United Methodists are a happening people! Involved, committed, diverse, open. A people who try to be accepting, caring, hospitable and inclusive. Family and community oriented. A people who are concerned about those beyond their communities, around the world. Active in mission, responsive. A people who love music, church suppers and fellowship. Initiators, with a history of creating ministries related to education, employment, health and other issues. A people who like to tell the story of God's redeeming grace.
The Eastern Shore District of the Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church is comprised of 51 local United Methodist Churches (34 charges with pastoral appointments) and 1 church start in Accomack and Northampton counties. There are 43 churches in Accomack and 9 in Northampton with a total of 7,238 church members as of December 31, 2010. The Eastern Shore District is the oldest district in the second largest Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
"The Eastern Shore of Virginia is one of the few parts of the state, even the nation, that is predominantly Methodist. On the Eastern Shore there is a Methodist church in virtually every village, usually the largest church in town, and the small churches that dot the countryside outside the villages are also most likely to be Methodist.
Virginia's section of the Eastern Shore shares this Methodist dominance with the rest of the Delmarva Peninusla, of which it is the "-va" portion, the others being Delaware and Maryland. Here Methodist hegemony dates back to the American Revolution, when only Francis Asbury of Wesley's "missionaries" cast his lot with the American cause as the colonies went to war for independence from England. In a day when all things English were suspect, and Methodism was still a lay movement within the Church of England, Asbury had to curtial his intinerations. He sought refuge with Judge Thomas White in Kent County, Delaware, and kept the fledgling Methodist movement alive on the peninsula while the rest of the colonies were busy at war. Methodism entered the Virginia Eastern Shore from this northern direction by perhaps as early as 1772, certainly by 1783. By 1795, as Anglicanism languished, Methodism was the largest and most active faith on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, and it established itself even more firmly when a great revival swept the peninsula in 1800 and 1801.
In time, four Methodist denominations found their way to the Eastern Shore: Methodist Episcopal; Methodist Episcopal, South; Methodist Protestant; and African Methodist Episcopal. Since the merger in 1939, Accomack and Northampton, the two counties of the Virginia portion of the peninsula, have comprised the Eastern Shore District, smallest in the Virginia Annual Conference. There are a few A.M.E. congregations within the two counties, and a smaller number of Wesleyan congregations.
The Shore's Episcopal churches are often older and more beautiful, and some of its Presbyterian churches are highly celebrated in the history of that denomination. But for more than two centuries this part of the state has been, in sheer numbers, Methodist territory."
--by Kirk Mariner, author of Revival's Children, A Religious History of Virginia's Eastern Shore
Reprinted with permission
District Superintendent's report to 100th Session of District Conference, Dec. 4, 1969