Lord's Acre/Lord's Hour Sale
Saturday, October 12, 1963, a caravan of cars went from Franklin County to the Lord’s Acre Sale in Galax, Virginia. The people returned delighted with what they saw and confident that Franklin County Methodists could do the same thing. Therefore, at a meeting of the County Council of Methodist Churches on October 17th, it was decided that the Council would sponsor a Lord's Acre-Hour movement. The organizational meeting was set for December 12, 1963, at Pleasant Hill Methodist Church.
The Reverend Richard E. Hamblin, who had been appointed to the South Franklin Methodist Charge in September, 1963, is the person who introduced the idea of the Lord’s Acre program to the people of his charge and of the Council of Methodist Churches. He laid a firm foundation on which his idea could begin, expand and succeed. And his vision led the community and its churches into one of the most meaningful experiences of the Sixties!
Mr. Hamblin was asked to be in charge of the Lord’s Acre program for the county, and it was decided to invite the minister and a lay person from each church of the county to attend the next meeting, which was held January 23, 1964, at Penhook Methodist Church. This significance of this meeting is that the Lord’s Acre-Hour program became a county-wide movement, reaching across denominational and racial lines as 17 churches decided to participate. Officers elected were: Richard Hamblin, Chairman; Mike Stump, Vice-Chairman; Mrs. Clara P. Ross , Secretary; J.W. Perdue, Treasurer; Roscoe Powell, Projects Chairman; Marshall Anderson, Program Chairman; Howard Webster, Grounds Chairman; and Charlotte Seegars, Publicity Chairman.
The first county Lord’s Acre Sale was held Saturday, October 17, 1964 at the old fairgrounds behind the Lane Company plant. (Other sales have been held on the Fred M. Brown Memorial Field behind Franklin County High School.) A parade, with 23 units including three bands, got the Sale underway at 9:30 AM. A brief religious program was held at 10:00 AM, and then the booths, representing the 17 participating churches opened. Among the items offered for sale were: homemade molasses, apple butter, quilts, handwork, vegetables and livestock. Lunch was served at many booths. An auction sale, including items donated by local merchants, began at 1:30 PM.
The first sale was a tremendous success. Proceeds were reported as $18,677 in by the end of the year a total of $30,000 was realized. An unusual incident in connection with the first Lord’s Acre Sale was the heavy rainstorm that soaked the county on Friday before the Sale. Up to this point everyone was working enthusiastically to raise funds at the Sale. When the rains came, people became frantic. What would happen to the carefully made preparations? Our thoughts turned to God, and we put our trust in Him. Saturday was a beautiful day. Men put sawdust on the grounds and crowds of people came.
Sunday, October 18, Redwood Methodist Church was full to capacity of people from each participating Church joined together in a Service of Thanksgiving.
Over the years the movement has continued to grow. Six countywide meetings are held each year on the fourth Thursday of the month at various churches. The year’s program includes: January – Installation of Officers and plans for the New Year; March - dedication of soil, seed, sower and of all projects; May - emphasis on projects; July – orientation of new groups; September – planning for the sale; October – Sale, third Saturday, meeting to evaluate and elect officers. A set of bylaws give guidance, although by vote of the group these laws may be altered to meet changing or emergency situations. Regulations for booths to be erected on sale grounds are provided. Each participating group pays a registration fee of $10.00.
The Lord’s Acre-Lord’s Hour movement has offered congregations the opportunity to build and/or improve churches, educational plants, parsonages; - to give more to missions; - to dedicate their work and goods to God in a meaningful way; - to work together across racial and denominational lines towards a common goal as children of a loving father.
Many ministries and lay persons have worked faithfully in this Movement; we cannot list the names of all of those who cooperation has made the work a success. We do list the Chairmen who have served: the Reverend Richard Hamblin (1964-66), the Reverend M.G. Goodpasture (1966-67), Howard Webster (1967-70) and the Reverend Berlin Hanks (1970-71).