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Have you been thinking about visiting Union Grove? Are you new to the area? Do you have questions about our worship service or other activities? Questions about us? Questions about God? Jesus? What church means and should be? Then this is a good starting point. If you don’t find the answer here, contact us. Our pastor will be happy to meet with you personally.
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Faithful Fellowship Since 1868

From an article in the Daily Times (Maryville) by Wilma Baldwin, we learn the earliest mention of a Methodist presence in Union Grove Community was in 1868 when it was reported in the Holston Journal that those attending a Lay meeting included delegates from Union Grove. In 1873, a parcel of land was deeded to a committee consisting of William Jones, Josiah Henderson, P.H. Lane, G.R. Curtis, and W.H. Clark, for the purpose of building Union School and Meeting House. The building, constructed of logs held together with pegs and having “rough boards with no backs” for seating, was used for Camp Meetings two weeks each summer (usually in August).

Ms. Baldwin wrote, “Although the preaching often lasted well into the night and long past the bedtime of the young children, it presented no problem for they were bedded among the straw which was on the floor of the shed.” The camp meetings were non-denominational. Visiting preachers at the meetings included Mr. Moore (Cumberland Presbyterian), Mrs. Hackney (Quaker), and Mr. Metsler (Salvation Army).

By the 1880s, there was interest in building and founding a more permanent church. The community debated on whether it would be a Southern or Northern Episcopal Church, with a decision ultimately made to found a Northern Episcopal Church.  The sanctuary of the present church was built in 1885 or 1886 in a rustic form on land deeded by John and H.A. Walker to the Trustees of Union Grove, D.P. Baldwin, C.T. Lane, Albert Potter, E.R. Curtis, and Dallas Miser.  The structure was a small building with rough pews and a potbelly stove that sat in the middle of the room. There were kerosene lamps in brackets on the walls near the windows and a wrought iron chandelier that held kerosene lamps as well.

The kerosene lighting was replaced when electricity arrived in 1942. Eventually, the potbelly stove was replaced with a coal furnace and then a gas furnace, and the basement and block foundation were added in 1950.  As the years passed, other structures were added to Union Grove. The parsonage was built in 1954, and the 12-classroom educational building was added in 1963. The sanctuary was remodeled in the early 1970s, and the Community building underwent remodeling in 1980.

Union Grove is fortunate that members took the time to write its history down for a centennial celebration in 1986. We’ll be adding a special page with a more complete history soon!

Mission & Purpose

Our mission is to serve God by sharing love and faith through the word of God. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, our purpose is to be living examples of God’s redeeming and transforming love for all creation as we carry the Good News Jesus brought and taught us out into our community and the world and to do good, do no harm, and love God always.

Union Grove is in the Smoky Mountain District of the Holston Conference, part of the Southeast Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church.

What We Believe

As United Methodists, we have an obligation to bear a faithful Christian witness to Jesus Christ, the living reality at the center of the Church’s life and witness. To fulfill this obligation, we reflect critically on our biblical and theological inheritance, striving to express faithfully the witness we make in our own time.

United Methodists share a common heritage with all Christians. According to our foundational statement of beliefs in The Book of Discipline, we share the following basic affirmations in common with all Christian communities:


When we say the Apostles’ Creed, we join with millions of Christians through the ages in an understanding of God as a Trinity—three persons in one: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God, who is one, is revealed in three distinct persons. “God in three persons, blessed Trinity” is one way of speaking about the several ways we experience God.


In trying to find words to express their faith in Jesus, the New Testament writers gave him various names. Jesus was Master, Rabbi, Teacher. He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He was the Doorway to the sheepfold, the Light of the world, the Prince of Peace, and more. In the church’s long tradition, scores of other names or titles have been given.

Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is God’s present activity in our midst. When we sense God’s leading, God’s challenge, or God’s support or comfort, we say that it’s the Holy Spirit at work.

In Hebrew, the words for Spirit, wind, and breath are nearly the same. The same is true in Greek. In trying to describe God’s activity among them, the ancients were saying that it was like God’s breath, like a sacred wind. It could not be seen or held: “The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes” (John 3:8). But the effect of God’s Spirit, like the wind, could be felt and known.

