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History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – August 2019

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny Cordell
“John Henniger, Builder of Churches”

August 2019

     In 1817 Circuit Rider John Henniger was assigned to the Sequatchie Valley where he served present day Chapel Hill community that was the northern end of Marion County which was also created in 1817.  Before 1807 the Sequatchie Valley was part of Roane County until Bledsoe County was formed that year with Brush Creek as its southern boundary.  The lands south of Brush Creek was generally regarded as the Indians Lands of the Cherokee and were protected by Federal Troops until 1817 when the Cherokee were pressured to cede their lands with the Jackson-McMinn Treaty.  It was against this backdrop that the Reverend John Henniger was assigned his charge.

     John Henniger was born in Virginia in 1784.  He joined the Western Conference in 1807.  He served charges in Mississippi, Ohio, and Kentucky as well as Tennessee, where he was very popular.  John Henniger was a member of the western, Tennessee, and Holston Conferences without transferring, serving each as it was carved out of the former.  He did his most important work as presiding elder.  In this capacity, he served French Broad, Knoxville, and the Washington Districts.  He was presiding elder of the Washington District from 1830-1834 and again in 1835-1937, where he finished his faithful and brilliant career.  He died December 23, 1838.  His loyal wife had died six days earlier on December 17th.

     The Washington District covered Sequatchie Valley; hence John Henniger was well known and beloved there.  He lived for a few years near Pikeville.   Four of his daughters were married there.  Five of his grandchildren resided in Bledsoe County and one granddaughter lived in Chattanooga.

     The wife of John Henniger was formerly Jane Anderson of Virginia, aunt of Louise Anderson Kirklin.  The Kirklins resided in the house currently occupied by Lynn and Katherine Allen.  Mrs. Kirklin was the daughter of John Anderson, Jr. (who was a brother of Jane Anderson) and Elizabeth McNair Anderson of Bledsoe County, where Mrs. Kirklin was born September 8, 1806.  She was the first child of European descent born in the Sequatchie Valley.  Jane’s brother was Col. Josiah Anderson, a member of Congress; and two of Jane’s great nieces were married to circuit riders, John Alley and Mitchell Swaim.  John Alley was the longest serving minister of Henniger’s Chapel and Chapel Hill until that record was broken by Tom Tucker in 2018. 

     In 1852, the Kirklins donated land for a new church.  Adding to the popularity of John Henniger, these blood ties helped to determine the name of the church fourteen years after his death.

Compilers note:  During my research, I found 4 different spellings of this individual.  Mary Thomas Peacock  “The Circuit Ride and Those  Who Followed” list him as Henninger.  Edna Susong Jackson “Chapel Hill” list him as Henniger, which is the spelling I utilized in this article.  The history of Beth-Car Methodist Church list him in 1814 as John Hennigar, known as “builder of churches”.  However John Henniger is interred in Fort Hill Cemetery in Cleveland, Tennessee where the family name is listed as Henegar.


Next month’s question:  Who is the longest serving pianist/organist in Chapel Hill history?



Annual Conference 2019 Highlights


In her “State of the Church” report, Bishop Dindy Taylor read Paul’s letter in 1 Corinthians 12 about unity and diversity in the church: “The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church”.  She said she had attended meetings in which both progressives and traditionalists felt “deeply hurt” because they believed “the United Methodist Church no longer wanted them to be part of it”.  Despite disagreements between members, the church can still work together to love people, Taylor said.  “That’s Christ’s body.  That’s who we are.  We must never forget that, because God is counting on us”.

In the Lay Leader’s Report, Del Holley said Holston Conference has two paths:  one is a path filled with worry, hand-wringing, and asking ‘What is the future of the church?’” Holley said, “We must avoid that path at all costs for God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of self-control.”  Instead, he challenged members to “choose the path of devotion, recommit yourself to sharing the good news of God’s love and claim the power of the Holy Spirit that the Kingdom of God may come upon the earth”.

A $9.1 million budget for 2020 was approved.  This is less than the $9.25 million approved for 2019.

The Hands-on Mission Project was valued at $220,131 with all districts exceeding their goals with total 9,042 kits.  Scenic South (home buckets) goal was 400.  Actual received was 1,375.  Change for Children received $61,990.  The Addiction Ministry offering was $129,733.  This will be distributed in grants for new and existing ministries addressing addiction.

