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Looking back as Gay’s Chapel turns 175

By Terry Osborne
Gay’s Chapel United Methodist
Gay’s Chapel United Methodist Church will celebrate its 175th anniversary at 10 a.m. Sunday with a special service.
William Gay, by way of conveyance, deeded 3 acres of land to the Methodist Episcopal Church as well as those persons designated to be the Trustees of what would become Gay’s Chapel Methodist Church on January 17, 1839.
This would later be recorded in the Rowan County Register of Deeds office in February 1839.
The land was deeded with strict orders for the Trustees as well as the minister to insure that the word of God would be expounded on those desiring to be a part of our church “forever.”
After the land transfer, the congregation of Gay’s Chapel erected the first church building, which served the congregation until 1883. At that time, the original church was torn down and the second church was erected at the same location. “Brush Arbor” meetings and services along with outside ‘dinners’ were common until the new church was completed.
In 1892, some of the parishioners of the church decided they wanted to move the church to Woodleaf. Many of the members protested and a great debate developed to the extent that a ‘watchman’ had to be hired to stand guard over the Gay’s Chapel facility.
The division had seen numerous members leaving the ranks of our congregation. Needless to say, the watchman was not always on duty, and during one of those moments when he was on break the church engulfed in flames and burned to the ground.
The debate ended at that point and the Gay’s Chapel congregation remained steadfast and they once again rebuilt the church on the same property. Five years passed with the congregation again relegated to services on the church grounds under the brush arbors.
The third church on the property was erected in 1897 and the membership grew rapidly, creating the necessity to enlarge the facility by ten feet on each side.
The church expanded once again in 1935 with the addition of Sunday school rooms, as well as completion of some other cosmetic repairs to the infrastructure.
Following the centennial celebration, conversations began about the growth of the church and the need to begin discussions on erecting a new church. The discussions would continue for a decade.
Twenty-five community members, 20 of which were Gay’s Chapel members, would donate timber needed for the church construction from their own properties.
The overall project was estimated to be a $120,000 endeavor.
With the donations and labor, the church was built for $40,000. The project was completed and dedicated May 3, 1953.
Projects since the dedication of the new church have been numerous.
The most noteworthy projects recently have been the erection of the picnic shelter, the expansion of the new section of the church cemetery and the renovations of the barbecue facilities.

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