadership training retreats were held, which resulted in more informed leaders who developed more effective programs.
During the administration of The Reverend J. D. Grier (1980-1985) the physical plant was completely renovated, a new grand piano was purchased, and a pipe organ was installed.
The Reverend Wimbley Hale, Jr.'s (1985-1995) administration had many accomplishments. Several actions were taken to improve the church and the service to its members and community. The most notable accomplishments include the following purchases and actions:
The Reverend Hale reinstated the church planning retreats. The orders of service activities were supplemented for the Morning Worship, the Wednesday Mid-Week Watch, the Thursday evening Bible Study and the Young Adult Spring Revival. The Warren Memorial Methodist Annual Scholarship Awards program was reactivated.
In June 1995 The Reverend Richard D. Winn, Sr. was appointed Senior Pastor of Warren. There were two outstanding achievements during the first six months of his dynamic leadership. The United Methodist Women refurbished the bathrooms in the sanctuary and the lower level of the church. Secondly, funds were raised by the membership with the leadership of the "Fire and Ice Committee" for a new heating and cooling system for the church. Property on Fair Street was acquired in order to increase the parking area. M. Agnes Jones Elementary School has been adopted by the Church and is presently receiving various aids to enhance the development of its students. The weekly, Wednesday Bible Class has been reestablished and revitalized. Christmas baskets for the sick and shut-ins are an ongoing mission. Also, under the leadership of Dr. Rucker, a weekly visitation program is a vital part of our service to these same sick and shut-ins. The renovation of the kitchen was initiated in 2001 and completed in 2002. During this period the Long Range Planning Committee continues to be focused on revitalization of the entire church.