CHAPEL CHURCH HISTORY
In the early 1890' s Christians in an area south of
Dyer and north of Trenton felt the need for a Methodist Church in their community. Their organizational meeting was held at
the Kimbrough School on April 22, 1894. The school was located on the dirt road between Dyer and Trenton in what is now the
Georgetown Community. They continued worshipping at the school.
On August 3, 1894, Frank and Susan
Markham and Samuel S. and Harriett Grier deeded one acre of land to the Church Trustees, T. D. Landrum, A. C. Bond, James
Hunt, M. L. Webb and J. A. Dunnagan. The land was about a mile north of the Kimbrough School on the Dyer-Trenton road. The
church was known as the Grier's Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church South and made a part of the Bradford Circuit. Rev. Joseph
B. Pearson was Pastor of the Bradford Circuit and served through 1894.
The log church was built on the
east side of the Dyer-Trenton road facing west. The eastern section of the lot behind the church served as the Church Cemetery.
There were no other roads near. Members of the Webb, Grier, Markham, Thornton, Landrum, Derry, Talley, Hunt, Bond, Dunnagan
and Mingle families composed the charter members of the church. The charter members and many others came by Certificate of
Transfer, but it is not known from which church or churches they came. By the year 1900, the church membership was over one
In 1898 Grier's Chapel was assigned to the Dyer Circuit with three other churches,
Poplar Grove, Good Hope and Hopewell. Dyer Church had left the Circuit to become a Station Church, and later bought the Circuit
Parsonage. The Circuit bought another Parsonage in Dyer on High St. in 1901.
Chapel remained at the original location until 1925. On January 12, 1925, Albert E. and Bessie Harris Markham deeded a parcel
of land just across the Dyer-Trenton road to the Church Trustees, T. J. Grier, Frank Markham, Ellis Rogers, R. N. Rogers,
A. A. Webb and Marvin Emerson. The log church was moved across the road to the lot donated by Albert and Bessie Markham. The
original site of the church building was then available on which to expand the already established Grier's Chapel Church Cemetery.
As the log church was moved to its new site, the length of the building was placed
in a north-south location. Two Sunday School rooms, a vestibule and front porch were added to the east side, thus making the
building face the Dyer-Trenton road. A section was added to the west side for a choir, pulpit, and altar rail. The church
bell was moved to this new site. It was rung early on Sunday mornings and tolled when there was to be a funeral.
Upon entering the church, a large stove was on the right side near the front of the pews for heating
in cold weather. In hot weather, the windows were raised and people used hand fans furnished to churches by local Funeral
Homes. Some of the ladies brought their own hand fans. For revival or any night services, the church was lighted with lanterns
hanging from the ceiling. They were pulled down to fill with coal-oil, hand pumped with air to make the light brighter, then
pushed back up. After and hour or more, the lights became dim and had to be air pumped again.
the mid 1920's a highway was built between Dyer and Trenton and opened in 1927. This was about two-tenths mile west of the
church and later a dirt road was built from the new highway to the church. At some time this road was extended eastward to
join with other roads built later.
In 1922 Rev. J. M. Kendall organized a Women's
Missionary Society. Mrs. Myrtle Craig was the first President, Mrs. Effie Markham the second, and Mrs. Lala Puckett was the
third President. About 1949 a Wesleyan Service Guild was organized for the younger working women. This group met at night,
while the Women's Missionary Society met during the day. At a later time both groups became United Methodist Women.
Worship services were held at Grier's Chapel on first Sundays at 11 :00 A.M. and on third Sunday afternoons
at 2:00 P.M. Poplar Grove's services were first Sunday afternoon at 2:00 and third Sunday at 11 :00 A.M. Good Hope had morning
worship on second Sundays and afternoon worship on fourth Sundays while Hopewell had worship services fourth Sunday mornings
and second Sunday afternoons.
Due to an increase in membership in the early 1930's,
there was a need for further expansion. Under the leadership of Mr. Raymond Batchelor, the
men of the church dug a basement under about one-fourth of the church on the south side. When the project was completed it
was used as a Sunday School class room for the young men and activities room for the youth. There was an outside entrance
to stairs that led down to this room.
A chimney was built from the basement up so there
could be a heating stove in the basement room. At this time the heating stove in the sanctuary was moved from the front of
the pews on the north side to the new chimney on the south side.
In 1939 a uniting conference formed
The Methodist Church from a combination of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Protestant Church, and the Methodist
Episcopal Church South. There had been a long and determined effort to join all of these groups into one church and it was
finally accomplished. Our name then became Grier's Chapel Methodist Church. Doctrines of the Methodist Church are based on
the specific teachings of John Wesley.
