Due to Covid 19, we are currently NOT having in-person worship. Service streams at 9:00AM Sunday

HISTORY OF

MILES MEMORIAL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

(FORMERLY OCEAN VIEW METHODIST CHURCH)

Early Beginnings

Ocean View is part of the city of Norfolk, Virginia. It has several miles of shoreline on the Chesapeake Bay. Originally, Ocean View was a 360-acre region called the Maganon Plantation. In 1854. William Mahone, a young civil engineer who was building the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad, laid out the streets in Ocean View and a the community was established as a private summer resort, and described as the “Coney Island of Virginia.” Methodism in Ocean View got its start in 1909 when a few people who were interested in starting a new church and met at one of their homes. There were already two churches nearby, the Willoughby Chapel, reported, established in 1903, and the Ocean View Baptist Church, established in 1907.

The population of the resort was between one and two thousand people, and consisted mostly of summer cottages at Willoughby and along the Cottage Line, a very sparsely settled Ocean View proper, the amusement park, and a few scattered houses in Lenox and Pamlico. The area between Ocean View and Norfolk, whose limits at that time extended no farther north than the Lafayette River (then known as Tanner’s Creek), consisted of farms and woodlands. The road between these two plates, now known as Granby Street, was just a two-lane road all the way from the wooden bridge crossing the Lafayette River to the Bay shore community of Ocean View.

Transportation then was by horse-drawn vehicles or electric trolley cars. One of the two trolley lines operated along Granby Street. The other, the main line to Ocean View, operated from downtown Norfolk along what is now Chesapeake Boulevard, through fertile farmlands, and across the present Ocean View Golf Course. Open-sided trolley cars were used in the summer months for the resort crowds, and the one-way fare was ten cents.

1909 – 1920 The Late Progressive Era and World War I

In 1909 a few families who wanted to start a new church in Ocean View met in the home of Thomas Henry and Annie Spencer Aldrich on the northeast corner of First Street (now First View Street) and D View Avenue. It is interesting to note that, although Mr. Aldrich was a Catholic and his wife a Baptist, it was in their home that Ocean View Methodism began.

Thomas Henry Aldrich

Soon the number of interested people outgrew the Aldrich house and moved to a larger space in the new (1908) Ocean View Public School at the corner of First View Street and Maple Avenue.

Ocean View Public School - now an apartment building
Tombstone of William Land

The fellowship grew rapidly after the move to the school. Area people sent their children to the Sunday School, and a Bible Class was started. Mr. William J. Land, one of the members of the Bible Class, became its first Superintendent. His relatives, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Bunting, donated a piano. In mid-1909 the Norfolk Methodists formed a City Church Extension Board to “establish Sunday Schools and church societies among the settlers.” They recognized the Ocean View group  and chose its Vicinity as one of four locations to build a new church. This was reported in a Virginian-Pilot article dated February 24, 1910.

Soon after that under the direction of the Rev. J.W. Carroll, pastor of Denby Methodist Church (now Wesley Memorial UMC), Mr. Land donated the lot worth $600 on the northwest corner of Cherry and First View Streets as the site for the church. The cornerstone was laid on May 17, 1911 with Masonic ceremonies at’ 5:00 p.m. by Norfolk’s Atlantic Lodge No. 2, A.F. & A.M. The Ladies Aid Society of the church served cake and cream.

Original 1911 Cornerstone from Ocean View M.E. Church

Rev. W.P. Wright was pastor of the church on a circuit with Pine Beach (now West Little Creek Road) and Bethel (on “the Main Road leading to Sewells Point”), now Zion Grace UMC. The new church cost $5,000 and was consecrated on Sunday afternoon, October 29, 1911. Annual Conference statistics for the year ending November 1911. for the three congregations combined showed a total church membership of 65, a Sunday School enrollment of 110, a total of $1393.22 raised for all purposes, and the pastor’s salary $213.63.

Records from March 1913 show the church name as the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. All ministers appointed to Ocean View until the 1915 Annual Conference were appointed to only one-year pastorates. In November 1915, Rev. Lawrence A. Smith was appointed as pastor and served for five years.

