Courtesy of Red Hill UMC

In the 1800’s, earlier generations gathered each Sunday for worship services in a rustic, log cabin structure located near Ten Mile Creek, east of where the church cemetery is located today.  

The church was known in the community as the Primitive Hard Shell Baptist Profession Church of Holmes County, Florida. Regretfully, no record of the history of this church exists due to a fire that destroyed the Holmes County Courthouse during the 1800’s.

It is known however that an existing cemetery was located near the Primitive Hard Shell Baptist Church. A deed was recorded in 1881 for a one-acre plot of land.  

The deed was made between John J. Perkins and his wife Elizabeth Catherine Whitaker Perkins.  This land was used for an addition to the existing ‘Whitaker Graveyard.’  

Years later, on January 18, 1907, a deed was made for another one-acre plot of land from Mr. J. J. Hall and his wife Mrs. M. L. Hall and Primitive Baptist Church to Whitaker Graveyard.

In the early 1920’s, two brothers, J. D. (Jim) and J. J. (Jonas) Whitaker, had the desire to build a church across the road from where the old log structure was standing.  Land was purchased from the Alabama Lumber Company and the construction of a small, one-room bungalow structure was underway atop a red clay hill across the road from where Red Hill UMC church is currently located today.  

Mr. Albert Johnson believed in the project enough that he donated the timber used to build the sanctuary. Jim and Jonas Whitaker took the logs to the nearby sawmill to have them cut into planks and other materials and items for the church.  

The brothers’ commitment became reality when the first services were held in the new building in the winter of 1923 with a pot-bellied stove warming those attending.  In July 1923, the church joined the Methodist Episcopal Church and was placed on the Noma charge of the Marianna District, Alabama Conference Methodist Episcopal Church.  

Rev. J. A. Kelly, a Methodist Circuit Rider, was the first pastor to serve the small church sitting atop the red clay hill. In joining the Methodist Episcopal Church, Red Hill was one of seven churches on the charge.  

Being a pastor in charge of seven churches meant that Pastor Kelly would preach at seven different churches each Sunday. The time slot for services at Red Hill was 2 p.m.

Red Hill remained on the Alabama-West-Florida Charge for more than 50 years with a number of other churches including Cedar Grove, Bethlehem, Pond Town and Black UMC.

In the early 70’s plans were being made for a new church building. The members wanted to build the church beside the cemetery on the west side of Highway 2, which was then known as the ‘Hog & Hominy Road.’  Land was traded for an equal parcel from Mrs. Elvia Meadows.  

The Rev. Cecil Coleman, pastor of Red Hill UMC, along with several members were present for the groundbreaking ceremony, November 30, 1972. The first services were held in the new building November 3, 1974. Dedication services for the new church were held January 16, 1977.  

The old one-room bungalow church had become a place that held many memories of sacred harp singing and dinner on the ground. It was eventually sold for $500 to Mrs. Barbara Goff and moved off the land to a location on Highway 79, south of Esto, Florida where it became a daycare for several years.  

The building still stands today as a personal dwelling.

In 1985 plans were being made to build a foyer and move the restrooms to the front of the church. A Sunday school room, restrooms and a storage area were added.

In 1989 plans were being made for a dining hall to be added to the church.  The rafters for the dining hall were raised in February 1990.  

On November 18, 1990, homecoming was celebrated and lunch was served in the new fellowship hall.

Until 1984, Red Hill continued to remain on a charge with six other churches, which means services were only held once a month. In October 1984, Red Hill was changed to a two-point charge with Bethlehem UMC.  

For the first time in the church’s history Red Hill would share a pastor with Bethlehem UMC.  This charge allowed Red Hill and Bethlehem to rotate a Pastor every other Sunday.  

Preaching services for Red Hill were held on the first and third Sunday of each month, rotating the fifth Sunday between the two churches.  

However, the doors of the church were open every Sunday and members would gather for Sunday School and fellowship.

It was not until the mid-1990s that Red Hill was supplied with a young, part-time supply pastor, Anthony Cuchens, who encouraged the congregation to step out in faith and help support a pastor to fill the pulpit each Sunday.  

It was not until a few years after Anthony had been appointed to other churches, that the realization of having a full-time pastor happened for Red Hill. June 2000 brought the appointment of Bro. Charles Wimberly to Red Hill UMC.  

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