Rehoboth Church

In 1786, when the Rehoboth Church was dedicated by Bishop Francis Asbury, Monroe County was still a part of Greenbrier County. It wasn't until 1799 that Monroe would separate from Greenbrier. The Rehoboth Church is located in what is now Monroe County, just outside of Union, West Virginia. One of the best accounts of the Rehoboth Church comes from The History of Monroe County, West Virginia by Oren F. Morton, originally published in 1916.

Roadside Marker

"It would seem fitting to devote a chapter of this book to an account of the oldest house of worship in all that portion of the Virginias lying west of the Shenadoah Valley. It occupies an inconspicuous site, is in decrepit condition, and is anything but imposing in size. But associated with this humble structure is a history of great interest."

"Among the people who were living in the Sinks at the close of the Revolution were several Methodist families. Among these were the BLANTONS, the CHRISTYS, the JOHNSONS, and the WARRENS. They held religious meetings at their homes, and as their membership was growing, they organized a regular society late in the summer of 1784. This date, it will be observed, is also that of the independence of the Methodist Church. Their meetings were often at a schoolhouse near where their church was afterward built. Among the local preachers were John WISEMAN and James CHRISTY. The number who attended, many of them coming on foot from a long distance, made it necessary to have a regular preacher. Early in 1785 Edward KEENAN wrote to Bishop ASBURY to send them one. In response to this call, a young man names William PHOEBUS was sent. He was a favorite with ASBURY and is often mentioned by him."

"Although an interested attendant at the meetings, KEENAN was not at this time a member of the society. The parents, both of himself and his wife, were Catholics, and his wife was Catholic also. When the preachers came to his house to hold prayers, his wife and her mother would continue their carding and spinning. But while on his return with PHOEBUS and several other men from attending a meeting on Potts Creek, a conversation arose which lapsed into singing. KEENAN was then and there converted, and he remained a Methodist to the day of his death in 1826. He became a steward and class-leader, for which duties he was highly qualified. His wife and mother-in-law also joined the church."

Rehoboth Church - Then

"The log cabins of the frontier were so small, and the schoolhouses so very few as well as small, that a special house of worship became urgent. KEENAN executed the following bond:

Know all men by these presents, that I, Edward Keenan, of the county of Greenbrier and state of Virginia, am held and truly bound unto William Scarborough, James Scarborough, Daniel McMullen, James Christy, and Alexander House, or such trustees as shall be appointed by the preachers of the Methodist church, in the just sum of fifty pounds of good and lawful money of the state aforesaid, to the which payment well and truly to be made, I bind myself, executors, administrators, and assigns, jointly and severally, and each of them. In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal this ninth day of February in the year of our Lord 1787. The condition of the above obligation is such that if the above bound Edward Keenan shall make or cause to be made a lawful right and title to a tract of land containing four acres, whereupon the preaching house stands, then this obligation to be void, or else remain in full force and effect and in virtue of the law. Whereunto I have set my hand and seal this day and date above written.

Edward Keenan. (Seal)

Signed, sealed, and delivered in presence of teste: Jacob Cook, Abraham Friend.

"The actual deed calls for five acres, but the county book in which it was recorded is now missing."

Rehoboth Church - Now

"The church building was completed in June, 1786. Only logs of medium size were used and it would have taken but a very few days to fell the trees and put the timbers into place. Samuel CLARK, a veteran of the Revolution, was one of the men who placed the wall-logs in their positions. The little building, whose floor space is not quite twenty-one feet by twenty-nine, was set up near the bottom of a circular depression in the limestone tableland. From this circumstance it can scarcely be seen from a distance of more than a hundred yards in any direction. The choice of ground was doubtless because it was not yet felt that the danger of Indian raids was entirely over. The red men could not have come within rifle-shot unseen. It had sometimes been necessary for the settlers around to shelter themselves in Byrnside's fort about two miles away. On one occasion the KEENANs ran to the fort in the darkness. Their baby Margaret was wrappped in a white sheet, so that her mother could better see the way."

"The interments in the churchyard are numerous, and few of the older graves are marked. Among them are those of Edward KEENAN and his wife."

It has been said that "through this country and in distant parts may be found many who can trace back their spiritual pedigree to a revival at Rehoboth."