Tim Hilton, addiction and recovery expert, shared his personal story of substance abuse, while explaining brain chemisty during addiction and the nature of the disease.  His presentation prepared church members for ministry to help individuals and families struggling with addiction.  Stephannie Strutner, executive director of ASAP of Anderson, said more than five people die of an opioid overdose every day in Holston Conference.  Faith communities are needed to work with other sectors in addressing the epidemic in multiple ways, she said.

The Rev. Betty Furches shared a moving tribute to Hiwassee College, which closed its doors May 10 after 170 years.  The presidents of Emory & Henry College and Tennessee Wesleyan College asked for a “moment of silence” in recognition of Hiwassee College.

There were 33 clergy honored at the Retirement Recognition.

The Service of Ordination, Commissioning, Recognition and Sending Forth featured 5 ordained elders, 8 provisional elders and 1 associate member.

Delegates to the General Conference and to the Jurisdictional Conference were elected to represent Holston.

More details and reports may be found at


June Haman, Lay Member

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – July 2019

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny Cordell
2019 July, Part 2

Civil War came to this area in full force in the summer of 1863 when the Union Army invaded the Sequatchie Valley.  This area was utilized as a campground by troops under the command of General Crittenden.  They cooked with fires built on the rock slabs that covered the early graves.  They removed the planks from the church and transported them to Bridgeport to construct barracks.  The remaining log church was burned by accident or on purpose, and the structure smoldered for over a week.  After the defeat of the Union Army at Chickamauga, General Rosecrams was bottled up at Chattanooga where the federal troops were literally starving on a sustenance of one small piece of bread and one ounce of pork a day.  The only supply route was East Valley Road and Anderson Pike which ran by this church.  On October 2nd, Confederate General Joseph Wheeler sweeping down from the northeast on a cavalry raid surprised a union supply train stretching over ten miles, hence this area became the scene of the largest military raid of the Civil War.  A skirmish took place here around this cemetery site, and the soldiers who were killed are buried in this cemetery.  The citizens of this area endured unimaginable hardships as armies of both sides plundered and ravaged the countryside taking all animals and food.  Most of the people survived on a cake like mixture of cornmeal and sorghum.

In 1864 a young girl was praying in her family’s apple orchard when she was converted by the spirit.  When word of this experience spread throughout the community, a great revival broke out, and when it surpass the capacity of the house of Josiah Rogers, the meeting was moved to Liberty Union Presbyterian Church.  It lasted for three weeks resulting in over 200 conversions.  Although several years passed, this event led to the rebuilding of this church in 1884 under the leadership of Holston Conference Rev. Absolom Deakins Stewart.  Since that time approximately 54 ministers have served this church now known as Chapel Hill.  Chapel Hill was on a circuit with Dunlap and Welch Chapel until 1954 when Dunlap became a station.  In 1968 Chapel Hill became a station.

The vestibule was added in 1930’s.  For several years a non-denominational Sunday School was held at the Center Point School building and then they attended church services at Chapel Hill.  However, due to an official ruling that the school house could not be utilized for religious purposes, Chapel Hill agreed to build Sunday School rooms and move Sunday School services to this building with the understanding that the Sunday School would continue to be non-denominational.  This understanding has been adhered to and is still in effect.  In February 1983 a steeple was erected.  In 1984 additional Sunday School rooms and a fellowship hall was added.  And now 167 years later Chapel Hill Church is embarking on a new vision with construction of a family life center and future sanctuary and fellowship hall on the drawing board.  If our ancestors of 1852 and 1884 had not stepped out on faith, I obviously would not be here today in this church.  But, I am here today and our circuit riders heritage and mission are still intact.  Psalms 145:4 states that “One generation shall praise thy works to another and shall declare thy mighty acts.”  One hundred years from now, what will our descendants say or write about us concerning our faith, determination and perseverance?

