From 1965, when my family moved to Chattanooga, I've heard of The Little Brown Church. I learned that the church, formerly known as Union Chapel, was founded in 1908. Basically, it was organized to meet the need for a Sunday school on Signal Mountain when a trip to Chattanooga took four hours by horse and buggy. It has operated every summer since then in an atmosphere akin to hearing the word of God in a one-room schoolhouse.
Through the years, I have been invited to speak at the church on several occasions, but each time I could not accept - until Aug. 11 of this year. It was an absolute delight to participate in the worship experience. We sang well-known and well-loved hymns such as "Blessed Assurance," "Amazing Grace" and, of course, the congregation's theme song, "The Little Brown Church in the Wildwood."
The service was led by current superintendent Hugh Brown, Jr., but children read the Scripture, led the responsive reading and rang the bell at the close of the service. Special music that day was by the Mountain Cove Bluegrass Band. Attendees were casually dressed, and several brought their dogs. I was concerned the dogs would be a distraction, but they weren't. One did bark when the congregation applauded.
Yet, all of us left the service feeling we had experienced authentic worship.
According to Karen Stone, the keeper of records and author of the well-documented and well-illustrated book by the same name as the church, attendance that day was 302, about half of whom needed to sit on the porch or the patio. One hundred percent of the church's offering each Sunday goes to the support of Christian work in the Chattanooga area. Upkeep for the chapel comes from the many weddings held there.
The roots of The Little Brown Church go deeply into Chattanooga history, but the gospel it proclaims is as current as the morning newspaper and as ancient as the Bible itself.
Nell Mohney is a Christian author, motivational speaker and seminar leader. She may be reached at nellw firstname.lastname@example.org.