Our Church History
Drakes United Methodist Church had its beginning in April of 1858. The desire for a place of worship having been expressed by the people living in this area on April 20, 1858, encouraged Dr. Oscar Hamilton and Sigismunda Hamilton, his wife, gave four acres of land for the purpose of building a house of worship on it. This four acre lot on which the present church and cemetery are located was deeded to the trustees who had previously been elected by the people in the neighborhood These five trustees were: Jessie S. Norrel, A. B. Alexander, John Clayland, J. T. Smith and William A. Keys.
The trust under which the deed of the land was presented to the trustees read:
The said trustees and their successor's in office, forever in trust, shall erect and build or cause to be erected and built thereon a house or place of worship for the use of the members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South according to the rules and discipline of said church and further that all ministers duly authorized by said church shall be permitted to preach and expound God's Holy Word therein.
Immediately after the land was given on the 20th of April, the men of the community bean to cut logs from the lot and used them for erecting a house of worship. In three weeks from this beginning a one room log building was complete enough to hold the first public worship service.
The name "Drakes Chapel" was given to the church at this time. There are two possible sources for this name:
- Mrs. Hamilton's family name is reported as being Drake.
- The presiding elder for this district at the time the land was given was Benjamin Drake, who served from 1856-58.
The church could have take its name in honor of the Drake family or the presiding elder or even a combination of these two influences. In recent years "Drakes Chapel" has simply been dropped in favor of Drakes.
This building which has been hastily constructed in order to give the congregation a church to worship in, because the Civil War was not completely finished until a few years after its construction.
A few years after the war a school teacher, whose name is not available, came into the community and the log church was used for a school house as well as worship services for many years until it was destroyed by fire. This fire is reported to have been caused by hot coals from a fire in a stove which was left burning after school one evening. After this destruction of the log church the congregation held their worship services under brush arbors on this four acre lot for a number of years.
During these early years of the church there were no preachers appointed to serve as pastor. It was supplied by itinerants circuit riders who happened to infrequently ride through the country.
The building of another church to replace the log church was not begun until October of 1890. This is also the year the first pastor was appointed to lead the congregation. This first pastor was K. S. Enochs and through his leadership the church was completed on April 4, 1891. The congregation was re-organized on April 11th of this same year and on the second Sunday of August 1891 the church was dedicated by Bishop Charles B. Galloway. R. C. Kerr, P. H. Jones, and J. P. Stevens worked as a building committee for this project.
The next phase of Drakes in terms of building construction began in 1950 when Mrs. V. J. Jones organized the first regular Sunday school for the church. Previously a union church school for the entire community had been held. The Sunday school beginning was the germ that eventually grew into a building program. The one-room sanctuary built in 1891 had been used until 1951 when the congregation decided to construct a new sanctuary and convert the old building into an educational plant.
This building was begun on September 11, 1951 and completed in June 1952. The first service was held in it on June 13th with Rev. Floyd Odum delivering the sermon. A building committee composed of E. H. Burns, Cully Holden, E. L. Jones, V. J. Jones, D. T. Lay, W. F. Quimby, E. L. Spann, and Carl White directed this project with members of the congregation furnishing all of the labor. In March of 1957 it was dedicated by Bishop Marvin A. Franklin.
In October of last year another building project, a parsonage, entered the planning stage. A building committee including W. H. Spann, Bill Pippin, C. M. Wright, C. H. Wright, W. R. Richardson, and Charlie Jones was appointed. These men worked on plans for a suitable parsonage and financing for it until the first of the year. Then at a special Quarterly Conference the church graciously and thankfully accepted a lot from Mr. and Mrs. V. J. Jones as a gift in honor of their daughter, Bertha Mae Jones. This is a significant fact in that exactly one hundred years before this, land was given for a church site and this year land has been given for a parsonage site.
Wednesday night, February 26, 1958, the building committee had planned to meet with the trustees, Mrs. E. R. Jones, Sr., E. L. Spann, and Mrs. W. R. Richardson for the purpose of working out the final details concerning the parsonage. Actual construction of parsonage was to have been on Monday March 3, but all of this was abruptly halted by a disastrous tornado which struck the community on the night of February the 26th.
The most recent phase of building construction was in 1973. A new Education Department was added on to the old sancuary. This added four new Sunday school rooms and a Fellowship Hall upstairs. This note was paid off in August 1975 with a note burning service at the church.
The church has repalced old handmade pews with beautiful padded ones. Many people have been responsible for different additions to the church. Over the years there has been carpet, stained windoes, central air conditioning, hymnbooks and a number of other gifts left in memory of loved ones who had a part in the church.
This brief sketch which is almost all in terms of church buildings is only a skeleton. The real history of Drakes United Methodist Church has been written on the hearts of dedicated men and women who for a century have gained spiritual strength, wisdom, and understanding and experienced God's redemptive love and love for their fellowman and God, and received inspiration for living the abundant life through worshiping and working together in this institution.
When Rev. Ted Giorano arrived for Easter sunrise services at Drakes United Methodist Church, April 1979, he was the only one there. However, he wasn't surpirsed since the church was standing in three to four feet of water. Many of Drakes members were driven from the nearby homes. "The Great Easter Flood of 79", memories are still vivid in many minds. Damage to the Church was extensive. A new foundation was in order as the water caused the old one to shift. Only a strip of paneling around the sanctuary upper walls was saved.
After the flood services were conducted for almost six months in the parking lot under a tent. The summer heat forced services to be held at 9AM from the usual 11AM services. With the help of the dedicated members and friends, plus a work team from the First United Methodist Church from Oak Ridge, Tenn., it has been restored to its present state.
We love our Church. You have to lose something to realize how much it means to you. The Church is here for a purpose and we want people to know it is still dedicated to the service of God. The re-dedication ceremonies were held Sunday, October 7, 1979 at 2:30 P.M.. Dedicated to Christ our Lord and His Word for the Savior of all men.
There have been seventy ministers connected with Drakes United Methodist Church since 1890. A few of these were not appointed by a conference but simply filled in for short periods of time. In the hundred year history there have been twenty-seven presiding elders or district superintendents as they are known now and thirty-four bishops for the area in which the church is located.
In terms of preaching appointments the church has progressed from irregular circuit riders to services once a month to twice a month to a full-time station church with man an varied activities.