The following history was written by Jane Zetty who did all of the research in order to nominate the Lake Toxaway United Methodist Church to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Lake Toxaway Methodist Church, a simple Gothic Revival-style frame building dating from 1912, overlooks scenic Lake Toxaway in the Blue ridge Mountains of Transylvania County. Originally called Methodist Episcopal Church South, the building was erected by volunteer Methodist farmers using donated pine lumber and building supplies. The church, with its original weatherboard, Gothic-arched windows and six-sided belfry, is one of the most stylish and best preserved of the small group of historic churches of traditional frame construction surviving in this mountainous county. At the same time that the area was developing as a luxurious resort for wealthy industrialists, local farmers built this church with donated materials and volunteer labor on a lot given to them by Edward M. Jennings, the Pittsburgh developer who owned Lake Toxaway.
The year 1896 was a significant one for the people of the Toxaway district of Transylvania County, particularly the Methodist congregation who were descendants of German, Welsh, and Irish settlers who had come from Virginia in the 1700’s seeking land and relief from obligatory religious tithing. The Cherokee had moved west and men and corporations moved into western North Carolina, bringing with them the railroad, tanneries, lumber companies, and sawmills. In 1896 J. F. Hayes, of Newcastle, Pennsylvania, formed a group of stockholders whose purpose was “to build and develop fine resorts in Transylvania and Jackson counties,” and the name title the “Toxaway Company” was granted. From then until the present time, the Toxaway Company has been the predominant factor in the development of this area of Transylvania County.
At that time there were no church buildings in the area. Spiritual needs were met by itinerant preachers who arrived from time to time to perform marriages, christenings, and funerals and to conduct camp meetings at a site located about eight miles west of Rosman at the base of Toxaway and Cold mountains, encompassing the basin of the Toxaway River. The campsite was on the riverbank about one-half mile south of the church’s present location. In 1901, Jf. F. Hayes dammed the Toxaway River and flooded 540 acres of bottom land to create a resort lake. The Methodist camp meeting site disappeared beneath the waters of the new Lake Toxaway.
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Here in the garden, hewn from the mountainside,
we thank thee Father that love and peace abide.
The Memorial Garden has been created for meditation, prayer, and placement of cremated remains. The wall columbarium contains 24 individual vaults with 9-inch bronze doors. The ground columbarium has 32 one-foot-square spaces with 9-inch bronze markers. There is also an area for scattering. The memorial plaque, on the exterior church wall within the garden, has a standard nameplate for each person buried or scattered in the garden. The wall and ground columbariums display a standard nameplate on the individual vault door or marker cover.
A new wall columbarium will be built between the two large trees near the bench. As soon as weather permits, construction will begin. The administrative council has approved this construction and previously donated restricted funds earmarked for this expansion will be utilized to pay for the new wall.
Eligibility – The Memorial Garden is intended for the use of church members, associate members, affiliated members, and their immediate families. Friends of the church for more than one year, and former members, with the approval of the pastor, may also be eligible.
Services – Arrangements for placement of creamated remains and memorial service can be made by calling the churh at (828) 966-9017.
Plantings – Flower arrangements and plants shall not remain in the garden after the internment service.
Records – Records of name, date of birth, date of death, and location of the ashes within the Memorial Garden are kept by the Memorial Garden committee chairman.
Placement Fees – Wall Columbarium Vault $550
Ground Columbarium $350
To Scatter $200
Reservations – Space may be reserved prior to death in either columbarium or in the garden, with a $100 non-refundable reservation and completed application. The $100 reservation fee will be applied to the total cost at time of burial. Applying for a specific columbarium requires payment in full with the application.
Applications – Complete the attached form and mail to the address below with a check made payable to LTUMC Memorial Garden.
Mail Applications to:
Lake Toxaway United Methodist Church
PO Box 83
Lake Toxaway, NC 28747
Reverend Marcus Dodson
Reverend Marcus Dodson serves full-time as the chaplain/discharge planner at Transylvania Regional Hospital which includes serving as chaplain to CareParnters Hospice (27 years). He serves as quarter-time pastor of Lake Toxaway United Methodist Church. In 2020 he was reappointed for his 26th year at Lake Toxaway UMC and enjoys the opportunity to be bi-vocational. Marcus began to experience his call to Christian ministry as a teenager. He continues to enjoy pursing his growth as a minister and Christian through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, practices of spiritual discipline and accountability to a couple of close friends. He shares “the boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places for him (Psalm 16).” He is a graduate of Furman University and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and completed his chaplaincy training at UNC Hospitals.
