By Morgan Cook
Leicester- Before cars took over the roads, horses and buggies were the primary mode of transportation if you were lucky enough not to have to walk. The use of horses and carriages meant that individuals could not wander very far from home every Sunday morning for church services.
Church was a vital part of these communities and dozens of churches sprang up so everyone had somewhere to worship. With the number of churches in the area growing, there was a need for more ministers. The solution was simple, to hire circuit riders. Circuit riders were primarily Methodist pastors who rode on horseback from church to church each Sunday.
One circuit, according to documents found at the Leicester Library that give us a glimpse into the past, was the Leicester Circuit which had ten churches in it. These included Big Sandy, Brick Church, Chestnut Grove, Dix’s Creek, Grace, Leicester, Little Sandy and Cross Rock, Teagues, Western, and Gillespie.
According to the report document dated from 1910 to 1940, the largest of these churches was Little Sandy and Cross Rock, which had 115 members and 162 individuals enrolled in Sunday School. The other nine churches ranged from 11 members to 83 members total, with anywhere from 30 to 101 individuals enrolled in Sunday School. Each of these churches also paid a salary, Brick Church paying the most at $185 total. This church also raised the most through missionary collections at $112 total. Each church had its own Official Board of Trustees, Sunday School Superintendents, and Stewards.
Reverend James H. Green. was on the Leicester Circuit from 1910 through 1924, spending a total of four years serving the community. Green visited these ten different churches.
In total, after working for four years, Rev. Green traveled 8,000 miles. During all of that traveling, he visited churches 1,217 times, preached 801 sermons, baptized 145 individuals, and led 300 people to the faith. He helped to strengthen the area’s sense of community. He was able to help build two new churches and bought four church organs to help in Sunday music worship.
The information for this article, which helps readers to know of Rev. Green’s work, comes from a book: Little Sandy Methodist Church’s Cemeteries and History, by Venita Price Reeves.