References: Chapel Hill by Edna Susong Jackson and committee
                    Sequatchie by Leonard Raulston & James Livingood     
                    Military Records & Articles
                    Oral Histories

Last month’s question:  What military training does our current Pastor Jared Wood have?  Jared graduated from Virginia Military Institute (VMI).  Notable alumni of VMI are General George Marshall (WWII and later Secretary of State and Defense), General George Patton (famed tank commander WWII), and Marine Corps General Lewis “Chesty” Puller (Most decorated Marine in history)

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – June 2019

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny Cordell
“Brief History of Chapel UMC”
Part 1   June 2019

The history of Chapel Hill cannot be conveyed in five minutes or five hours.  The history of Chapel Hill is not necessarily about a building.  It is about people and events.  It is a story of courage, hardship, separation, faith, grace, sin, and absolution.  It is a love story.  A love story among its people and their creator.  Before any church was built on this site in 1852, Methodism was prevalent in this community for at least 25 years.  The Methodist Circuit riders were fervently preaching the gospel and constantly facing the dangers of man and nature.  In the earliest days Indians were a possible threat along with attacks from wild animals and the ravages of winter.  Circuit riders would sometimes find themselves frozen to their saddles at the end of their destination.  For some circuit riders, the average life span was less than seven years.

Although this area was still Indian land, white settlers were constantly encroaching upon their land.  The Cherokee in this area had sizable holdings with houses, barns, and rented land to the whites or employed sharecroppers.  This ended in 1817 when the Cherokee were pressured to cede this area with the Jackson-McMinn Treaty thus creating the new County of Marion.  The Jasper circuit assigned circuit riders to minister this area.  One of the most important religious and social events was the annual camp meeting.  Since young people had difficulty meeting future marriage prospects that were not close relatives, this annual meeting provided opportunities for young couples to meet and court.  There were camp meetings that lasted several days and led to many future marriages.  My research indicates, but not definitely proven, that the Methodist campground known as “Richland” was located at a spring presently located near the farm of Tommy and Martha Austin or approximately ½ of a mile south of present-day East Valley Baptist Church.

One of the most prominent area circuit riders was John Henniger and in 1852 the first church was erected on this site was called Henniger’s Chapel.  Allen Kirkland donated the land and Norman Mansfield and his son constructed the building.  The first pastor was the Rev. R.N. Price and a great revival was conducted here in 1853.  Large family connections such as Kirklin, Deakins, Stewart, Barker and Anderson were brought almost entirely into the church to join other families such as the Rogers, Johnson, Thurman, Hatfield, and others.  These family connections eventually produced seven ordained ministers, and indirectly from the Stewart Family, one United States Senator.  The first community Sunday School was led by William Rogers who was the first individual to be buried in the cemetery in 1849.  (Headstone replaced in 2018)

In 1855, a plan was devised to create a third county in the valley, aptly named Sequatchie, by taking part of Marion and Bledsoe Counties.  However, the Tennessee Constitution stated that “no part of a county shall be taken off to form a new county or a part thereof, without the consent of a majority of the qualified voters in such part taken off.”  Affected Bledsonians did not agree with the proposal.  At this point Neill Brown, Speaker of the House of Representatives and later Governor of Tennessee, discovered an interesting loophole in the constitutional requirements.  The Constitution made no reference prohibiting taking parts of counties and attaching to existing counties.  Brown enlisted the help of an influential legislator to enact such a plan with the understanding that the new county seat would be named after him.  William Dunlap agreed to this proposal, and on February 25, 1856. A law was enacted attaching the 1st and 2nd civil districts of Marion County and the 10th civil district of Bledsoe County to Hamilton County.  On December 9, 1857, the Tennessee Legislature passed an act creating Sequatchie County by detaching the three aforementioned civil districts from Hamilton County.   Bledsoe County was vehemently opposed and took the matter before the state Supreme Court to disallow the creation of Sequatchie County.  The Civil War interrupted and delayed for many years a hearing on the matter.  After the war the court basically refused to hear the case due to a statute of limitations.  It would seem that Bledsoe County was the victim of a classical “Catch 22”.  This might explain, over the succeeding years, the rivalry between the two counties, especially the athletic teams.  This also explains how the church was located in three different counties from1852 through 1857.

(Part two continued in next article)

Sources and questions available in July article

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – May 2019

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny Cordell
“Veterans Among Us”
May 2019

     This article is dedicated to Veterans Memorial Day.  I was born in 1947, a baby boomer.  “Baby Boomers”, for the most part, were a product of the World War II veterans that had returned home after the war, or anyone born after 1945.   So, it wasn’t until I was almost five years old that I began to comprehend somewhat about war.  I would overhear my Daddy and his friends talking about a place called Korea, and if it was mentioned at the dinner table, my momma would start nervously fingering the ends of her well-worn apron.  It wasn’t until later years that I learned that her nephew had persuaded his mother into signing his enlistment papers, but she wasn’t truthful about his age.  He was not 17 but 15, and at the age 16, was in the thick of combat in Korea.  In the succeeding years and in adult life, I began to realize that many or most of my neighbors, relatives, and church members were WWI, WWII, or Korean veterans.

