Our Heritage: Celebrating 132 Years of  Service to the Gray, TN  Community

William Chamberlain Hale

On May 5, 1887, a deed was executed by William Chamberlain Hale, giving one acre of land to the trustees of the Christian Church at Buffalo Ridge.  Those trustees were Charles Fox, Jacob Bacon, and Samuel Gray.  Mr. Hale had a mill where the lumber for the church building was cut from timber donated by other members of the congregation.  Mr. Hale was also a carpenter and with the help of other members, he built the church.  The church was named after William Chamberlain Hale, who died in 1892.  In the early years, Sunday School was held every Sunday and a preaching service was held the second Sunday of each month.

The tools above are some of those used

by William C. Hale to build the Chapel.

The heritage of Christ's congregation in Gray, Tennessee, can be traced directly to the people who have so richly and freely given of their lives.  Christ lives in us as a church only because He lives in us as individual Christians.  This pattern exemplifies the history of Hales Chapel Christian Church.  The underlying theme of all past and present members of the congregation has been like that of the Apostle Paul when he declared "I no longer live, but Christ lives within me."  From the earliest recorded documents of our local congregation, we find devoted men and women seeking to serve and witness to others of Christ.

The Christian churches in Tennessee came about from the influence and work of Barton W. Stone.  Stone and his co-workers espoused the need for the restoration of the New Testament Church.  This Restoration Movement resulted in the establishment of several Christian Churches being organized in East Tennessee in the early 1800's.

A group of these restoration believers started meeting in the Buffalo Ridge Meeting House next to the Buffalo Ridge Cemetery.  The Baptists decided not to let anyone other than Baptists use their meetinghouse, so this group of believers met at the store belonging to John Leab.

A revival meeting was held at the store that added to the believers who were gathering there.  This meeting took place sometime in early 1886.  On April 5, 1886, a group of men signed a note for the purpose of building a house of worship to be known as the Christian Church at Buffalo Ridge.

The early building was a single room sanctuary.  The roof was of wood shingles and the floor was oak tongue and groove planks about four inches wide.  There were tall, double-sashed windows with four panes of glass in each one.  Two cast iron stoves provided heat for the winter.  Kerosene lamps at each window provided lighting for the church.  A pump organ accompanied the hymns.

From these humble beginnings, Hales Chapel Christian Church has grown throughout the years, both in size of facility and in numbers.

In 1913, additional land was purchased from Mrs. Minnie Gresham, and in the 1930's, more land was obtained from Clyde Fitch.

In 1951, the building was renovated.  Ed Hayes became the first full-time minister in 1951.  Water was put to the church in 1953, and restrooms were installed in 1954.  A parsonage was completed and the first Minister, Clyde Wheeler moved into it in September 1957.  In 1964, an addition was made to the parsonage that included two bedrooms, a bathroom, and closet space.  The parking lot, and road behind the parsonage were paved in 1967.  A new organ was purchased in 1968.

The earliest attendance records began in 1921, with sixty-five (65) in attendance for Sunday School and morning worship attendance in 1922 was ninety-two (92).  Easter Sunday, April 1954, in attendance was one hundred twenty-five (125).  An average in 1962 was one hundred thirty-four (134).  With attendance steadily growing, a building fund was started in 1968.  It was proposed and adopted that a larger building equipped for learning, comfort, and growth be made.  The new structure was built parallel and joined together to the older structure with matching facade.  This new facility (still in use today) would seat four hundred and included a full basement containing eleven classrooms and two nursery rooms.  The first service was held in this facility on July 6, 1980.  All attendance records were broken on that day with three hundred eleven (311) in the worship service.

Hales Chapel continued to grow throughout the years until this new larger building was still not enough.  With no room to expand at the present location, it was decided to purchase property to build an even larger facility in the community.

Some members wanted to remain at the present location, so in February 2001, a Leadership Team was formed to find a new Minister to continue services at Hales  Chapel.  James D. Saunders was called to minister.

On November 4, 2001, Hales Chapel met for the last time as the full congregation.  The next Sunday, November 11, 2001, services were held at Hales Chapel and at her sister church, Crossroads Christian Church.  Today, Hales Chapel continues with a membership of around 169.

Brother Jim Saunders retired from full time ministry on November 1, 2007.  His health became an issue and he passed from this life to his reward in February 2011.  Brother Clyde George  was called to become our minister and served until April 2009.  Upon his departure, Brother Lamar Garrison agreed to an interim ministry to our congregation and accepted the full time position in 2010.  Having ministered for over 52 years in full time Christian service, brother Lamar announced his retirement in May 2014 to enjoy traveling and his love for the outdoors.   Following a search for a new minister, Brother Randle K. Johnson accepted our call to serve as minister at HCCC.  Brother Randle was raised as a youth in our congregation and then furthered his Christian education and preached in Tennessee, West Virginia, & Kentucky for over 25 years.  He began his ministry at HCCC in August 2014 with his wife, Rebecca and their three children.

  Hales Chapel will celebrate its 132th Homecoming Anniversary on November  12, 2019.