Human Beings

  • We believe that God created all human beings in God’s image.
  • We believe that humans can choose to acknowledge or deny a relationship with God.
  • We believe God knows, is known to and by, and loves undconditionally every human.
  • We believe God has made themself known to humans in many ways by many names.
  • We believe that all humans benefit by being in relationship with God.
  • We believe that every human’s relationship with God is unique and that no two humans have identical relationships with God.
  • We believe it is God’s will that every human being love every other human being.


  • We believe that the church is not a building, but the people who follow Christ.
  • We believe that the church is the body of Christ, an extension of Christ’s life and ministry in the world today.
  • We believe that the mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
  • We believe that the church is “the communion of saints,” a community made up of all past, present, and future disciples of Christ.
  • We believe that the church is called to worship God and to support those who participate in its life as they grow in faith.

The Bible

The Bible is vital to our faith and life. A collection of sixty-six books, thirty-nine in the Old Testament (or Hebrew Bible), and twenty-seven in the New Testament written over a one-thousand-year period in three languages … Hebrew, Aramaic (the language Jesus spoke), and Greek, the Bible is one story of the God who stands in a covenant relationship with the people of God.

God’s Reign

Christian faith is, in part, a matter of hoping. We believe in and trust the Lord of the future, and we lean into the future that God has promised. God goes before us, beckoning us into the new world that is already being created, calling us to join in the challenging work of fashioning it.

However, when we’re confronted with personal disasters or with the daily horror stories of society’s ills, we may falter. Hope may seem to be unrealistic, naive optimism.

Yet our hope is not in trends. Our hope is in the Lord of all creation and all history — a God who is still in charge and is actively at work transforming the world.

“Imagine if every church became a place where everyone is safe, but no one is comfortable. Imagine if every church became a place where we told one another the truth. We might just create sanctuary.”

Rachel Held Evans, Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church

Who We Are

The People of Union Grove

Can you believe it? The People of Union Grove are just like you. Our members come from a variety of backgrounds and careers, and come from all over – literally. They love God and doing things in and for others, especially the least among us, and they’d love to have you join them in-person or through their online activities.

Our Pastor: Rev. Val Ohle

Our Pastor: Rev. Val Ohle


Rev. Ohle comes to Union Grove from Bethel UMC in Seymour where she served from July 7, 2019, through June 30, 2020. Union Grove is her second pastoral appointment. Rev. Ohle is a Licensed Local Pastor and not only a “cradle Methodist” but … if her family tree is accurate … a 4th or 5th generation Methodist. Rev. Ohle is currently enrolled in Course of Study and has retired from private sector work. Although she hails from the High Plains, she and her family have lived in South Knoxville for over 30 years. Rev. Ohle is married with three adult children, four grandchildren (two are adults), and three great-grandchildren.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is Methodism?

Methodism began as an 18th-century movement founded by John Wesley that sought to reform the Church of England from within. The movement, however, became separate from its parent body and developed into an autonomous church.  The movement got its name because of the habits of John Wesley, his brother Charles and a group of other earnest students who were dedicated to frequent attendance at Holy Communion, serious study of the Bible, and regular visitations to the filthy Oxford prisons. The members of this group, which Wesley came to lead, were known as Methodists because of their “methodical” devotion and study.

They were particularly concerned about inviting people to experience God’s grace and to grow in their knowledge and love of God through disciplined Christian living. They placed primary emphasis on Christian living, on putting faith and love into action. This emphasis on what Wesley referred to as “practical divinity” has continued to be a hallmark of United Methodism today.

The distinctive shape of our theological heritage can be seen not only in this emphasis on Christian living but also in Wesley’s distinctive understanding of God’s saving grace. Although Wesley shared with many other Christians a belief in salvation by grace, he combined them in a powerful way to create distinctive emphases for living the full Christian life.