Marcus’ wife, Kim, is an ordained deacon and serves in a part-time position at First United Methodist Church, Brevard. They have been married for 31 years and have three adult children, Maggie, Jeremy, and Emilee. Maggie graduated from Virginia Tech and lives in Syracuse, NY. Jeremy graduated from Georgia Tech and lives in Atlanta, GA. Emilee is a junior at NC State University. The family is completed with two pets: Gray, a Golden Retriever and Georgie, a calico cat.
Marcus’s interests include reading Southern fiction and dreaming about writing a novel one day. He also enjoys humor, music, and friendships. He describes being a parent as the most important work he has done in his life. Although an introvert, he enjoys people and has special interest in helping people during times of crisis and at the end of life. Marcus considers his “regular-ness” and humility as his greatest pastoral gifts. He believes God in Christ invites all of us to find our call to ministry and to experience the joy of participating in the building of God’s community.
Charlie Steele: Organist
We are very pleased to announce the addition of Organist to our staff at Lake Toxaway United Methodist Church. Dr. Charlie W. Steele has agreed to become a member of our outstanding team.
Charlie identifies with this rural area, as he grew up on a farm in southwestern Virginia and began playing the organ at age 12. His unique and extensive musical background includes many milestones:
Charlie retired with fanfare from Brevard-Davidson River Presbyterian in July of 2018, but his love of music and his Christian devotion have led him to fill in occasionally at local churches, including here at Lake Toxaway since the sad loss of our beloved Ruth Cech in January.
Charlie’s devotion and humility are reflected in his statement on retirement that, "I've been really blessed and fortunate in my career and in all the experiences I've had, which have been much beyond what I dreamed of growing up."
It is our sincere pleasure to welcome Charlie Steele to Lake Toxaway United Methodist Church, as well as his wife, Patti, who is also a talented musician. Charlie and Patti love to garden in their free time.
Saunders Grommesh: Church Administrator
Effective April 15th, 2020, Mrs. Saunders Grommesh accepted the new role of our new Church Administrator for our special Lake Toxaway United Methodist Church. This is a part-time position, designed through an extensive job description to:
As you can see, this is a big, challenging job. It is aimed at raising the efficiency of our church, while increasing our ability to do God’s work in outreach services to those in need in our local communities. We feel Saunders is uniquely qualified for this service, as this short description shows:
Saunders was born and raised in the South – New Orleans, LA and graduated with a double major in Information Systems & Graphic Design & Asian Studies from Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, VA. She started her career working in Charlotte, NC and was asked to help start the new Microsoft site in Dallas, TX. She worked 20 years for Microsoft Corp. as a Technical Support Engineer & Manager where she was a technical support engineer, did training and hiring in Charlotte, NC, Dallas, TX, Fargo, ND, and Bangalore, India. After force-reduction retirement, she worked several Associate & Administrator jobs in Texas. Mostly for non-profits and assisted living & memory care assignments.
Saunders purchased a vacation home in 2000 and recently moved here permanently in 2017. She worked for United Way of Transylvania County as the Resource Development Director until they closed in January 2020. She has been very involved in charity and community work in Texas and here in our area where she serves on several local non-profit boards and is an Augustine Literacy Program tutor at Rosman Elementary School.
Saunders and Matt, have been married for sixteen and half years and we have two new black lab puppies: Momus and Chaos. They live just a mile away from the church so if you ever need anything please do not hesitate to ask. Her hobbies are photography, hiking, volunteering and explore our beautiful waterfalls and scenic drives. Lake Toxaway is her second home as she started vacationing here back in the ‘70s.
Saunders, by unique and (probably Devine) circumstance was also an acquaintance and “soul-mate” of our beloved Ruth Cech. She and Ruth shared a passion for photography, and got to know each other a few years before Ruth’s passing.
174 Cold Mountain Road
Lake Toxaway, NC 28747
P.O. Box 83
Lake Toxaway, NC 28747