The members of the First Methodist congregation in Smyrna came from a number of churches and chapels of the local area which had originated as sites of camp meeting grounds. When the circuit rider followed the early settler into the clearings of the wilderness of what is now Middle Tennessee, he preached first in the brush arbor set up in summer beside the cabin by the pioneer father. The local preachers brought or sent here by the tireless Asbury and McKendree (early Methodist clergy) soon outgrew those arbors; and in the summer months, they preached to thousands in camp meetings, gathered for miles around for days at a time for preaching, singing, and worship.
It is not known who spoke the first word or when the first meetings were held which lead to the establishment of a Methodist Church on Madison Street in Smyrna, but it is known that the decision was made during or before 1872. The church became an active unit of members in May, 1873.
This church has seen many events transpire here in her 136 years. This mother Church at Smyrna has seen many kneel in humility at this altar, assume the vows of the Church, and grow in grace and usefulness and Christian stature as strong witnesses for the Christian way of life. She has seen others forsake their vows and forget her.
She has seen joy and sorrow lay their hands impartially on her members, has shared the tears of her own—tears of happiness at weddings performed here and tears of grief at the burial of the dead, and tears of triumph in moments of abiding faith. She has watched infants sleeping on the old settee of one church and has then watched them grow up to become parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents.
The church has enjoyed many lifelong and enduring friendships among her members and families. Friendships interwoven of mutual love and kindness into a fabric of natural beauty and unbreakable strength and lasting wearableness.
She has suffered bitter rifts among her members, rifts unworthy of those who bear Christ’s name, rifts which have left scars and have required many years and many tears and many prayers to overcome.
This church has cherished every man and woman and child who have called her sanctuary their second home. The place is full of memories—of remembered laughter shared over amusing incidents and of remembered tears shared in moments of grief or triumph over grief.
This old church has served as a second home for Christian believers. She will continue to do so. The older and venerable members who have served this Church long and worked hard and given much in proportion to their means for more than 50 years, as their parents had done before them, can be reassured that the beloved old church is in good hands who will also cherish her and keep her as the real and visible House of God as she was meant to be.
Let this Church continue in the tradition of Methodism, to declare the faith, to live its teachings, befriend the needy, sustain the weak, reach out for the unreached, and enrich the spirits of all who worship here.
-Excerpts from "A History of The Smyrna United Methodist Church" written by Adenline King.