The Cottondale community is home to a number of churches representing various denominations and developed from humble beginnings. In the early 1800s, Tuscaloosa was a state seat of government, and a stagecoach road from Huntsville to Tuscaloosa brought travelers through what was then called Kennedale. In the mid-1800’s the area developed and grew, with a Cotton Mill that opened in the 1860s and the Alabama Railroad built-in 1875. People followed the jobs that were created, and soon a post office, farms, homes and churches filled the surrounding landscape. In a small building south of the railroad on the Cotton Mill property, a group of Methodist believers began meeting together in 1849, and the first pastor formally assigned to lead the growing church was Rev. R. S. Hullett in 1885.
By the early 1900s, the Methodist believers were meeting in a building north of the railroad, but that structure was struck by lightning about 1921 and burned to the ground. Rev. A. H. Andrews worked hard to rebuild the church, using free labor and whatever donations were offered. That facility was used until the church building in the present location was constructed about 1957. The previous church and parsonage were then torn down and sold.
It may be a surprise to know that for a period of time, there was a residence here in Cottondale for retired Methodist ministers. In 1906 the home was on the Cottondale Road near Cottondale School, and Rev. John Millican was the first to live there. For some time now it has been a private residence after it was purchased from the Church Conference.
Our present parsonage was built in 1963, and Rev. W. D. Prickett was the first pastor to live there. Through the years, Cottondale United Methodist Church has been blessed with great ministers – 56 recorded pastors have been assigned to us – and they have worked to fill not only the spiritual needs but also the practical needs of the church.
The worship and service facilities we now enjoy are the result of various pastors who saw a way to serve the congregation and worked to fill that need. Under the guidance of Rev. Neal Hodo, in 1975 the church began construction on the educational building. At a cost of just $33,000 and a lot of free labor provided by church members, the building was completed in November 1976 under the direction of Rev. John Collier. The Family Life Center was built under the direction of Rev. John Hassell and completed in 2008. This multi-purpose facility has been and continues to be a great resource for ministry to our church body and the community as a whole. The new coffee shop was established in 2013 under the direction of Rev. Mike Holland, who also helped establish the Manna House Food Pantry in 2014. It serves the children and their families of the Cottondale Community who may be in need of food assistance.
Beginning in 1968, we have been identified as the United Methodist Church, but originally we were a part of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and later known simply as the Methodist Church (about 1939). The ministries supported by Cottondale United Methodist Church have grown and developed with the times: worship, music, youth, women, benevolence and food pantry, website and social media, as well as missions - local and far away, always looking to show Christ’s love to the world.
Cottondale United Methodist Church indeed has a rich history of ministry and service – to our members, and to the surrounding community. While our past has brought us so very far, we look forward to continuing in service and growth for the future and for His Glory!