History of Martha's Chapel

Chapel Hill in history

Historical photo of Martha's Chapel United Methodist Church in Cunningham, TN

The following are excerpts from Church History compiled by Mrs. John L Edmondson, 1962

Established in 1869

Martha's Chapel Methodist Church was organized in 1869, during the pastorate of the Reverend John Reynolds. The land on which the original church was located was donated by Mr. Jesse Bumpus. The church was completed in 1872 and dedicated the same year by Bishop W. M. Wightman.  
Martha's Chapel was named in honor of Miss Martha Mills, who made the largest donation toward its construction and who took the initiative in the organization of the church. She and the Reverend Lewis Lowe, a local Methodist preacher, were united in holy matrimony at the site of the building, the day that the corner stone was laid.  
The first trustees were J. A. Gholson, 8. H. Harris, Daniel Mills, T. G. Hargrove, A. B. Pruitt and G. Milam.  

Historical Moments 

The first wedding in the original church building was that of Miss Susie Brame and Mr. Robert M. Mills, who have celebrated their Golden Wedding and are still active members.  
As the church grew in interest and membership the need for a more modern building was realized in 1950. Mr. Herbert C. Hargrove donated the land for the new building, which is located not far from the original site. The building committee was composed of Messrs. Percy Morgan, John M. Matthews, N. E. Freeman, A. C. Jones, and M. S. Chadwick.  During construction Sunday services were held at Central High School.  Through the untiring efforts of the committee and the cooperation of the members, the building was completed and the first service was held May 28, 1950.  
At the first service eighty members were present. The Reverend A. W. Delk was pastor at that date. The church was dedicated January 11, 1953, by Bishop Roy H. Short of Nashville, Tennessee.  
The first wedding in the new church was that of Miss Frances Hargrove and Mr. John H. Coke on June 23, 1950, and the first funeral was that of her grandmother, Mrs. Lewis R. Harris on April 24, 1951.

Sunday School

From the beginning the church was mindful of its duty toward the instruction of the children and the opportunities for molding Christian character. The Sunday School program has been a vital part of the church down through the years. Although at times, in the early history, the attendance was small, it was due to bad weather and lack of transportation, not from lack of interest.

Youth Ministry

Records show that in 1931, when the Reverend J. W. Swan was pastor, an Epworth League for the entire charge was organized. The church has its own active Methodist Youth Fellowship and Young Adult Organizations. 
In 1954 the Young Adults began supporting a native missionary in Africa and this project continued for several years. Recently they have adopted an orphan in Korea and send contributions each month for its support. Before the M.Y.F. came into being the youth was organized into a Missionary Society. The meetings were held in the homes on Saturday evenings during the winter months and were followed by a social hour.

Vacation Bible School  

In the summer, the programs were given on Sunday afternoons. A Vacation Bible School is held each year and has been a project of the church since 1938. Prior to that date each year one Sunday was set aside as Children's Day.

Women's Society of Christian Service

The church has no greater asset than the Woman's Society of Christian Service, formally known as the Missionary Society. The society at Martha's Chapel was organized approximately fifty-five years ago by Mrs. Edgar Orgain, who served as the first president. The officers were installed by Mrs. Jack Crouch of Clarksville, Tennessee. Among the charter members were Mrs. Eunice Mills, Mrs. Jim Bumpus, Mrs. Henry Grant, Miss Jennie Matthews, Miss Mollie Hargrove, and Mrs. J. F. Chadwick.  
After a few years the society disbanded but was later reorganized. Now a more devoted and loyal group would be difficult to find, than the twenty- two members that compose the present society. The meetings are well attended and the programs are most effectively rendered. One cannot attend the meetings without being benefitted, uplifted and inspired.  
All phases of the work as outlined by the Tennessee Conference are carried on under the leadership of Mrs. A. C. Jones, who has been president for four years. Mrs. William Ussery has been elected President for the ensuing year. The church that Mrs. Martha Lowe loved so devotedly continues to grow under the ministry of the Reverend Felix Snell.  
The future of Martha's chapel has never been brighter than it is today with its scores of children and young people who love God and their church. They are making great contributions in promoting the work of His Kingdom. To them we will say, "Onward, Christian Soldiers"