In the middle to late 1930's an Epworth League,
a Youth Organization of the Methodist Church, was organized. The purpose was to help young people deepen their faith and build
Christian character. This organization was very important to the many young people in the church. It met on Sunday nights
and later was called Methodist Youth Fellowship (MYF).
At the beginning of the 1940' s
things were changing in the world and in the church. World War II was going on and many young men in the church were drafted
into some branch of service to our country. Some food items were rationed. Gas was rationed which made it difficult for those
who did have cars. Many families did not have cars. Church seemed to be a place of comfort in the troubled times. Many young
people walked from every direction to attend MYF. The attendance was sometimes between thirty and forty. Mr. Raymond and Mrs.
Ruby Batchelor were MYF counselors. Mr. Batchelor had built an enclosed trailer with window openings and a back door opening.
There were bench" seats on each side. He pulled this trailer behind his car and picked up people along the highway from
Trenton to the church. Many depended on this ride to church. It was called 'The Bus'. It was a cold ride in the winter, but
better and faster than walking. He brought the bus on Sunday mornings, for MYF and during the revival.
1939. the old Parsonage was torn down and a new one build by men from the four churches. Rev. J. C. Gilbert was pastor at
that time and the new Parsonage was build to accommodate his family of six children. It included a living room, dining room,
kitchen, guest bedroom, study, master bedroom and a bathroom. Upstairs was a bedroom on the front for the three girls and
one at the back for the three boys. There was a nice front porch and a back porch across the back of the house and a basement.
Many pastors enjoyed living there.
People 'in the church looked forward to the revival.
It was an important and exciting time. Ladies planned meals for dinner and at night for the pastor, his family and the visiting
Evangelist. Large crowds attended and it lasted all week. The Evangelist stayed in the guest room at the Parsonage. The morning
services started at 10:30 and the night services at 7 or 7:30. Revival week took priority in the life of the church. The Pastor
and Evangelist visited in homes. Young people and older ones also, made a profession of faith, were baptized and joined the
church. From about the late 1930's to late 1940's, a blind singer, Arthur Barber, came from Memphis to lead singing at our
revival if scheduling worked out. Someone in Memphis would put him on the bus and the Pastor would meet him when the bus arrived
in Dyer. He also stayed at the Parsonage. He played an accordion and was a delight to everyone. He learned his way around
in the church and knew exactly where to go. What a blessing to be around him. He visited and ate in the homes with the Pastor
and Evangelist. He was called Bro. Barber. The four churches on the Dyer Circuit had separate revivals, so that meant the
guest room at the parsonage would be occupied for four weeks by different Evangelists. The pastor and wife had four busy weeks
during the summer revivals.
Down through the years, Grier's Chapel has had many
praying people, but the spirit-filled prayers led by Mrs. Annie Bond just seemed to raise the people to a higher ground. Many
years later, the humble prayers led by Mrs. Peggy Spellings could warm the hearts of any congregation. What a blessing! Both
of these dear ladies have gone on to be with the Lord.
When Grier's Chapel was organized,
the church must have been blessed with qualified leadership. It is not known who the first leaders were, but Mr. Ed Markham
was the first known Sunday School Superintendent He served many years and was followed by Mr. Allie A. Webb, who also served
many years. There have been many others to serve in that position down through the years. Mr. Allie A. Webb was the first
known song leader, also serving many years. He was followed by Mr. Raymond Blackburn, continuing a lengthy service. Next was
Mr. Kenneth McEwen, the present day song leader who also brings special music each Sunday. He sings with a Quartet. Mrs. Jettie
Mae Rogers Manuel was the first known pianist. She began as a young girl and served in that position until well into her senior
years. Christine McEwen was always available to serve as pianist when she was needed and filled that position in later years.
A young man, Stan George, later became the pianist while Christine McEwen played the organ. At a later time, Stan's Mother,
Martha Jewell George Buckingham, became the pianist while Christine continued at the organ. Grier's Chapel is so blessed to
have had all these talented people contribute so much to the music program. There have been many dedicated Sunday School teachers
through the years.
In the early years, the church pews were slatted in the seat
and the back. There were straight chairs in the choir. On April 10, 1946, Grier's Chapel purchased new pews from Budde &
Weis Manufacturing Co. in Jackson for $938.74 The erecting fee was $110.00. These pews are enjoyed by the present congregation.
Pads were added several years later.
