New Chapel of Discovery Park of America
Post by Rob Finley, docent at Discovery Park of America
Discovery Park of America invites you to come and enjoy the historic church structure located at our facilities. New Chapel of Discovery Park of America, originally of Elbridge, Tennessee, reflects a two hundred year old congregation. Founded as a combination school and church in the early years of the 19th Century, Davidson’s Chapel, as it was originally known, had a dirt floor with split log benches. Like many churches in west Tennessee and west Kentucky, the congregation was dramatically impacted by the Second Great Awakening (1790 to 1800) and the Kentucky Cane Ridge Camp Revival (near Lexington, Kentucky) of 1801 as the flames of revival spread westward over the next 60 years.
In 1900 congregations from Elbridge, Zion, Cunningham, and Minnich combined to form the New Chapel United Methodist Church. The congregation sought to be faithful to the teachings of John Wesley and the Early Methodists with their emphasis upon sincere conversion of unbelievers, scriptural convictions through the Methodist Book of Disciplines, and spiritual compassion concerning the ever challenging issues such as alcohol temperance, abolition of slavery, education and prison reforms, women’s rights, and children’s orphanages.
The church building that you see at Discovery Park of America was built in 1852. It is the third authentic building for this congregation. During the growth years around the onset of the 20th Century, the congregation reached 277 members, but with wars, diseases, and upward mobility, the congregation dwindled down to ten active members by 2013. It was then, that the members decided to preserve their heritage and the building by donating the structure to Discovery Park of America. The building was dismantled and reconstructed at the park.
This attractive house of worship is matched only by the faithfulness of its leaders and members whose names are embossed upon the stain glass windows and in the book of historic records that are on display. As you enter the sanctuary, take in the beautiful woodwork, the curved kneeling rails, the commanding podium, and the stain glass windows. Pause long enough to breathe in the history of the church. Imagine the awe-inspiring worship services with strong preaching, fervent praying, and exalted singing. Allow the hallowed structure to challenge and renew your faith. Then, with respect, express your thankfulness to the congregation for having the vision to preserve this building!
Today, Discovery Park of America seeks to breathe new life into The New Chapel Methodist Church by utilizing its facilities for weddings and worship services. We encourage you to consult with our events director for arrangements.