     The following is a sample list of veterans.  Some are local, others are listed from information provided by USMC Chaplin Denis O’Brien.  I will not list names since I don’t have permission from individuals or families to do so. 

  • One of my church members, who in the trench warfare of WWI, ripped off his black uniform buttons because he thought they were illuminating his position at night.  He came home shell-shocked but received no counseling, and dealt with it the rest of his life as best he could.  Today it is known as PTSD.  (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).  In America we lose 22 veterans a day to suicide.
  • Twenty-five years ago it was the aggravatingly slow old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket who in WWII had helped liberate a Nazi death camp and now wishes his wife was still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.
  • He is another church member who falsified his age and went to WWII at the age of fourteen.  My research indicates that he was the youngest Tennessee Veteran of that war.
  • Sixty seven years ago it was a teenage high school dropout who subsequently began to have problems with law enforcement officials.  By the age of seventeen, he was in court with the judge offering him a choice of jail or military service.  His momma signed his papers and was sent to Korea where his overgrown juvenile behavior was outweighed a hundred times on the cosmic scale by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th
  • He is a best friend and neighbor who in high school was not a star athlete or a member of the academic honor court.  Yet, in the misty steamy terrain of the A Shau Valley, this reluctant hero invoked the scripture of John 15:13 by willing to lay down his life for his friends, thus receiving our nation’s 3rd highest award.  He would become Sequatchie County High School’s highest decorated Vietnam Veteran.
  • She is the surgical nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in DaNang.
  • He is a Tennessee Nation Guardsman who spent 10 months in Saudia Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the M-1 tanks didn’t run out of fuel.
  • Or an IED disposal expert in Afghanistan who several years ago was disposing of running backs as a linebacker on the high school football team.

These are just a few of the “Veterans among us”.  Some volunteered, many were drafted, but did their duty anyway in the service of their country.  These veterans are ordinary and yet extraordinary human beings, individuals who offered some of their life’s most vital years and sacrificed their ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.  So remember, each time you see someone who has served our country, just lean over and say “Thank you”.  That’s all most people need, and in most cases it will mean more than medals.  Two little words mean a lot. 


Last Month’s Question:  Where did Francis Ashbury do most of his reading and rehearsing of his sermons?  In the saddle of his horse

Next Month’s question:  What military training does our current Pastor Jared Wood have?

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – April 2019

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny Cordell
April 2019

     Cartwright was considerably older than Abraham Lincoln but in the 1850’s, Peter continued on the fringes of politics, backing Senator Steven Douglas in the election of 1858 in which Douglas prevailed.  But Cartwright’s attitude toward Mr. Lincoln mellowed with age, in 1862, Cartwright visited New York where he spoke before a dinner of New Yorkers unfriendly to the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln: “Once we were opposing candidates for a seat in Congress, and measured up in the ballot-box, I went down in defeat.  But it was defeat by a gentleman and a patriot.  I stand here tonight to commend to you the Christian character, sterling integrity, and far-seeing sagacity of the President of the United States, whose official acts you have, your blind money-madness, so critically assailed tonight.  I am confident he is the man to meet and go forward in this crisis to lead his countrymen amid and through the terrible strife in which we are now engaged.  He is a cool-headed, God fearing, and unselfish love of his country, and knows from the top to the bottom the life and spirit of men both North and South.  When you go from here to your homes tonight, I want you to bear with you the assurance of his neighbor and once political opponent that the country will be safe in his hands.  I wish to have you understand that back of him will stand an unflinching host of Western men, who have no financial ghosts that terrify them and who are destined to rescue this nation from the perils now before us.  We have got the men who have got the right-kind of grit in them out West.  Why stand ye here idle?  My God send patriotic light into your stingy souls.”
     Peter Cartwright’s style of preaching is characterized by William Henry Milburn, a fellow Methodist circuit rider who saw him frequently and claimed him as a friend.  Milburn gives this description of Cartwright’s preaching:  “  A voice which, in his prime, was capable of almost every modulation, the earnest force of homely directness of his speech, and his power over the passions of the human heart, made him an orator to win and command the suffrages and sympathies of a western audience, and ever through the discourse, came, and went, and came and went, a humor that was resistless, now broadening the features into a merry smile, and then softening the heart until tears stood in the eyes of all.  His figures and illustrations were often grand, sometimes fantastical.  Like all natives of a new country, he spoke much in metaphors, and his were borrowed from the magnificent realm in which he lived.  All forms of nature, save those of sounding seas, were familiar to him.  You might hear in a single discourse, the thunder tread of a frightened herd of buffalo as they rushed wildly across the prairie, the crash of a window as it fell smitten by the breath of the tempest, the piercing scream of the wild cat as it scared the midnight forest, the majestic Mississippi as it harmonized the distant East and West.  Thunder and lightning, fire and flood, seemed to be old acquaintances, and he spoke of them with the assured confidence of friendship.  Another of his attributes was the impulse and power to create his own language; and he was best lexicon of western words, phrases, and proverbs, that I have ever met.”

       Peter died at 87, leaving behind an autobiography which has become a classic as much for the exploits it recounts as for the pictures of frontier life.  Cartwright summarizes his life stating “That with all the losses and crosses, labors, and sufferings peculiar to the life of a Methodist traveling preacher, I would take the same track over and over again with the same religion to bear me up rather than be the President of the United States.  I ask your prayers that you remember an old man who has spent life in the service of the church, and I would do it again.”


*Compiler’s Note:  At the completion of this article, I realize that today’s Methodist of settled denominations may not approve of the methods of Peter Cartwright.  However, he possessed the needed qualities to survive the harsh and dangerous world of the American frontier.  The Reverend Cartwright possessed three things: (1) a Bible (2) a horse (3) a gun…and he knew how to use all three.  During his ministry, he baptized 10,000 converts and preached almost 15,000 sermons.

Sources:  (1) Dan Graves, MSL “Colorful Peter Cartwright, Circuit Rider” (2) Rev. Alfred Day, (3) Robert Bray, Illinois Wesleyan University “Beating the Devil: Life and Art in Peter Cartwright’s Autobiography” (4) Leewin Williams and Kenneth Alley:  “The Encyclopedia of Wit, Humor, and Wisdom” (5) The Gilder Lehrman Institute “Mr. Lincoln and Friends”

Question: What pastor instituted the first Christmas Communion at Chapel Hill?  Tom Tucker

Next Month’s Question:  Where did Francis Asbury do most of his readings and rehearsing of his sermons?


History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – March 2019

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny Cordell
(continued from last month)

March 2019

This encounter with General Jackson would lean one to believe that Preacher Cartwright and General Jackson did not know each other, however in 1814 Cartwright was reportedly a Chaplin in the War of 1812, and present at the Battle of New Orleans.  Before entering the battle, General Jackson called his Chaplin’s together and exhorted them “to preach to the soldiers of the cause and assure them, if they die in battle, they would go straight to heaven.”  Cartwright replied, “General, I can’t quite go that far, but I can say I believe our cause is of God, and that any of them should be killed, God in that last account would give any of them credit for their sacrifices.”  Apparently in the 1818 church encounter, Jackson and Cartwright already knew one another, and imposing their little joke on the “city preacher” and his credulous congregation.

Rowdies often interrupted Peter’s meetings.  When one thug promised to whip him, Peter invited the man to step into the woods with him.  The two started for trees.  Leaping over a fence at the edge of the campground, Peter landed painfully and clutched his side.  The bully shouted that the preacher was going for a dagger and ran away.  Once, on a ferry boat, Cartwright overheard someone denounced him as a “Methodist horse thief” by a man who promised him a good liking should they ever meet.  “Come” said the preacher, making himself known, “I am the man you propose to trash.  Either whip me as you threaten, or quit cursing me, or else I will put you in the river and baptize you in the name of the devil.”  The sinner quailed, and became converted to Methodism under the grip of the compelling Cartwright.

Such events gave him a name.  A story spread that he even confronted legendary river boatman Mike Fink.  Cartwright claims this encounter never happened, but stories kept cropping up in newspapers and books from Georgia, to New York, to Illinois State Journal.  According to the article, Fink appears with his gang and attempts to disrupt one of Cartwright’s meetings in Alton, Illinois.  Cartwright soon grows tired of the rowdies and descends the pulpit in order to “make the devil pray.”  He quickly fells the riverman with a “prodigious punch of his herculean fist,” then pins him by the windpipe until Fink agrees to repeat the Lord’s Prayer after Cartwright, line by line.  Thereafter, the rowdies behave with “exemplary decorum” throughout the remainder of the meeting.  The story was repeated by James B. Finley, another gifted and famous Methodist circuit rider.

Peter Cartwright tells the story of two fashionably dressed sisters that attended one of his meetings in 1804.  Their brothers, who didn’t attend the meeting, but stayed outside, saw their sisters get the jerks.  This greatly disturbed them, and they determined to horse whip Cartwright outside the church.  They said they had seen him take something out of his pocket and give to their sisters and that’s why they got the jerks.  What they didn’t know was Peter Cartwright often carried a tin of peppermints in his pocket and would put one in his mouth before he spoke.  Peter, trying to diffuse the situation, answered them directly.  “I need not deny it,” he said, “Yes, I gave them the jerks and I can give them to you.”  Fear struck the brothers and they ran away yelling at him not to follow them or they would kill him.

Cartwright also demonstrates his humor when he relates a story of a woman in one of his parishes who often annoyed him by going off on a high key.  One day in class meeting, with her soul in ecstatic emotions, she rapturously cried out, “If I had one more feather in the wing of my soul, I would fly away and be with my savior.”  “Stick in the other feather, Lord” interjected Cartwright, “and let her go!”

(To be continued next month)

Sources: Dan Graves, MSL “Colorful Peter Cartwright, Circuit Rider”
                Robert Bray, Illinois Wesleyan University “Beating the Devil: Life and Art in Peter Cartwright’s Autobiography”
                Leewin Williams and Kenneth Alley: “The Encyclopedia of Wit, Humor and Wisdom”


2018 Mission Report

Mission Report for 2018


We added CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children) to our mission project list for the first time this year. On January 14th Margie Clemmer spoke about the work of CASA and we collected $702.

Daniel Sukowski talked on February 11th about his upcoming mission trip with Campus Outreach to New Zealand and we collected $3,589 over several Sundays for his trip.

We continue to help the Ark Singers with their church, orphanage, and building fund in Ukraine. The Ark singers visited on March 4th and presented a concert and a visual update of their ministry. Our four quarterly collections this year and the love offering totaled $5,900.

On April 29th Pam Kiper spoke to our congregation about Feed My Starving Children, a non-profit Christian organization dedicated to feeding starving children around the world in body, mind and soul. We collected $906. Our church had 35-40 volunteers participating in packing meals at Ewtonville Baptist church on November 2nd and 3rd.

Our Hands-on Mission Project in May, coordinated by Dawn Jones, was to make up home buckets for Zimbabwe. We sent 26 buckets valued at $28 each including shipping – $728.

Delanie Sukowski spoke on May 21st about her upcoming training and gospel sharing experience in the Smokey Mountains this summer with Campus Outreach and we collected $1,103 to help with her expenses.

On June 3rd we collected for the Bishop’s Special Collection $293 (children from South Sudan in refugee camps in Uganda) and Change for Children $293 (needy children from the Holston conference)

The Gideons visited Chapel Hill on June 24th and $590 was given to their ministry.

Our July project was school supplies for Sequatchie County students to support the “Give a Kid a Chance” event coordinated by a group of local agencies. We collected $176 and 85 packs of notebook paper – we sent 300 packs of paper for the event.

Boo and Phylis Hankins, former missionaries from the Houston Conference to South Sudan, spoke at the morning service on Sunday August 26th and we collected $734 for South Sudan.

Many people at our church support the Next Step Resource Center (formerly the Women’s Care Center) by attending their annual banquet in March, sending in personal donations, or participating in the “Walk for Life” in September. Our church had 25-30 youth and adults on the walk.  Debbie Chandler, Director of the center spoke on August 19th at our morning service and $150 was collected.

September 30th brought us a guest speaker for the Hands of Christ, a medical mission in Honduras, run by John and Dr Ana Lamon. Sarah Hathaway gave us an update on the Women’s Clinic that is being built and showed pictures of the work done by the many medical teams that help serve the poor of Honduras. We collected $520.

On Sunday October 21st we collected $2,350 and on Sunday October 26th we collected $365 for UMCOR to help with relief after Hurricane Michael.