In 1950 the Dyer Circuit was assigned to the Dyersburg
District. At this time there was another need for expansion. A basement was dug under the remaining part of the building making
the entire basement available for Sunday School rooms and a kitchen. The Sunday School room on the north side of the church
entrance was made into a hall with a closet and steps leading into the basement. The outside entrance to the original basement
room was removed.
In the early 1950's a gas furnace and two gas heaters were installed
in the sanctuary. Gas heaters were put in the basement. The big propane gas tank was in the side yard. (In the 1980' s a natural
gas line was installed along the road by the church. Then the switch was made to natural gas). Two large window fans were
installed in the sanctuary, one on the north side and the other on the south side. Several years later a central heating and
cooling system was installed in the sanctuary.
Later the Sunday School rooms on
both sides of the entrance were extended out to the side of the church. This made a larger room for the older ladies' class
on the south side. The extension on the north side was made into two bathrooms which opened into the hall leading to the sanctuary.
The Hopewell Church closed in November 1963. In December 1963, Grier's Chapel made
the decision to take Hopewell's financial responsibility and their worship schedule, thus making Grier's Chapel half time.
Grier's would add worship services on fourth Sunday mornings and second Sunday nights. (At that time the afternoon services
had changed to night services). Poplar Grove and Good Hope would each continue with one-fourth time. That was the beginning
of Grier's Chapel having a worship service every Sunday. Instead of Dyer Circuit, the charge was then called Grier's Chapel,
Poplar Grove and Good Hope. The Harrison family at the Hopewell Church had placed a new Communion Table in their church in
memory of their Mother, Mrs. Minnie Harrison. Realizing Hopewell would be closing, they then gave the Communion Table to Grier's
Chapel. What a great gift. Their only request was that the metal name plate on the table not be removed. That table is still
enjoyed by the congregation at Grier's Chapel.
About the same time period, a new
pulpit was built and presented to Grier's Chapel by Harold (Red) Bond, a former member who proudly calls Grier's Chapel his
home church. Harold had many close relatives who were faithful members at Grier's Chapel down through the years.
In 1968 a Plan of Union was proposed
to bring together the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church. The two churches share a common historical
and spiritual heritage. They might have been one church from the beginning had it not been for a language barrier. The Methodist
were working among English speaking people and the Evangelical and United Brethren among German speaking people. The language
barrier is gone and the time came to join. All became The United Methodist Church. Our name is now Grier's Chapel United Methodist
In the early 1970's the church sanctuary was renovated. Eleven families purchased
stained glass windows to be installed in memory of their loved ones passed on, or to honor members of their family. Hanging
light fixtures were installed. The choir section was rearranged to make room for an organ. A new alter rail was built. Glass
doors were installed at the entrance. Painting and other things were done to make the nice sanctuary enjoyed by the present
In 1982 things were changing again. Good Hope was assigned as an Extended Ministry
of the Dyer First United Methodist Church. Grier's Chapel and Poplar Grove became a 2-point charge, and
were known as Grier's Chapel-Poplar Grove.
Homecoming was held at Grier's Chapel on the first
Sunday in May during the years 1983 thru 1986. In 1983 Harold (Red) Bond, a former member, was the speaker. The following
year, Rev. Shelby Thompson, a former Pastor, filled the pulpit. The third Homecoming service was led by Rev. Jerry Truett,
who grew up in Grier's Chapel and later became a Pastor in the Assembly of God. The last Homecoming service was held by Rev.
Shelby Thompson. Many former members attended the service during the four years of Homecomings. Great fellowship and good
food were enjoyed by all. These services were special in the life of Grier's Chapel.
1991 brought on more changes. Due to the Memphis Conference dropping from eight to seven Districts, all of Gibson county was
assigned to the Brownsville District. Grier's Chapel was now back to the Brownsville District where the church was at the
time of organization in 1894. At that time the District Superintendent, Rev. Dossie Wheatley, organized a Gibson County Cluster,
with Cluster meetings scheduled for fifth Sunday evenings at different Methodist churches in the county. Since Poplar Grove
had a large Fellowship Hall, two Cluster events were held there with Grier's Chapel co-hosting. At the organizational meeting
of the Cluster, Sylvia Markham at Grier's Chapel was elected Secretary and Treasurer and served in that position for eleven
years. Rev. Russell Doss, the Pastor at Grier's Chapel and Poplar Grove, was one of the most supportive Pastors of the Cluster.