Site of former OV Church parsonage. Now a parking lot for Holy Trinity Catholic Church

1920 - 1932 The Roaring Twenties to the Great Depression

The Ocean View population grew tremendously during and after World War I. As attendance increased, the Sunday School outgrew the church building and again met in the Ocean View Public School. The church bought the lot next to them for $1000 and built a 45 by 90 foot two-story brick building costing $30,000. The cornerstone was laid 4:00 p.m. September 1, 1923 with a service by the Ocean View Masonic Lodge. The new Sunday School building was opened ceremoniously at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 9, 1923, and occupied by the classes of the Sunday School on the following Sunday.

In 1927 religious enthusiasm grew. Sunday School membership was 527 and church membership just over 400. A committee was appointed to look into buying a parsonage. On September 28, 1928 Boy Scout Troop No. 17 was organized at the church, sponsored by the Wesleymen Bible Class. The first Scoutmaster was Mr. C.W. Vogelsang. A Women’s Missionary Society was organized. The pastor’s salary was $1800.

In 1930 when Rev. Benjamin L. Shipman was pastor, the large social hall on the first floor of the educational plant was remodeled and converted into a worship sanctuary. A distinguishing feature of the remodeled structure was the front portico with four white, wooden columns rising the full height of the building. During the remodeling period Mr. Lawrence J. Pace gave the church a magnificent Wurlitzer pipe organ valued at $12,000, in memory of his mother.

On January 29, 1930 the church purchased parsonage property at the southeast corner of First View Street and Government Avenue. A completely furnished house was built for $9,000. The pastor’s salary was increased $700. A debt of $21,500 was repaid on February 21, 1930. The dedication service for the remodeled church building was on September 14, 1930, led by Bishop W.B. Beauchamp. In 1931 Rev. Shipman was expelled on immorality charges and the pulpit was filled by visiting ministers and laymen. In October Rev. George M. Bishop was appointed pastor.

1932–1939 The New Deal and America Prepares Entry Into World War II

During the Great Depression years (1929 -1933) the church experienced a loss in membership, in Sunday School enrollment, and in regular giving. However, as the depression ended and under the pastorate of Rev. Bishop, the church gained 106 members, 54 Sunday School members, and a reduction in the church debt. In December 1934 the pastor’s report to Quarterly Conference indicated some financial problems. In the minutes of the next Quarterly Conference, an entry stated, “Members who did not voluntarily pledge were assessed by the finance committee. Each member so assessed was notified of such assessment.”

In the summer of 1935 an infantile paralysis scare hurt the Sunday School. However, none of its departments had to be closed, and at the close of the Conference Year it reported an enrollment of 500. Mid-1937 marked the date of the first known visit of a missionary to Ocean View Church, Mr. W.C. Chapel. In October 1937 church membership reached 619, the largest number in the history of the church, and the pastor’s salary was raised to $2200.

Ocean View was growing again. In October 1937 the Rev. Henry A. Harrell took over as pastor, and the church facilities were fast becoming inadequate, and also had termites. Organized action was initiated to raise funds for a large, well-equipped, modern church and educational plant. During this period Rev. Harrell reported, “My church is free of debt; even the coal we have is ours”. The last payment on the old debt, in the amount of        $3,023.88, was made on July 30, 1941. Definite and determined action was started under his inspiring leadership to improve the church’s situation.

In 1939 the name of the church was changed when the three great Methodist Church denominations merged: the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and the Methodist Protestant Church. The new name was Ocean View Methodist Church.

Church membership grew to over 600

1940–1945 America’s Involvement In World War II

In November 1940 the church acquired its first telephone service, a telephone installed in the pastor’s study. Soon thereafter, a church secretary was employed on an occasional basis. This arrangement continued until March 1942, when Mrs. R.F. Schaeffer, who had performed the occasional work, was employed by the church as its first secretary on a regular basis.

Also in November a special Thanksgiving Day service was held in the Methodist church with the congregations of the Ocean View Baptist Church, the Ocean View Presbyterian Church, the Episcopal Church of the Advent, and the Christian Church on Chesapeake Street—the first joint service for Ocean View.

In September 1942 Rev. Harrell closed out his five great years of ministry at Ocean View Church—the second five-year pastorate in the history of the church. That year the membership had increased by 175 and the pastor’s salary from $2200 to $3000.

