150th celebration

Morris Chapel United Methodist Church (UMC) in Walkertown will hold a celebration in honor of their 150th anniversary during a special service at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 21 followed by a covered dish meal.
Pastor Jeff Coppley said that although he has only been at Morris Chapel UMC for about three months, he is excited to celebrate the church’s anniversary.
“One hundred fifty years is a perfectly good run for a church,” he said, as he talked about how the church was born out of a brush arbor.
Coppley added that Fred Jordan, a retired United Methodist Church pastor who previously served at Morris Chapel UMC, will be speaking during the special service on Saturday.
“We’ve been working on doing this and looking at ways we can thank the community,” he said. “A lot of people in the community have had a connection with Morris Chapel over the years.”
Coppley said they are thinking of doing 150 acts of service in the community later on in the year.
“We want to do something in the present to prepare for the future. We have a food pantry, backpack program and missions, but we want to expand on those projects in the community,” he shared. “We want to be seen as making the community better.”
Coppley added that this Saturday, they want the community and surrounding areas to see that Morris Chapel UMC is a vital part of the community.
“We would love for our community to come out and celebrate and hear about what we plan to do for the future,” he said.
Harvey Dillon, co-chair for the 150th anniversary celebration along with Elaine Whicker, said he put together a booklet for the anniversary showing the church’s history from when it started under a brush arbor in 1869 to present.
“As a part of our 150th anniversary, it was my job to pull together our history from over the years and we’ve bound it together,” he said, noting that he found a lot of the history from various sources, including information from the late Jewell Stewart and the late Mary S. Swaim’s history, which she compiled in 1984.
According to the history Dillon found on Morris Chapel UMC, the church’s roots go back to the prayer meetings held in the home of Isaac and Jane Morris in the 1860s. The home was located on Hwy. 66 between Martin Street and Darrow Road. As more people became interested in the meetings, they came together to build a brush arbor located near what is the present site of the church’s cemetery.
Dillon noted that there will be another event on October 9 at 6 p.m. under a brush arbor they built specifically for the 150th anniversary with Rev. Dan Martin speaking during the service.
As the history states, in 1869 following the building of the brush arbor, a prayer group was organized and assumed the name Morris Chapel after its founders. Trustees were elected and plans were made to build a church building, though the deed was not officially recorded until 1873. The first building for Morris Chapel UMC was a one-room frame building covered by hand riven boards and kerosene lanterns provided lighting.
The first person buried at the church was a grandchild of the founders. Two acres were later donated and used as the site of the parsonage and cemetery plots.
A second church building was erected in 1886 for the 106 members of the church. It had three large swinging lamps with large shades attached to the ceiling to increase the lighting of wall lamps with reflectors. There were also two large wood stoves that provided heat for the building.
The church history stated that during that time, a pipe organ was donated by Amos Hulls. It also stated that at one time, area churches shared one pastor. Those churches included Morris Chapel, Antioch, Pisgah, Mt. Pleasant and Elm Grove. Morris Chapel held its one worship service on the third Sunday of each month for many years.
In 1900, the church’s membership increased to 117 and plans were made two years later for a frame parsonage to be built. It was completed in 1903 with Rev. C.F. Castevens as the first pastor to live there. Two more rooms were added on in 1912.
In May 1916, 13 women came together to organize the Ladies Aid Society, which was organized into the Women’s Society of Christian Service on September 13, 1940. In 1919, plans were made to remodel the church and build a vestibule and three Sunday school rooms. The structure was brick veneer and the roof was slate shingles. A coal furnace was installed and the Ladies Aid Society raised their dues from five cents to 10 cents and bought a Delco light system.
In 1926, six Sunday school rooms and a meeting room were built with funds received from the P.B. Campbell estate, and in 1930 a brick parsonage was built on Darrow Road.
Morris Chapel UMC became part of the Western NC Conference of the United Methodist Church in 1939.
In 1952, the educational building was added at the cost of $16,000, which was a two-story annex of classrooms. The fellowship hall was built in 1958 with a dedication on June 1, 1961. It was moved to its present-day location in the early 1990s.
In 1967, an electric organ was purchased under the leadership of Kate Morris.
In 1964, when George Martin died, he willed $1,000 to begin a building fund for a new sanctuary; however, it wasn’t until 1974 that a drive for pledges for a new church was initiated. Construction for a new sanctuary began on September 5, 1977. The first service was held on December 10, 1978. The new building included air conditioning, a sanctuary with a seating capacity of 280 with provisions for 100 more in an over-flow glass partitioned room at the rear of the sanctuary, a choir section and two massive stained-glass windows in the octagon-shaped sanctuary. There were also 17 classrooms, one choir room, a conference room with an efficiency kitchen, a pastor’s study and church office.
Currently, there is a chapel used as a classroom, which resembles the sanctuary of the former church. The stained-glass windows, the altar rail and altar furniture were lifted from the old church.
In the early 1990s, a long-range planning committee was formed to look into the possibility of adding more classrooms for the children’s department and a large fellowship hall/family life center, and a covered drive-thru. In 2002, a building committee was formed to look into the cost of renovating the sanctuary to increase seating capacity due to expected growth of the Walkertown area.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Sunday, January 14, 2007. The building project consisted of adding seven classrooms – two for children, one for youth and four for adults, centralized offices for senior pastor, associate pastor and administrative assistant, fixed stage and sound booth, three new storage rooms, family and handicap friendly restroom, youth office and storage room, music and instrument storage room, and the relocation of the crib nursery to its current location.
More recently, the church created another long range committee in 2012 to survey their Sunday school classes and future needs, creating impact projects, which included improved seating in the family life center, new busses, renovation of the children’s ministry classrooms and new playground, audio visual enhancements for the sanctuary and family life center, renovation of the conference room with kitchenette, new door for the family life kitchen to the hospitality room, a lighting technology upgrade and a new roof.
The church is located at 2715 Darrow Road in Walkertown. For more information, call 336-595-8101 or visit www.morrischapel.org.

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