Our United Methodist heritage is rooted in a deep and profound understanding of God’s grace. This incredible grace flows from God’s great love for us. Did you have to memorize John 3:16 in Sunday school when you were a child? There was a good reason. This one verse summarizes the gospel: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” The ability to call to mind God’s love and God’s gift of Jesus Christ is a rich resource for theology and faith.”

For more in-depth information on Methodism, visit’s “Our Wesleyan Heritage” page.

Where can I learn more about Methodists?

The best place to learn is by meeting with our Pastor, but you can also learn a great deal by visiting, where you’ll find numerous informative articles and FAQs on the United Methodist Church.  Additionally, you can visit, where you can learn more about our conference.

Where do I park and enter the church?

We have plenty of parking spaces as you come up to the church. We enter worship services through the main doors on the front of the Sanctuary. The front entrance includes a wheel chair ramp. 

Can you accommodate people with disabilities?

Absolutely! Just let us know what your needs are and, if they’re not presently available, we will work to fill them as quickly as possible. We do not have headphone access in the pews for hearing impaired, but if you let our sound man know, he will work with you to make sure you can hear the service.  Likewise, if you need a bible, hymnal or other materials in braille, please contact our pastor and we will work to acquire these for you.

What if I can’t make it to church every week?

No problem! We live-cast all worship services on our Facebook page. After the service has concluded, we store copies of the video on Vimeo, here on our website, and occasionally on TikTok. You can worship from anywhere in the world and, if you can’t make the live-stream, you can worship by viewing the videos “on-demand.”

When is it okay to visit?

Our worship service starts at 11:00 every Sunday. While we do not have Sunday school classes (see “Virtual Study Groups” for more information), we typically fellowship after worship, often sharing pastries or other treats, and our pastor would be happy to meet with you personally at your convenience to answer any questions you may have. If you need to visit at any other time, just contact our pastor and she will arrange to meet you.

How often may I visit and what should I wear?

You can visit as often as you like and are able. Membership in the church is not an attendance requirement.  Likewise, there is no dress code at Union Grove.  You’ll find we wear everything from jeans and cowboy boots to “Sunday clothes” to t-shirts and shorts.  Wear clothing that makes you comfortable. Come as your authentic self! Your presence is more important to us than your outfit.

What happens during Sunday Service?

Sunday services at Union Grove are modified traditional.  Music includes traditional hymns and occasionally special music.  We incorporate elemnts such as a call to worship, Passing the Peace, time for hearing the joys and concerns of the congregation uplifted with prayers and praises, tithes and offerings, scripture readings, and a message. Communion is offered at all in-person worship services.  We close our service with a hymn and a benediction.

What about receiving communion?

Communion is offered at all in-person worship services (online worshippers are encouraged to have bread and juice on hand in order to participate from home).  You do not have to be a member of our church, a Methodist, or a member of any church to receive communion. The Lord’s table is open to all. If you are worshipping with us online and would like to share in communion, please mimick the pastor’s movements as she blesses the elements. 

At what point am I required to become a member?

There is no requirement that you become a member of our church.  If, however, you feel you are ready to become a member, the first step is to talk with our Pastor who will explain the process to you and make the appropriate arrangements.

What happens if I decide to become a member?

The first step is to meet with our Pastor, who will visit with you about joining, what being a member means, and determine what steps need to be taken:

  • If you have never been baptized, you will prepare for baptism.
  • If you were baptized as an infant or young child and have not made a profession of faith and been confirmed, then you will prepare to reaffirm your baptism when you take the membership vows.
  • If you are a member of another part of the church (such as Baptist, Presbyterian or Lutheran), then you can transfer your membership from that church to a local United Methodist Church.
  • If you are a member of another Christian church that does not transfer membership, you can make a profession of faith and be received as a member.

Do I have to sing, bring my own bible, or give an offering?

Psalm 98:4 says, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.”

If you’re not comfortable with singing, though, you’re not required to sing during communal hymns.

We have New Revised Standard Version bibles in the hymnal racks in every pew for those who need or want one during service.

Although God loves a cheerful giver and a way of showing your thanks and gratitude to God, tithes and offerings are not a requirement.  Give what you can, when you can, if you can.