In 1866, many Methodists in and around the Rural Retreat area began meeting as a Sunday School class in the Oak Grove School. They were known as the Mount Airy class. Mount Airy was the original name of Rural Retreat. All denominations would meet at this school.

In the fall of 1874, the church was first organized as part of the Marion Circuit by Bishop G. W. Miles. The Mount Airy class would first meet in the Lutheran Church and then later move to a cabinet maker’s shop until 1879. This building was eventually made into a Masonic Hall.

In 1897, the Mount Airy Circuit was divided into the Cedar Springs and Rural Retreat Circuits. At this time, the church built a new building. It was a one-room structure consisting of one aisle and crude wooden seats. As the church grew, this building was torn down, and in 1902, the second church was built on the same site, just 100 feet northeast of our present location. Eventually, this building was outgrown and sold. Today, there is a dwelling on this site.

The current church building, located at 503 Church Street, was dedicated in 1916. There have been 49 pastors since the first pastor, J.H. Keith, in 1874. In 1941, the church installed a new 16-rank M.P. Moller pipe organ, which underwent a major rebuild in 2012. In June of 1996, the church approved the purchase of the adjacent property, called the Epworth House, for youth activities, Sunday School classes, etc. In 2015, the church completed a new addition that provides a Fellowship Hall, Sunday School classrooms, and bathrooms.

Over the years, Rural Retreat United Methodist Church has been committed to evangelism, a commitment that continues to this day. It provides numerous outreach/mission programs in the community and throughout the world. As of 2016, Rural Retreat United Methodist Church had 319 church members.