OUR HISTORY

The remaining rooms (Sunday school, office, prayer room, nursery and fellowship hall) were added in the late 1930s, with the second floor being added in the late 1950s. In 2005-2006, Robinson Springs performed several needed renovations, including adding siding the to the sides of the church to protect the original wood, repairing the bell tower so that the bell could still be rung before and after each service, completely renovating the fellowship hall, adding new handicapped access, and strengthening the foundation and the balcony support. In 2008, RSUMC received a gift that paved the drive around the church, provided for parking, and added additional land. The church’s plans and photos of the interior and exterior (showing it as one of three perfect architectural southern churches) are stored in the Library of Congress in Washington DC. Bob Gamble, architectural historian with the Alabama Historical Commission, says "The façade itself is a beautiful example of well-proportioned Greek Revival design which was so popular in the 1830’s and 1840’s all across America." The fluted Doric columns were probably hand fashioned by slave carpenters. The church itself was most likely built by a country craftsman who used a handbook as a guide.

The timber foundation was hand-hewn from heart pine and is still solid. The pews were also hand-hewn and are held together by pegs. In the center section, dividers remain in the middle of the pews which were formerly used to keep men on one side of the church and women on the other. Both remain in near perfect condition and are used by the church today. Also, still remaining in the church is the original ornately carved communion rail and pulpit. Peyton Dandridge Bibb, great-grandson of the founding pastor, in collaboration with Mrs. Josie Faulk, commissioned a local craftsman to make a cabinet for RSUMC that now holds the original Bible used by the Rev. Peyton Bibb. During a special worship service on May 18, 1988 Mr. Bibb and his family presented Rev. Bibb's Bible, with its ribboned marker, as a gift to the church. It had remained the family since Rev. Bibb's time. The family also placed the original silver communion vessels, a mallet used to build the church and a conch shell blown to call people to worship before the bell tower was built inside the cabinet. Mr. Bibb said it gave him great pleasure "to return the Bible to its rightful home". The cabinet was consecrated as a memorial to Mr. Bibb's mother and father, Peyton and Florence Bibb, as a gift from each of their children. At the front of the church , on the left side facing the pulpit, are the "anxious benches." These pews came into use during the Camp Meeting movement of the early 1800s. During that time, persons did not kneel at the communion railing in response to an invitation as is common today. Instead, if a person was in need of prayer or wished to give their life to Christ they would sit on the "anxious bench," alerting the pastor and church elders that they needed to talk to someone and/or receive prayer.

At the beginning of the 1800s, missionaries were preaching the gospel to Indians in the Robinson Springs and Coosa Valley

area. Settlers at large were admitted into the area around 1817. Settlers from Rocky Mount (near Millbrook), Coosada, Elmore, Speigner, Deatsville, Dutch Bend (now vanished) and Robinson Springs gathered for nondenominational services in two log assembly houses near Robinson Springs (now the east end of Paige Hills and Briarwood Estates). Around 1828, a custom began of having a summer picnic. The tradition continued until the mid-1980s with a Fourth of July barbecue that was held across the highway from the church grounds.

 In 1828, several Christians of the Methodist tradition adopted a constitution in Baltimore, Maryland, and became the Methodist Protestant Church. They brought the Robinson Springs worshipers together under the leadership of Reverend Payton Bibb—brother of the first two Alabama governors: William Bibb and Thomas Bibb. Charter members are Reverend Peyton and Mrs. Martha Bibb, James B. and Mary Robinson, William Zeigler, George Speigner, Louis G. and Mary Robinson, Alexander McKeithen, Benjamin Gains, Sr., and Mr. and Mrs. Ezekiel Cooper.  Early conference records were lost and the earliest minister recorded starts in 1846, which is a year after the church building was completed. Those joining the completed church in August 1845 included members of the Cotton, Long, Hall, Hodnots, Goodwin, Graves, Glenn, Goree, Jackson, Young, Rives, Reese and Speigner families. The records of 1859 reveal membership consisted of 80 white and 55 African-American worshipers.

 

At the 54th Methodist Protestant conference that was held at the church in 1892, it was voted to “unite with sister churches of non-Episcopal Methodism.” The Methodist Protestant Church of Robinson Springs became part of The Methodist Church in 1939 when the Methodist Protestant Church, Methodist Episcopal Church-North and Methodist Episcopal Church-South united. The ME-North and South joining healed a schism that had occurred shortly before the Civil War. The Methodist Church became the United Methodist Church in 1968 by uniting with the Evangelical United Brethren.  

       

Robinson Springs UMC stands virtually intact with several families of eighth-generation descendants of the church’s founders still worshiping at the church. Currently, the church

has around 170 members with an average attendance of 105. 

1935
TODAY
LATE 1800s

Robinson Springs United Methodist Church (founded in 1828) is one of the oldest churches in Elmore County. The present sanctuary, completed in 1845 in Robinson Springs, was initially located in Autauga County. The church is one of seven southern churches of similar Greek-colonial architecture. The church building is large for rural churches of the time and it’s believed that the builders used the measurements for the tabernacle God gave Moses during the wanderings in the wilderness. The original sanctuary measurements are 90 × 40 × 22 feet.  Included in the sanctuary is a slave gallery that was still in use by African American members after the Civil War. There is no interior access to the balcony as slaves were not allowed to enter the actual sanctuary. As such, the balcony can only be reached through exterior doors.

Robinson Springs 
United Methodist Church

334.285.2488

info@rsum.org

5980 Main Street

Millbrook, AL 36054

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