Our Local Food Bank, run by the Sequatchie County Fellowship of Churches, was our mission focus for November. Denise Kell came to our morning worship service on November 18th to give us an update on the program and we collected $257 to help fund the continuing work of the food bank. Our church also donated 496 pounds of food this year.

Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes for Samaritan’s Purse – Thanks to the efforts of Ethel Powell, Lynna Griffith and the K-5 group of children, 20 shoe boxes were packed. The value of this donation is $500

The mission project in December involved providing Christmas gifts for 26 local needy children. Dawn Jones passed out names and collected the gifts. This was the largest number of children we have helped.

We continued our support of the Holston Home with $3,475 collected from 5th Sunday offerings and Sunday School Funds.

The Benevolence Fund is a special fund administered by our pastor to help families and individuals with emergencies. This past year $2,812 was dispersed.



Each year we hold a craft and bake sale at the October Men’s Barbecue to raise funds to finance mission activities.  We dispersed mission funds to be recognized as a Holston Conference Five-Star Mission Church. To be eligible, a church has to pay its fair share in full, which Chapel Hill pays from general church funds, and:

  1. Give to at least one International Advance (we sent Maria Humbane in Zimbabwe $150 and Helen Roberts-Evans in Liberia $150)
  2. Give to at least one U.S. Advance (we sent the Appalachian Service Project $150)
  3. Give to at least one UMCOR Advance (we sent $500 to UMCOR Disaster Response in U.S. to help after hurricanes Florence and Michael)
  4. Give to at least one Conference Advance (we sent Fred and Libby Dearing in South Sudan $500, Camp Lookout $150 and the Bethlehem Center $150)

The total for our Five-Star giving was $1,750.

We were also able to send $1000 to the Hands of Christ and $250 to Feed My Starving Children from our craft/bake sale funds. A total of $3000 has been dispersed from our craft/bake sale mission funds this year!

Thanks to the generosity of everyone at Chapel Hill our mission outreach for 2018 was approximately $28,443 and many volunteer hours of service. This dollar total does not include individual contributions to the Next Step Resource Center, food donations to the food bank or the cost of Christmas gifts for needy children.


History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – February 2019

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny Cordell
“The Lords Plowman”
February 2019

          During my time reading and researching Methodist circuit riders, one of the most colorful preachers was Peter Cartwright.  He was physically imposing, his face wrinkled and tough, his eyes small and twinkling, and his hair looks as if he had poked it into a bag of kilkenny cats, and had not had time to comb it.  He rode circuits in Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, in a ministry that spans over fifty years.  Born in Virginia in 1785, just two years after the ending of the Revolution War, he was taken west to Kentucky.  There he became a tough guy in rough Logan County known as “Rogue’s Harbor” because of its swarms of badmen.  His Methodist mother pleaded and prayed for him.  Her prayers won.  In a camp meeting, sixteen-year old Peter was convicted of his sinfulness and need for a savior.  For hours he cried out to God for forgiveness until finally the peace of Christ flooded his soul.  At once he joined the Methodist Episcopal Church.  Within two years he was a traveling preacher, bringing the gospel to the backwoods of the new nation.  His rough past and hardy constitution served him well, for he faced floods, thieves, hunger and disease, meeting every challenge head on. 

          Crowds flocked to hear him.  Peter preached to host of men and women, three hours at a stretch, several times a week.  Women wept and strong men trembled.  Thousands came to Christ in meetings that sometimes ran day and night, adding them to the church.  He urged new converts to build meeting houses.  To meet a desperate need for preachers, he championed the creation of Methodist colleges.  Wherever he went he left behind religious books and tracts to convert and strengthen souls.  The joy of soul winning compensated him for all his hardships.  Hardships were many, several times Peter went days without food.  Once he returned from his circuit with just six borrowed cents in his pocket.  His father had to re-outfit him with clothes, saddle, and horse before he could ride again.  Traveling preachers were paid thirty to fifty dollars a year.  Nonetheless, Peter married and raised children.  Once when his family was forced to camp in the open one night, they were startled awake when a tree snapped in two.  Peter flung up his arms to deflect the falling timber, but unfortunately it crushed his youngest daughter to death.  In 1823 Peter sold his Kentucky farm.  He feared his daughters would marry slave owners.  Slavery, he felt, sapped independence of spirit, his family readily agreed to the change, and his bishop appointed him to a circuit in Illinois.  In Illinois, Peter braved floods, where once he had to chase his saddle bags which were swept downstream.   In every circumstance, the Lord brought him to safety.  In Illinois he ran for a seat in state legislative against Abraham Lincoln, beating him, but later Lincoln beat him in a race for U.S. Congress.