Rev. Leonard R. Black took over as pastor in October 1942. Additional land, adjoining the north side of the existing church property, was purchased for the sum of $800 for a now-unknown purpose. During Rev. Black’s first year the auditorium of the old church building was remodeled for use by the Intermediate Department of the Sunday School, and the Nellie Church Bible Classroom was opened to the church sanctuary to provide more seating for the congregation.

Rev. Black wrote of his congregation in September 1943, “With the demands being made upon their time by the war work, the transportation difficulties, and dim-out (making some of our streets so dark at night you can’t see the sidewalk) they have not failed the church….Every Sunday night, with the exception of the last several months, we have had a Fellowship Hour after the night service for the men in the Armed Forces. Refreshments were served, for the most part, with supplies furnished by the women of the church with their own ration coupons.”

In 1944 the members of the congregation purchased eight lots in Pinewell as the site for a new church building. Four of the lots fronted on the east side of the 9400 block of Granby Street, with the other four abutting them in the rear and fronting on Selby Place. The church bought six of the lots in March 1944 at a cost of $2500. The other two lots were purchased in September 1944 for $1500 by a friend of the church and owner of a local oyster packing company, Captain Rufus L. Miles affectionately known as Captain Rufus.

Plans were made to provide for an expected overflow congregation at the Easter Sunday service on April 1, 1945. These plans included the first known use of outside sound equipment and seating provisions on the church lawn, for worshippers who could not be accommodated in the church. These arrangements for Easter services were also used in 1946.

Original 8 lots for the new church. Four facing Granby St. and four facing Selby Place.

1946–1959 Postwar Boom and a new church

On July 1, 1946 the New Church Building Committee was authorized to hire an architect to draw up a sketch of a master plan. Rev. Black’s very successful ministry ended in October 1946. Over 600 new members were added to the church roll during this time and, although a considerable loss occurred—mainly because of moves of service personnel—church membership reached a total of 1183 and the Sunday School a total of 739. The pastor’s salary was raised to $3600, and a steady growth accomplished in the Building Fund.

On October 6, 1946 the first mixed class for young adults met; named the Young Adult Class, it later became known as the Fellowship Class. There were four more adult classes: two mixed classes, the Asbury Fellowship Class for younger couples, and the Aldersgate Class for the more recently married; The Wesleymen Bible Class for the men and The Nellie Church Class for the ladies. Normally Sunday School classes are named for people, places or things that reflect Methodist heritage like Wesleymen for John Wesley or Asbury for Francis Asbury or Aldersgate for Aldersgate St. in London where John Wesley had his conversion experience. Sometimes classes are named for upbeat, feel good things like The Fellowship Class. The Nellie Church, Class, however, was named for its founder, Nellie Sharpley Church. Not much is known about Nellie but her obituary states she was “An active church worker, she was a member of Miles Memorial Methodist Church. She was the founder of the Bible Class of the Sunday School, which was named for her.”

On December 8, 1946, a month after assuming his duties as pastor, Rev. Ralph L. Haga agreed to head the fund-raising campaign for the new church building. He had the full cooperation of the members of Ocean View Church. Soon after, in April 1947, the old pipe organ, which had become more and more troublesome, was replaced with a new Hammond Electric organ which cost $2257.

Captain Miles contributed $10,000 cash to the Building Fund. In October he presented the first of several challenges to the members of the church: he said that if they would raise $10,000 from outside sources by January 1, 1948, he would match $5,000 of it. They raised $10,341.78 and he gave the church a check for $6000.

Captain Rufus L. Miles

In March, two lots located on the east side of the present 9500 block of Granby Street were purchased as a building site for a new parsonage. Enthusiasm and church attendance increased. On Easter Sunday in 1948 the little stone church was used in addition to the regular sanctuary to accommodate the overflow crowd of worshippers, and a loud speaker system was wired to the little church for the service.

The architect’s plans were released in January 1949. That year marked the high peak in fund-raising efforts for the new church building. Contributions and challenges from friends of the church produced more enthusiasm and spurred the members to more sacrificial giving. A Brick Sales Campaign raised $1,025, and the Wesleymen Bible Class held some profitable fundraisers over a three-year period. The proceeds from the November sale of two lots in Pinewell, originally bought for a parsonage, were also added to the building fund.

