Over the years, the McJohnston Chapel of the McCutchanville
Community Church has gone through renovations and additions. Church
members laid the first brick of the building on April 12, 1880, and
Sunday, members will celebrate the chapel's 125th anniversary.
Paul Swope and his
wife, Marilyn Sue, of Evansville, were married in the chapel in
August, 1950, and their reception was the first in one of the
chapel's building additions, called the "'50s building."
"I remember it wasn't
completely done," Swope said as he looked around the room. "It was
bare concrete floor."
Swope's family has
been attending the church for years, back at least to his
great-great grandfather. Today, he still remembers where his class
met for Sunday school and singing in the choir as a child.
"There's a lot of old
history here," he said. "It's pretty awe-inspiring that we've been
able to preserve it that long. When you think back that you're one
in a long history, it's kind of humbling."
McJohnston Chapel was
made possible by Amelia McJohnston Atcheson and her sister,
Wilhelmina McJohnston Moffett. Atcheson died in 1878, and in her
will she left $500 to be used to build a new church. Moffett then
matched the sum, which started the movement to build what now stands
as McJohnston Chapel.
just more than seven months. In December 1880, the first marriage
was held in the chapel. Frances Gabatus McJohnston married William
Erskine, uniting descendants of two pioneer families.
In September 1941,
the church members decided to renovate the building. Some of the
"wants" were new art-glass windows, new pews, complete redecoration
of the walls and woodwork, a new furnace and flue, a pipe organ and
more parking. The cost was estimated at $4,500 to $5,000. Everything
was installed except new windows. It was discovered that the
original windows were rare etched glass imported from France, and
couldn't be duplicated. Many of them are still in the chapel today.
The chapel's most
recent renovations were completed this year, including new carpeting
When the congregation
outgrew the chapel over the past few years, the church decided to
build a new sanctuary, which was completed early this year. The new
building, formally dedicated in May, is on Petersburg Road across
the street from the chapel, which is now used for special events and
weddings. The church also changed its name in January 2002, when
McCutchanville United Methodist Church and St. James United
Methodist Church merged. The church maintains ties with the United
Methodist Church, even though "Methodist" isn't in its official name
Community Church Pastor Robert Vester said the congregation hopes
the church will exist for another 125 years, and invites the
community to come and celebrate the first 125 years with the
"It's still in good
shape," he said of the chapel. "I think of the long line of pastors
who stood in that pulpit. That's a lot of sermons preached. It's
neat to be part of that continuing story."
McJohnston Chapel 125th anniversary celebration.
Who: McCutchanville Community Church, 9505
When: 10:30 a.m. Sunday
Information: Call 867-5735.