             Cartwright, unlike the preachers of settled denominations, possessed the needed qualities to survive the harsh and dangerous world of American frontier wilderness.  The circuit rider had to fight and preach, oftentimes dealing with ruffians, rowdies, and disrupters who attended their meetings.

             Once Peter, warned General Andrew Jackson that he would be condemned to Hell just as quickly as any man if he did not repent.  Another preacher apologized for Peter’s bluntness.  Jackson retorted that Christ’s ministers ought to love everyone and fear no mortal man, adding that he wished he had a few thousand officers like Peter.  (to be continued next month)


  1. Dan Graves, MSL “Colorful Peter Cartwright, Circuit Rider”
  2. Alfred Day



History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – January 2019

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny Cordell
January 2019

I am writing the January article on December 7th which many of our older church members will remember as a day in “infamy”, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, eighteen days before Christmas.  One of our former deceased members, Commander Henry Hollingsworth, was probably the last surviving naval officer of that battle, however, there are a few Pearl Harbor enlisted personnel still living.  Many may not know that the Commander had requested that his remains be interred amongst the Civil War Soldiers buried at Chapel Hill Cemetery.  That request was granted.

By the time this article is published, Christmas 2018 will be over and 2019 will begin another year of potential resolutions.  The reason that I have mentioned Christmas is that many of our veterans since the birth of our nation have been absent from their families during this time.  From Valley Forge to Afghanistan, the home sickness and memories of family, community, and church  are basically the same for the many generations of veterans that have answered the call of duty.  I know that in my case, one of the comforting factors was my faith, remembrances, and loving affinity for the people of a small chapel sitting atop a countryside hill.  I suspect that many of our veterans within our congregation today can identify with this observation regardless of the church they attended.  In retrospect, I realize that some of my fellow comrades did not have these particular reflections in their life experiences, and thus had a more difficult time. 

Christmas of 1958 was a very difficult time for my family.  At the age of eleven and mid-December, our family home was totally consumed by fire including all contents.  It occurred at night and we were fortunate to have survived without any loss of life.  It was an old two story farm house which included hand split wooden shingles for a roof, providing perfect material for a gigantic bonfire.  When my Daddy realized what was happening, he yelled for everyone to “get out of the house.”  When we went outside, the second story was totally involved turning nighttime into daytime.  Years later momma told me what she did that night which we laughed about for years.  With the house fully engulfed, she ran back into the living room of the house and turned down the damper on the furnace.

As a young Marine in a foreign country during Christmas, I contemplated and treasured the memories of a church that responded to our unfortunate circumstances.  Our church family provided shelter for a few days until we could move in with another church member Elizabeth Johnson.  She was one of the older members of the church who was a widower living in a house with plenty of room for six people.  She was actually a cousin by marriage, but she insisted we call her “Aunt Elizabeth” which we did.  Aunt Elizabeth drove a “T-Model Ford” and I rode to church with her on many occasions.  The old house is gone now, but church member Janet Johnson currently lives in a home that replaced the old farmhouse.  Due to the generosity of the church and neighbors, we were able to rebuild within a matter of months.  I can’t name all the individuals who helped my family in our time of need, but I vividly remember the next day at school my teacher and church member Edna Jackson took me to Wade Swanger’s store and bought me a set of clothes.  The only clothes that I had at the time were the ones that I had on when I ran out of the house the night before.  That made quite an impression on me, and I have been blessed to “pay it forward” many times since. 

I can relate many similar stories, but space does not make that possible.  Many have passed on with their mortal remains being reverently entombed beneath a garden of stones adjacent to the old historical chapel, forever reminding me of these dear saints of a faithful and generous heart.  Recently departed President George H.W. Bush talked about “a thousand points of light”.   I can say today that unequivocally Chapel Hill Church is definitely one of those points of light; may it continue to be so.

Last month’s question:  What are the two oldest Methodist Churches in present day Bledsoe County?  Pikeville United Methodist church and Wesley Chapel (today the church is non-denominational and Ronnie Colvard is the current pastor)

Next month’s question:  What pastor instituted the first Christmas Communion at Chapel Hill?