Dr. Vernon S. Broyles, Jr. June 16, 1976–February 13, 1992
Dr. Vernon S. Broyles was the founding Chaplain of Big Canoe Chapel and is still the Senior Chaplain with the longest tenure. He guided the Chapel for almost 16 years. Dr. Broyles died on February 13, 1992. His greatest strengths were a deep and abiding faith and a keen interest in the lives of those in the Chapel and in the community. During his time here, he became a legend as he had been at North Avenue Presbyterian Church in Atlanta where he served for many years. The Chapel was built and it grew and was expanded from a seating capacity of 135 to 350. The Chapel Cemetery was developed and the Broyles Center was constructed. The goal of giving fifty percent of Chapel revenue to Missions and Benevolence causes was achieved. The Chapel Choir was formed as was the Chapel Women’s Guild. The Vernon S. Broyles Mission Conference was also begun and continues as an annual event. Dr. Broyles was profoundly awed by what God was doing through the Chapel and he never saw anything good as being completely secular—he saw the Divine where most saw the ordinary. Dr. Broyles made the Christmas Eve services at the Chapel very memorable. Each year he stood before a packed Chapel and told the familiar story of the birth of Jesus by weaving together the nativity passages from Matthew and Luke. He did this without benefit of an open Bible or notes. Many Chapel members and visitors still recall how Dr. Broyles never missed a verse as he stood there humbly and in genuine awe of the Christmas story. It was as if he had just come from the stable in Bethlehem. Dr. Broyles made the news of the Savior’s birth so fresh and so achingly real that hearts were deeply touched by hearing the Good News from God’s beloved messenger.
Dr. Jimmy R. Allen March 1992–December 31, 2002
Dr. Allen gained national recognition as pastor of the 9,000-member First Baptist Church of San Antonio, Texas. He was recognized as an outstanding preacher, administrator and leader. It was noted that he has preached in more than 30 countries around the world. In the 1960s, Jimmy Allen was a passionate defender of civil rights. Undaunted by open hostility and death threats, he continued to stand by his beliefs. It was an unbelievably risky thing for a young preacher to preach on the immorality of racism during this turbulent time. Dr. Allen is the author of Burden of a Secret, a book that details the Allen family tragedy caused by a blood transfusion that was tainted by the AIDS virus, which resulted in the deaths of two young grandsons and his daughter-in-law. During his almost 11 years as Senior Chaplain, the Chapel membership doubled and the budget rose from $416,000 to over a million dollars. The Broyles Center was expanded by sixty-six percent and the Terraces and Scout Hut were built. A Memorial Wall at the Chapel Cemetery was constructed and the Chapel Bell Tower was built. During the Broyles Center expansion and several other fund-raising campaigns, Dr. Allen personally brought in excess of $500,000 into the Chapel from his sources and contacts. A biography of Dr. Allen was released in July 2010 entitled Loving Beyond Your Theology: The Life and Ministry of Jimmy R. Allen. The author is Dr. Larry McSwain, Professor of Leadership at McAfee School of Divinity and a distinguished author and teacher.
Dr. James R. McCormick July 27, 2003–August 31, 2008
Dr. James R. McCormick first served as interim Chapel from January 5, 2003-July 20, 2003. He became the third Senior Chaplain on July 27, 2003 and remained until his retirement in 2008. Dr. McCormick came to the Chapel with a reputation as an outstanding Bible teacher and scholar. He began by teaching several books of the Bible and his Disciple Bible studies attracted a large number of participants resulting in his teaching as many as three separate classes a week. He taught Disciple I, II, III and IV and also Jesus in the Gospels. These were intensive 32-week courses of study. Dr. McCormick also taught through leading pilgrimages to the lands of the Bible. In 2005, he led 42 participants on the “Journeys of Paul” pilgrimage to Greece, including a cruise to several of the Greek Isles. Dr. and Mrs. McCormick also led pilgrimages to Israel in 2006 and they led two groups to Israel in 2009 after his retirement. They also led two pilgrimages to Greece again in 2010. Dr. McCormick continued to teach Disciple classes for two years after his retirement. During his time as Chaplain he introduced a very popular series each August called “The Gospel Goes to Broadway.” He explained his theological reasoning for these series. He said, “I have long believed that all truth is God’s truth, so wherever you find truth, you find God. If the dramas and musicals on Broadway deal with life’s truths in such a way as to touch the heart, there must be something there of God’s truth.” Dr. McCormick is the author of four books: Marriage is for Adults; Tell it Like it Used to Be; Welcome Home and Does it Look and Sound like Jesus?
Dr. C. Gray Norsworthy September 1, 2008–April 16, 2010
The Chapel was filled on Sunday, April 11, 2010, as Dr. Gray Norsworthy preached his last sermon at the Chapel. It was a message of peace, unity and love—a message that Gray had lived for all to see. Dr. Norsworthy was a very visible Chaplain who initiated regular staff meetings, a long-range study that included scores of Chapel members, taught a class on Wednesdays following the Family Fellowship Dinner and brought 70 new members into the Chapel. He taught classes for new members and a confirmation class. He was generous in recommending books and authors to help members in their journeys, often loaning books from his large personal library. Dr. Norsworthy officiated at funerals, memorial services, baptisms and weddings and met with many to help during painful life experiences. He was an encourager, a kind and astute counselor and a person of great endurance and strength. Most of all he preached the Good News of Jesus Christ. His writings have been included in a new volume of books called Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary edited by the distinguished David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor.