History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Chapel Hill 1950’s
I don’t remember the first time I ever attended Chapel Hill Church. I don’t remember the first sermon, but I suspect it was the Reverend Carmack Morris about 1951. I do remember the short tenure of Pastor Virgil Hale (1952-1953), but I don’t remember any physical characteristics. The first preacher that I distinctly remember was Jacob (Jake) Ramsey (1954-58). He was a tall, dark haired, angular individual who had a commanding presence in the pulpit. This bearing, poise, and confidence could have been affected to some degree by his Navy service in World War II. His wife and partner, Evangeline, was outgoing, attractive, and extremely intelligent. “Vangie” as she was called, had a talent, among many, for literacy composition, and I was told had a great influence in her husband’s sermons. Their daughter, Phyllis was in my Sunday School Class although I was about four years older. Ms. Louise Johnson was our teacher and Phyllis had her own distinct personality and could be a hand full at times. I suppose this would bode well for her in the future since she followed in her father’s footsteps and became a minister in her own right.
One of the humorous episodes that I remembered involved one of Pastor Ramsey’s sons during the middle of his sermon. I believe it was his oldest son, Scott, who was not behaving in the proper manner within the congregation. Brother Jake, departed the pulpit, took Scott outside the church, administered a spanking, returned the repentant offspring to his pew seat, and without hesitation, strode back to the pulpit, continuing his sermon, not missing a beat or a word. All this in full view of everyone. This certainly had an effect on me and other children who might have had similar notions.
During this time Chapel Hill was on a circuit with Welch Chapel and the minister would rotate each Sunday between the two churches. If Chapel Hill had a morning service, then the minister would conduct an evening service at Welch Chapel. The next Sunday this process would reverse. A typical Sunday morning would be Sunday School at 10:00, however the members would gather first in the sanctuary, sing one song, followed by brief remarks from the Sunday School Superintendent, and then dismissed to respective Sunday School Class. Sunday School would last about thirty-five minutes and then reconvene in the sanctuary, sing a song, and
dismiss about 10:50, with church service commencing at 11:00. On the Sunday that there was no church service, many of the members would remain at the church after Sunday School and socialize. My Daddy, who enjoyed good conversation, would stay as long as there was someone to talk with, which could last as long as an hour. Sometimes I would get impatient and walk home. If there was no one to converse with at church, Daddy would stop at Wade Swanger’s store where there was always a group of men regaling each other with stories and sometimes outright fabrications. We usually returned home around 12:30 as Momma would have dinner ready. (To be continued next month)
Last month’s question: After the close of the Civil War, the oldest minister in the conference was appointed
to manage the reorganization of Southern Methodist Churches from Ashville, NC to Chattanooga, TN. He
went further and spent time in reorganizing the Methodist in his own community of Henniger’s Chapel/Chapel Hill. Who was this venerable and iconic minister? Rev. Absolom Deakins Stewart.
Next month’s question: How many times has the original Chapel Hill cemetery been enlarged?