A memorial gift made by Mr. Vernon T. Myers in memory of his father enabled the church to purchase an additional three and one-half lots, adjoining the southwest boundary of the new church site, for much-needed church grounds and off-street parking. This was named Myers Memorial Park.

Ground-breaking ceremonies for the new church were conducted at 3:30 p.m. on Easter Sunday, April 17, 1949, with Rev. Haga turning the first shovel of dirt and approximately 300 church members in attendance. The foundation was laid and construction begun on May 16, 1949. Mr. George Van Leeuwen, from the firm of Rudolph, Cooke, and Van Leeuwen, was the architect, and E.T. Gresham Company, Incorporated, General Contractor, the builder. The contract for the entire church plant—sanctuary, chapel, recreation room, and educational plant, but without furnishings, art glass, and air conditioning—amounted to over $216,000. 

The cornerstone was laid on Saturday, July 9, 1949, with Masonic ceremonies by Ocean View Lodge No. 335, A.F. & A.M. of Norfolk, and with Bishop W.W. Peele as principal speaker.

In September 1949 an offer of $20,000 for the church grounds and buildings at the corner of First View and Cherry Streets was accepted and the proceeds applied to the building fund. A building loan of $50,000 was obtained for finishing the construction of the church. As construction progressed, the cornerstones in the old churches were removed and placed, with their original contents, in a wall of the narthex of the new church.

In October 1949 a decision was made to name the chapel in the new church The Severn Webb Memorial Chapel in memory of a devoted member, a consecrated Christian, a faithful servant of God and this church, and an Assistant to the Pastor since the Conference Year 1935-36. An enlarged photo of Rev. Webb hangs at the entrance to the chapel. The first meeting in the new church, that of the Official Board, was held on January 9, 1950 in the Recreation Room.

Many members helped move in during the week of March 13 through 18. The Hammond organ was moved to the beautiful new sanctuary and the old pipe organ sold as salvage material for $650, and the money put in the Building Fund. Although the sanctuary had not been completed, Sunday School and church services were begun in the new church on Sunday, March 19, 1950. Rev. Haga conducted the worship services in the social hall.

Three weeks later, on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1950, and after an intensive all-night effort to complete the installation of the pews in the sanctuary, the new Ocean View Methodist Church on Granby Street was formally opened with appropriate ceremonies. Consecration services for the new church were led by Rev. Haga, who preached at the 10:30 a.m. service, and by Dr. Frank L. Wells, who gave the message at the 11:30 a.m. service. A special program of Easter music was presented by the choir at 8:00 p.m.

On June 24, 1950, one of the church’s benefactors, Captain Rufus Lawson Miles of Lekies Methodist Church, passed away. On October 8, 1950 by Quarterly Conference action, the church name was changed from Ocean View Methodist Church to Miles Memorial Methodist Church. Soon after that, the family of Capt. Miles came into the church and took away his portrait in the narthex, saying that naming the church after him was against his wishes. Years later, the family returned to the church the letter sent to them telling them of the renaming of the church.

The building of the new church, a cherished dream, climaxed the outstanding four-year ministry of Rev. Haga. Not only had a more adequate and modern place of worship become a reality, but church membership had increased to 1443 and Sunday School membership to 889. Rev. Haga wrote, “The reports to this conference will justify every claim to this having been one of the greatest years of achievement on the part of any congregation in Virginia Methodism. We are proud of the record and give God the glory. He has blessed us beyond our dreams. We look forward to the new year of opportunity for spiritual improvement and reaching others for Christ.”

In the fall of 1950 the congregation warmly welcomed their new pastor, Rev. Dr. Theodore M. Swann, who had just been appointed at the Annual Conference in October. But soon, the furnace in the parsonage broke down, and the parsonage family had to spend a night at the Nansemond Hotel in Ocean View while it was fixed. This focused attention sharply on the need for a new parsonage. As a result, action was started immediately toward the purchase of a site or building suitable for the pastor’s home.

On January 25, 1951, the Trustees bought two lots in Pinewell across the street from the rear of the church for $3000. A Parsonage Committee was formed to be responsible for plans, specifications, and contracts of the building of the new parsonage. In early March, the contract was awarded to the low bidder, R.O. Call and T.H. Nicholson, on a cost-plus basis, with the cost estimated not to exceed $19,000.

Construction was started immediately and work on the building proceeded nicely. However, due to the deadline for vacating the already-sold old parsonage, it became necessary to move Dr. Swann and his family into their new brick home, at 9450 Selby Place, in early August 1951—several weeks prior to its final completion in September. The old parsonage at 9484 First View Street, sold to Holy Trinity Catholic Church for $11,000, was later torn down for expansion of their parking lot.

On May 14, 1951, with a genuine concern for its mission in the community, Miles Memorial Church opened its doors for meetings of the Alcoholics Anonymous Club of Ocean View, an organization performing a humanitarian service in the area. The church is still serving as a regular meeting place for this group.

The church also has shown a continued interest in and support for another community group, the Boy Scouts. Over the years it has provided sponsorship and a meeting place for several of the local Scout troops. The most recent one, Boy Scout Troop 19, was formed at Miles Memorial in November 1952. It was organized by Norman Jones, Commissioner of the Ocean View District, and sponsored by the Methodist Men of the church until the church became its sponsor in May 1964. The first Scoutmaster was Mr. R.D. Block.

On the last Sunday in February 1953, the new art glass memorial windows in the sanctuary and chapel were dedicated to the “praise and glory of God.” Those in the sanctuary depict the life of Christ from the Announcement to His Ascension. Those in the chapel contain the symbols of the four Evangelists. They were designed and installed by the Studios of Geo. L. Payne of Patterson, New Jersey.

In 1953 the Sunday School was overcrowded. Rev. Dr. Swann’s pastorate ended early when Annual Conference was changed from October to the month of June. By 1954, Sunday School attendance ranged between 700 and 900 each Sunday.

In September 1954, under the leadership of Rev. Dr. W. Carroll Freeman, a Fishermen’s Club was organized for the purpose of conducting personal evangelism work in the community. In October six additional lots across from the church were purchased for $5000 for use as a parking lot; five of them fronted on the west side of Granby Street, while one fronted on the north side of Cherry Street. However, they were never prepared as a parking lot, and were later sold to meet obligations.

In November a Steering Committee was appointed to consult with the architect about the building addition needed for the educational plant. Classes for handicapped preschool-age children were started in the room now used as the pastor’s study. On November 21 the congregation welcomed back Rev. Haga and Mrs. Haga at a dedication service for the chimes in the church tower contributed in their honor. The Thanksgiving Day service was expanded by Rev. Dr. Freeman into a United Thanksgiving Day Service with other churches in the area, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, meeting in them on a rotating basis and with a visiting minister in the pulpit. A capital campaign to raise funds for a new educational wing was kicked off with a Loyalty Dinner held at the Nansemond Hotel.

By July 1955, following a building campaign, air-conditioning was installed in the sanctuary. In September plans for the additional classrooms were received from the architects, Rudolph, Cooke, and Van Leeuwen. In early October a New Building Committee began functioning, and by late October construction was under way. Also in October, Miles Memorial Church employed its first full-time Minister of Music, Miss Rosa Belle Stewart.

On Easter Sunday in 1956 Sunday School attendance reached its all-time high of 1000. On May 25, 1956 the Trustees purchased the house at 9464 Granby Street, almost next door to the church. The 16 additional Sunday School classrooms built by the E.T. Gresham Company cost about $130,000, were completed in September 1956, and occupied on the last Sunday of September. They were located mostly on land originally called Myers Memorial Park, and joined to the south side of the existing building.

In June 1957 Rev. L.T. Hathaway was appointed as the church’s first Associate Minister and began his duties with a special emphasis on ministry with the youth. Also in 1957 the church employed its first Educational Assistant, Mrs. Martha DeLara, previously the Director of the Weekday Kindergarten. The DeLara family moved to Gloucester VA in 1959 and Mrs. DeLara passed away in 2012 at the age of 101.

In June 1958 Rev. Dr. Freeman completed a most successful four-year pastorate at Miles Memorial Church. During these years the church experienced the greatest growth period in its history; membership rose to 2387, Sunday School reached an enrollment of 1626, and Vacation Church School reached 198.

The new pastor, Rev. Dr. John R. Hendricks, came at a time of much unrest and turmoil in the South regarding the forced racial integration of students in public schools. In September 1958 the Norfolk public schools did not open. Beginning in October, the church permitted use of the building to tutor local Junior High and High School students until such time that the public schools would again be open. November 19, 1958 was the church’s first annual Harvest Day. On August 17, 1959 the Trustees purchased two additional lots, located on the southeast corner of Granby Street and Government Avenue, for use as a parking lot; this cost $9000. The public schools reopened in February 1959.

The 1960s New Frontier and Great Society

During 1960 the church experienced a long period of financial stress due to a drop in collections. A recommendation was made to sell the property at Granby and Cherry Streets. In August 1960 the house at 9464 Granby Street became the residence of the Miles Memorial Associate Ministers. In January 1961 the church accepted an offer of $7000 for the six lots at Granby and Cherry Streets, and used the proceeds to satisfy the note held against them, and to prepare the more recently purchased property for use as a parking lot. In June 1961 the church membership was 2467. Rev. Dr. W.W. McIntyre came in and the total church debt was refinanced during that year.

In October 1961 Bishop Paul N. Garber, Presiding Bishop of the Virginia Annual Conference, launched a statewide crusade for Christian Higher Education—a project which included support for the establishment of Virginia Wesleyan College. He appealed for donations and Miles Memorial responded with pledges totaling just under $40,000.

The church parlor was renovated in 1962 and the sanctuary and chapel renovated in 1963 and 1964. In the spring of 1963 a new piano was purchased for the sanctuary. In July 1963, air-conditioning was installed in the pastor’s study as a gift from Boy Scout Troop 19. In 1964 the kitchen was renovated. In February 1965 a fire started around a window air-conditioner in the old nursery room, and caused extensive smoke damage in much of the church school before it was discovered.

During Rev. Dr. McIntyre’s ministry (1961-1965) the church membership rolls were updated and thus reduced the rolls to a total of just over 2000 members. In June 1965 Rev. Lee 0. Mortzfeldt came into the church. A great Homecoming Day was held, with morning and evening services, an old-fashioned hymn sing in the afternoon, and a great picnic dinner served at noon.

On January 19, 1966 the first Prayer Breakfast was held at the church by the Women’s Society of Christian Service. Later that year air-conditioning units were installed in the parsonage and the church secretary’s office, and support of $2,000 per year started for Mr. and Mrs. J.W. Garrison, missionaries in San Palo, Brazil. On September 15, 1966 the church hired a Director of Religious Education; Miss Nancy Ruth Best served Miles Memorial for only five months before resigning to accept a better position.

On July 1, 1968 the name of the church was changed to Miles Memorial United Methodist Church, the result of a merger of the Evangelical United Brethren Church and the Methodist Church. In December 1968 a survey of Virginia’s leading churches placed Miles Memorial first in the percentage of enrollment attending Church School.

In 1969 the chapel was air-conditioned. During 1969 Rev. John Teter came to Miles Memorial; he soon began an expanded program of visitation, assisted by the new Minister of Visitation, retired minister Rev. Irwin G. Couch.

The 70's 80's & 90

On January 1, 1970 the local church structure was reorganized. In August 1970 approval was given to establish a religious memorial library at the church and to use $500 of the church’s inheritance to start it; Mrs. Norris Bartlett was named as librarian. At the same meeting the church was asked to store some furniture for the District parsonage, and was glad to oblige. On Ministry Sunday, September 27, 1970, a great Day of Remembrance was held for the retired ministers and their wives living in Pinewell. Work on a Pictorial Church Directory was begun in May 1971 and completed in February 1972.  Since then approximately 10 more directories have been completed. On June 25, 1972 there was a Day of Dedication service, with Rev. Haga preaching the sermon, as the church celebrated the retirement of all its indebtedness.

During Rev. Norman Preston’s pastorate, a Christmas play began under the direction of Shelley Cady.  This much anticipated annual event continues today.

Miles started a Men’s softball team playing in a Norfolk city church league providing an opportunity fun and Christian fellowship. During the 1990’s the church formed a co-ed team that won several championships then in the early 2010’s the co-ed disbanded and a men’s team was again formed also winning several championships.

