Houses of Worship

Whitley Memorial is a family with a common goal

pseligson@newsobserver.comMarch 14, 2014 

Whitley Memorial United Methodist Church is on Wilson’s Mills Road.


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Whitley Memorial United Methodist Church in Smithfield started in the 1950s as a Sunday school for Centenary United Methodist, eventually branching off into its own church.

“It’s an older congregation filled with people who just love one another and just really care for one another,” said the Rev. Dave Adams, pastor. “We’re a family ... that shares the common goal of serving Christ in whatever way we can in our community.”

In 2007, the church caught fire and lost its sanctuary. No one was hurt, and since then, the church has rebuilt.

Address: 300 Wilson’s Mills Road, Smithfield.

Affiliation: United Methodist Church.

Contact information: 919-989-8605.

Size: about 40 worshipers at a Sunday service; more than 100 members total.

Pastor: The Rev. Dave Adams, 57, joined Whitley Memorial on April 22, 2007, the day the church’s sanctuary burned. He’s lived in Smithfield for more than 20 years but hails from Rockledge, Fla. Adams graduated from Gordon-Cornwell Theological Seminary in Charlotte in 2011. Before that, he served in leadership roles at Centenary United Methodist Church and in the N.C. Conference of the United Methodist Church. Adams is also resident chaplain at Rex Hospital in Raleigh.

Before becoming a pastor, Adams was in the insurance business for 28 years. He and his wife, Barbara, a Smithfield native, have three adult children – two daughters and a son. Katie is a mother of four who lives in Georgia. Cydne is a rehabilitation counselor in Raleigh. Ben is an assistant director of admissions at Duke University.

What sets the church apart? The pastor: “This is the warmest, most caring church I have ever been a part of. We are small enough that everybody can call you by your name and large enough to make an impact on the community around us. The members of this church genuinely care for one another and look out for one another.

“In our worship services, we attempt to mix the old with the new so that we can reach people in such a way that they feel connected to the service. Every Sunday we begin our time of worship with a YouTube worship video to expose members to current worship music they might not otherwise hear, and then we might sing an old standard hymn that members have known their entire life. It is not out of the ordinary to use video clips from movies for the sake of sermon illustrations.”

What is the church’s message? The message of our church is that everyone has a role to play in God’s kingdom on earth. Everyone has a calling. Whether it is to teach, volunteer, work in health care, create things with your own hands, farm or whatever else it might be, regardless of age or ability, God can use everyone to further his kingdom on earth and to share the love of Christ with others.

Special programs: A club for neighborhood boys and girls ages 6-12 meets from 6 to 9 p.m. every Friday. Sages, made up of seniors from several churches, has lunch at noon on the second Tuesday of every month. The church also has a community garden and summer Bible study for women.

Worship service: 11 a.m. Sunday.

Last Sunday’s sermon: “What Part of No Don’t We Understand?” Just as God stood with Jesus in the wilderness when he was tempted by Satan, God stands in the shadows keeping watch over us as we struggle with daily temptations. With the assurance of God’s forgiveness and his presence in our lives, we can confront with boldness the struggles and dangers of our lives in confidence and in hope.

Seligson: 919-836-5768

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