Sunday, January 28, 2007

Kerr's Chapel Baptist Church

Kerr's Chapel Baptist Church

Kerr's Chapel Baptist Church was established in 1843. Reverend John Kerr, a native of Southern Caswell County, was the namesake of Kerr's Chapel Baptist Church. In the early 1800s a division developed among the Baptists on several issues. The Southern Baptists were in favor of missions, evangelism, and education, while the Primitive Baptists were opposed to this interpretation. Reverend Kerr believed in the Southern Baptist doctrine, and in the 1830s led the establishment of the Yanceyville Baptist Church. In 1840, some of the residents of Southwestern Caswell County left the Yanceyville Baptist Church to form the Trinity Baptist Church, which was nearer their homes.

On September 9, 1843, twenty-four members from Trinity Baptist Church organized a new church known as Sycamore Grove. The original meeting house was a log room built on a mill road adjoining the farm of Mr. Peter Somers, several miles west of the present church. A new church was built in 1844 near the present location and the Stoney Creek Post Office. The name was changed to Kerr's Chapel in memory of John Kerr. The original building was a frame construction with galleries on either side. About 1892, the galleries were removed. It was furnished with new pews in 1894. This old building was torn down in 1957.

Rules of Order were adopted in 1844. Order 6 gave female members the right to vote, and Order 7 required any male member, upon missing a regular meeting, to give a proper excuse for his absence at the following meeting.

Before the Civil War, black slaves were regular members of Kerr's Chapel, some of whom are buried in the cemetery. The cemetery was enclosed with a plank fence in 1873, and then a wire fence around it in the early 1900s. In 1925, an iron fence was built. Parts of this fence remained until the 1960s. Older members told of tying the horses used for transportation to the fence.

Worship services have been held on a regular basis for 154 years at Kerr's Chapel except for the winter on 1918 and 1919. During these months a deadly Spanish influenza epidemic swept the area, and public meetings, including church services, were prohibited by law. Reverend D. W. Overby held many funerals in the church yard. Many of the dates of death on the headstones in the cemetery read 1918 or 1919.

Kerr's Chapel had worship service on the 3rd Sunday in each month. The first Sunday School at Kerr's Chapel was organized in 1864. A pastor was shared with Yanceyville, Trinity, Thompsonville, and Baynes, with the parsonage in Yanceyville. When Yanceyville Baptist began having worship service every Sunday, a parsonage was built at Baynes in 1949. Kerr's Chapel members claim Baynes Baptist Church as their Sister Church. Some of Kerr's members organized Baynes in 1912 in order to have a church nearer their community. Trinity and Thompsonville called their own pastor in 1951.

The original tract of land was given by James Kerr. Alvis Lea and Dr. Floyd Scott's family donated additional property, and the church now owns 23 acres. On May 16, 1943, Kerr's Chapel Church celebrated its 100th anniversary.

Missions were always supported, and in 1847 Kerr's Chapel began supporting Foreign Missions. The Women's Missionary Society was organized August 18, 1929, and the YWA was organized April 1939. The woman reorganized a mission group known as Baptist Young Women in 1983. The women's mission groups are currently known as Women on Missions.

A ground-breaking ceremony for the present sanctuary was held September 18, 1955. After completion, the first worship service was held in the new church on March 17, 1957, by Reverend J. R. Byerly. The sanctuary was fully carpeted. New pulpit furniture and pews were installed in 1958. The sanctuary is beautiful with stained glass windows given by families in memory of their loved ones. The old pine pews and pulpit have been refinished and some were made into bookcases and reading stands in the classrooms. A new Allen Organ was a gift in 1973, and a steeple in 1974. Kerr's Chapel shared a pastor with Baynes and had worship service on the 1st and 3rd Sundays. In 1974, the cemetery fund was changed to Kerr's Chapel Memorial Trust Fund and the interest began to be used for the upkeep of the church grounds and cemetery. IN 1976, a new parsonage was built, and a full-time pastor was called. A fellowship hall was added in 1990.

On May 16, 1993, Kerr's Chapel Church celebrated its 150th anniversary. Through recent years of growth and prosperity the church has held steadfastly to the same beliefs of traditional values, missions, and a strict interpretation of the Bible.

Today, Kerr's Chapel holds worship service every Sunday at 11:00 a.m., which is preceded by Sunday School at 9:45 a.m. Rev. Marvin Simpson serves as pastor. Mission groups are held monthly for Women on Mission (previously W.M.U.). Mission groups for children are also held bimonthly for R. A.'s Mission Friends, and G. A.'s Homecoming is observed each third Sunday in May with dinner on the grounds following the worship service.

Kerr's Chapel Baptist Church is located on Kerr's Chapel Road in Southern Caswell County (this road runs between Union Ridge Road and Highway 87). You are invited to worship at Kerr's Chapel -- Where Loving People Share Christ.

Submitted by: Tommie Stanfield, Church Clerk
(Information taken from church history written by Frances S. Scott).

Source: In the Beginning . . . The Churches of Caswell County, Jean B. Scott, Compiler (2000) at 44-45.

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