Clay United Methodist Church
As the community grew, the need for a larger and better building
became apparent. In 1924, during the pastorate of Rev. Jesse McHugh,
the old building was torn away and a new field stone sanctuary was
erected with Rev. McHugh doing the majority of the stone laying. This
building was heated by a large pot-bellied coal heater with the coal pile
located behind the sanctuary. A back door was in the wall at the hack of
the choir and on the choir's left. An amen comer was in the comer
where the choir now enters the sanctuary. At that time a window was
where the door is now. The pews in the amen comer were at a right
angle to all the others so that they faced the pulpit. Lamps were used
for lighting because electricity was not available until 1928. The walls
and ceiling were made of 1x4 tongue and groove wooden boards. The
windows were plain clear glass.
In 1926, the Women's Missionary Society was formed under the
leadership of Mrs. Ola Seeman and has been active through the years.
Many improvements to the church are the results of the effort and
dedication of this group.
The Rev. R. E. Tyler was the pastor in 1932 when the young
people's Epworth League sponsored the building of an annex onto the
sanctuary. Chester Frazier was hired to lay the stones that were brought
to the job site by volunteers from the church. These workers went to
pastures and hillsides throughout the community in mule drawn wagons
gathering the stones. This one large room provided for several Sunday
school classes. Other classes met in the sanctuary.
Shortly after the annex was built, a Sunday school room was added
onto the annex for the Young Men's Bible Class taught by Talmadge
Chandler. The Women’s Missionary Society and the Women's Home
Demonstration Club built and furnished a kitchen joining the Young
Men's Bible Class. Both rooms were accessed through the annex.
In 1942, a new front entrance was built onto the sanctuary
providing protection from the weather and also more space. These
changes took place when Rev. L. E. Price was pastor. At this time Clay
and Palmerdale Methodist churches were on a circuit together. Prior to
this, during Rev. R. E. Tyler's pastorate, Clay was on a circuit with
Springville and Trussville.
When Bro. Price was assigned to Clay-Palmerdale, a parsonage
was purchased by the two churches. This house still stands and is the
first house on the right past the Clay church on Clay-Palmerdale Road.
On the weeks Bro. Price preached at Palmerdale, the young people held
their meetings at the parsonage on Monday nights.
The 1940 year book for the two churches lists the following for
Pastor's Salary. .....................$661.00
District Superintendent .............94.00
Bishop Fund ..............................10.00
Conference Claimants. .............20.00
District Work ............................... 6.50
Rural Work .................................. 6.50
Overseas Relief ...........................6.00
Parsonage Payment ..................81.00
The stained glass windows were placed in the church by various
families in memory and honor of the following: Senior League 1940,
N.H. and Beulah Self, Henry and Hulda Ladd, Calvin F. Tucker and
Family, Henry and Ola Seeman, Women's Beacon Class 1940, Mina
and Higdon Ware, Matt T. Wear and Family, J. D. and Malinda Ware,
H. 5.and Hulda Ware, Arthur and Jane Wear, John H. Chandler,
Luther Price, Sr., and Robert E. Sellers.
Other notes of interest are found in the 1940 year book. There were
391 members enrolled. There were nine members on the Board of
Stewards: Tallmadge Chandler (Chairman), R L. Ware (Vice
Chairman), Earl Self (Secretary-Treasurer), Mrs. Myrtle Self, Mrs.
Grace Holmes, Carl S. Williams, Mary Belle Williams, Miss Hallie
Ware and Fred C. Tucker. Two new members were elected for 1941:
Luther Holloman and Emmett Goodwin. Trustees were T. C. Self, J. H.
Chandler, Berlie Self, and A. C. Frazier.
The Clay church was blessed by having three local preachers
during this time: Brantley Aldridge, J. T.McLaughlin, and R. E. Miller.
Brantley Aldridge was very active in the church. He taught Sunday
School and was a very capable speaker. During the last several years of
his life, he preached regularly at two churches in the area. He never
received a salary for preaching. Instead he only got small love gifts of
money, vegetables, or whatever the congregations had to give. He never
asked for anything. This was his way of sewing the Lord in addition to
his service in his own church. His influence was felt by many. His wife,
Marguerite is currently a member at the Clay church.
J. T. McLaughlin also preached at churches in the area. R E.
"Bob" Miller taught Sunday school for many years, served on the
Official Board, and would preach on occasion in the local church and at
other churches on invitation. He was married to ELma Holmes, one of
the many Holmes in the area who were Methodists.
During Rev. W. R. Giddens pastorate (195 1-1953), more Sunday
school space was needed. An addition to the back of the Young Men's
classroom was added, and the kitchen and annex were partitioned off
making one hallway with nine rooms on each side and another for
access to the kitchen and restrooms.
Rev. Don Mason followed Bro. Giddens and during his ministry a
Boy Scout Troop was formed. This troop needed a place to meet and it
was decided to use the basement area under the annex for this purpose.
The basement had only dirt walls and several of the men along with
Bro. Mason began to work certain nights and Saturdays and completed
two rooms that was ideal for the scouts. The rooms were also used for
Sunday school and young people's meetings.
In the late 1950's the church recommended two other members,
Gordon Ware and Grady Williams, for a license to preach. Grady was a
Supply Pastor taking the Conference Course of Study. He began his
ministry on the Kimberly-Morris Circuit. Bro. Grady is the father of
Betty Atkinson, a current member of the church and Margaret Curtis, a
former member who served as a missionary to Rhodesia (now
Zimbabwe) along with her husband, Tom, for some twenty years.
Gordon Ware was a Student Supply Preacher and began his
ministry on the Snead Circuit. After completing school, he was
accepted as a full time pastor and went on to serve several churches in
the North Alabama Conference before his retirement. Gordon is the son
of the late Jenkins and Ina Ware, and is related to many of the Wares
and Selfs in the Clay church and community.
In 1960, the Trustees were authorized to borrow $8,000 to pay off
The debt of the properly containing five acres the church had recently
Purchased on the east side of the church Then in 1967, he old
Parsonage was sold and a new brick parsonage was built on part of the
Five acre tract. This project was completed during the pastorate of