Mill Grove United Methodist Church is a vibrant, growing church in Indian Trail with a deeply rooted history in the community. Founded in 1846, the original chapel is made of hand dressed planks which are held together by wooden pegs. Church records speculate that it was named Mill Grove because it was located across the road from Stewart’s Mill. Prior to Mill Grove Road’s construction, the church was located on Stewart Mill Road, which ran between Stevens Mill Road and what we know today as Fairview-Indian Trail Road. Stewart Mill Road ran in front of Ritch Cemetery, where many of the earlier church members were buried. As the town changed and constructed new roads, Mill Grove Road ended up dividing the church property, leaving the original sanctuary facing away from the road for many years.
Our congregation experienced many changes over the years. Records show that slaves used to attend services with their masters, and for a time the pews were marked with a divider running from the front of the church to the back to separate the men from the women. And in the 1970s, some of the elders of the community recalled attending Mill Grove school on the church property.
As the years passed, our congregation continued to grow, and so did the need for more space to worship. By the mid 1950s the church had grown so much that five classes were meeting in the sanctuary for Sunday School. As a result, in August of 1956, church members decided to build four rooms onto the church to provide space to separate the classes and to accommodate the progress of the church. Then in 1969, an educational building with a kitchen was constructed to provide even more space for Sunday School classes. Other structural changes included a remodel of the sanctuary in 1980 with new pews and carpet (the pulpit was left to show the original décor) and a new parsonage built beside the church to replace the original in Unionville.
A New Leaf
Indian Trail went through its own growth spurt and by 2001 so many people had moved to the area and joined the Mill Grove Church family that a major change was necessary. A new Christian Life Center was built with a large room for worship, six classrooms for Sunday School, and a large commercial kitchen to prepare great meals for events and fellowship. The original sanctuary was moved to a different location on the church grounds in 2006 to make room for construction of a nine classroom expansion. Church and community members are able to use the facilities for meetings and events and there is usually something exciting happening at church almost every day.
A New Life
Our latest opportunity to spread God’s Word came to us in the Fall of 2013. Bethel United Methodist Church in the Sun Valley area was struggling with declining attendance and felt they needed revitalization. Mill Grove, with its successful growth over the years, was just the church to help. The two nineteenth century churches decided to merge, forming “one church, two campuses,” and sharing their resources to grow God’s Kingdom. On December 24, 2013, Bethel held their last service and remained closed until the following Easter Sunday, when they were re-launched as Mill Grove United Methodist Church – Sun Valley Campus. The original location on Mill Grove Road is now known as the Hemby Bridge Campus. With this merger the community is able to choose from a favorite service at a campus convenient to them, with numerous Sunday School classes between them. With two locations and live streaming for all Hemby Bridge services, there are plenty of opportunities to worship our Lord and be a part of our wonderful Mill Grove church family.