Under Rev. Murray Unruh, lay people began reading the Scriptures every Sunday morning. To various degrees this continues today as lay people continue to take an active part in the Sunday worship service.

Serving seven years, Rev. Morris Bennett, 1994-2001, was the longest serving pastor of Miles Memorial.  As part of his Doctoral project, he created a program for providing monthly communion for our homebound. Volunteers take consecrated communion elements to homes and nursing facilities of members who are unable to come to church. This program is still offered monthly, however it has been temporarily suspended due to Covid restrictions. The United Methodist Men began an annual golf tournament to support their mission goals. This event generally has 25 foursomes that enjoy 18 holes at the beautiful Ocean View Golf Course followed by a luncheon. Also under Rev. Bennett the laity began taking a more active role in preaching on Sunday mornings.

The 2000's

At the conclusion of Rev. Bennett’s pastorate, Rev. Gus Wright began his ministry at Miles. During his tenure, Rev. Wright helped organize 2 highly successful auctions. The highpoint of Rev. Wright’s time at Miles was the creation of a Contemporary worship service. The service began in the chapel and due to increased attendance soon moved to the sanctuary. The service is characterized by modern Christian music accompanied by a small band.

In July 2005, Miles welcomed its first female pastor, Rev. Kathleen Monge. Under Rev. Monge’s pastorate, a youth group called Teens Disciples In Fellowship began. Ms. Martha Hill created a used item store called the Buzzaar Room in 2006, bringing in extra funds.

Homeschool groups began using the building. Under Rev. Monge, Miles began supporting Operation Christmas Child. Through the years, members have packed an untold number of shoeboxes to support this important mission of Samaritan’s Purse.

Ms. Lisa Orton created Miles’ first social media presence, starting a Facebook group.  In August 2009, a successful mission trip to Chile, South America was completed. In October 2009, we celebrated 100 years of ministry in Ocean View. The celebration began with morning worship with former pastors Rev. Reginald Potts, Rev. Dan Ivey, Rev. Morris Bennett and former associate pastor Rev. Lewis Morgan assisting. Also assisting were members of Miles who heard the call of God while at Miles and entered the ministry. They included Rev. Robert Hastings, Rev. Elizabeth Patterson Freund, Rev. Edward Johnson, Rev. John Shappell and Rev. Thad Decker.  The celebration concluded with a covered dish luncheon where members were able to reconnect with old friends.

July 2010 began the pastorate of Rev. John Haynes. During his time we started several new traditions. Miles celebrates springtime by holding an annual fish fry. Good food, served in person or to go, and entertainment highlight this annual event. As the weather turns cooler, Miles runs a pumpkin patch with various size pumpkins and gourds for sales and as fall prepares to give way to winter, the pumpkin patch transforms into a Christmas Tree lot where guests can purchase some of the freshest cut trees in the area. In-between the pumpkin patch and the Christmas tree lot, Miles holds its annual Fall festival. This one day event brings the community together with vendors, hayrides, children’s games, a photo booth, funnel cakes, and freshly prepared Bunswick stew and Barbecue.

A Wednesday morning community breakfast began and included a short service prior to breakfast and a clothes closet providing clothing to those in need.

Ms. Lisa Orton started a group called Girls Like Us or ‘GLU’, where older youth girls and adult women (and on occasion a few men) have an opportunity to mentor younger girls using examples of women in the Bible. Finally, under the direction of Ms. Ginny Jacobs, a children’s handbell choir call KidzBells was started.

Rev. Dr. David Goodpasture was appointed pastor in 2016. During Rev. Goodpasture’s ministry, 2 very successful mission trips to the Jubilee Center in Sneedville, Tennessee in the heart of Appalachia, were completed. During the trips, members spent a week at a time completing construction projects for residents of the area. Rev. Goodpasture’s ministry has been challenging due to the constraints of Covid 19. In order to remain relevant during unusual times and to continue delivering God’s Word, Miles began streaming its Sunday service.

There have been many changes since the little group met in the Thomas and Annie Aldrich home and formed a fellowship more than 100 years ago. Many thousands have passed through our doors. God has wonderfully blessed this church. May the ministry and influence of this church always contribute to the glory of God and His Kingdom.