When the Cluster decided to purchase a much needed truck for Reelfoot Rural Ministries, Rev. Doss made arrangements for the
purchase and even had enough faith in the Cluster to sign the note at the Memphis Conference Federal Credit Union. Christine
McEwen and Kenneth McEwen participated in some of the musical programs. Grier's Chapel has been well represented in the Gibson
Grier's Chapel United Methodist
Church celebrated its 100th Anniversary on August 28, 1994. Rev. Russell Doss was serving as Pastor at the time of this celebration.
Harold (Red) Bond shared memories of his growing up years at Grier's. Kenneth McEwen brought special music and Rev. Ken Burnett,
the Brownsville District Superintendent delivered the sermon. A delicious meal and great fellowship were enjoyed by all attending.
By the late 1980's many Pastors preferred to live in their own homes and not the
Parsonages. Our Parsonage in Dyer was rented at different times and required much upkeep. In 1998 Grier's Chapel and Poplar
Grove made the decision to sell. Mr. Bill Green from Dyer bought it for $40,000 and the money was divided between the two
churches to be used to maintain their church building and the grounds.
By the early 1960' s there were
over one hundred attending church at Grier's Chapel. Then by the early 1980' s there were about eighty attending regularly.
The children had grown up and many moved away. Seems that time was the beginning of a slow decline. Several young families
came into the church and soon their jobs took them elsewhere. There were fewer new members and death was claiming many of
the older ones. The decline has been constant through the ninety's and many deaths since the year two thousand, with some
in the leadership role. Our attendance in the year 2005 is between 12-17, with 14 as a good average, especially since most
of our members are older. We have tithers in the church which helps to keep our finances in order. We have one Sunday School
class. Our worship services are meaningful and include special music. We are a spirit-filled church.
the church was organized in 1894 and for many years later, Memphis Annual Conference met about the middle of November and
appointments were made at that time. That was such an inconvenience for the Pastor's children had to change schools in the
middle of the school year. For that reason and others, the Annual Conference meeting time was changed to begin the first Sunday
in June. When Conference meets this June 2005, more changes are coming. Many small churches are struggling to survive as membership
drops making financial obligations difficult to handle. There is a shortage of Pastors, some churches are closing, some two-point
charges are being split with each church being assigned to different charges. Grier's Chapel and Poplar Grove are remaining
together while Griffin's Chapel is being added to the charge. This will give financial relief to all three churches. The schedule
for worship services is changing. Grier's Chapel will have 9:30 services on first and third Sundays, while Poplar Grove will
have their worship at 11 :00 on first and third Sundays. Griffin's Chapel will have services on second and fourth Sundays
at 11 :00 A.M.
The Charge will now be known as Grier's Chapel-Poplar Grove-Griffin's Chapel. The
Griffin's Chapel church is located near Bradford. The present Pastor for Grier's Chapel-Poplar Grove is Rev. Wayne P. Holmes.
He is the first Elder these churches have had in many years. The new Pastor assigned to Grier's Chapel-Poplar Grove-Griffin's
Chapel is Rev. William Copeland.
The longest serving Pastor in the History of Grier's
Chapel was Rev. Shelby Thompson who led the congregation for eleven years. While living in the community after his retirement,
he attended Grier's Chapel Church, taught Sunday School on fifth Sundays and continued with weddings and funerals. He preached
his last sermon at Grier's Chapel on his ninetieth birthday and became ill soon after. He went to be with the Lord in October
2003 and his funeral was held at Grier's Chapel.
Rev. Daymond Duck was at Grier's
for seven years, making him the second longest serving Pastor. He lives near Grier's Chapel, but serving another charge. He
conducted Rev. Shelby Thompson's funeral at Grier's and has conducted funerals of many Grier's members. He is a blessing to
the entire community and a great spiritual leader.
The Pastor's family most remembered
down through the years was Rev. and Mrs. J. C. Gilbert and their six children, Helen, Rebecca, Lori Elizabeth, J. C. Paul
and John. Lasting friendships were made not only at Grier's, but the entire Dyer Circuit. Rebecca Gilbert May is the only
member of the family now living in this area.
As this is written on June 1, 2005, Grier's Chapel
has stood for one hundred eleven years as a Beacon of Light, Comfort and Hope to the hundreds of people who have come through
the doors to worship the Lord, accept Jesus as their Savior, enjoy the abundant life, and continue serving Him while being
in fellowship with other Christians. What a great life!
Through the years, the many people
who have been a part of the Grier's Chapel congregation, have had their own 'Precious Memories' which blessed their souls.
May God's richest blessings be with the present congregation as each continues to glorify Him and continue in service to Him.