Did You Know?
The very first service in our Chapel was on Christmas Eve in 1977. Here is an early photo of the Chapel.
The ground-breaking for our Chapel was on July 19, 1977 and the target date for completion was set for Christmas Eve of that same year. What a leap of faith! The late Charlene Terrell, Chapel historian, writes:
“Christmas Eve dawned to gray skies and chilly weather. There were workmen everywhere. The electrician was still hanging chandeliers. Outside a giant crane was waiting to hoist the Chapel bell into place. The weather remained cold and the skies gray.
Late in the day things came together and the bell was slung into position. In that same instant, the heavy overcast parted slightly and the sun broke through, illuminating the bronze bell and turning it into a blaze of gold. Then the overcast conditions resumed. Those who witnessed the event were very moved and felt in their hearts that the sunlit bell was a sign from above that God was well-pleased with the efforts of the people to build a place of worship for Him.
That evening about a hundred folding chairs were ready to set up. The weather was still miserable by early evening and a thick fog rolled in, obscuring the mountains themselves. Some debated if all the chairs should be set up or not. It was finally decided to put them all in place. When it was time for the service, down from the mountaintops and out of the valleys and across the ridges people came through the fog and mist to the gleaming, candlelit Chapel. The chairs were all filled, and some people sat on the floor. In Church in the Wildwood, author John Robert Smith said of the people’s reaction to the Chapel, “It was love at first sight.”
The above description is quoted from Church in the Wildwood: The Continuing Story of Big Canoe Capel, Charlene Terrell, 2007.
Free copies available in cubby holes in Broyles Center.
MORE QUOTES RE: THE 1977 CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICE
“We all worked late into the day to get ready for the service that night. By the time I could leave, I headed for Snellville to pick up my wife to bring her back for the service but between the weather and the traffic, by the time I got there, it was 6:30 and the service started at 7:00. There was no way to get back, but I’m still sorry I missed it. If I’d been there I would have gotten to lite one of the Dedication Candles.”
– Paul Schmidt
“It was special . . . so special. Dr. Broyles narrated the whole Christmas story from passages in the Bible and he never once looked at a note. After that my family and I never missed a Christmas Eve Service. I remember once we were scheduled to go on a cruise leaving on Christmas Day from South Florida but we went to the service and then drove all night to Florida. We just wouldn’t miss it.”
– Ken Rice
“On Christmas Eve, Dr. Broyles would just stand up there telling you about the birth of Christ like he was telling you part of his own family history. He quoted all the Bible passages from memory and he didn’t miss a beat. You couldn’t take your eyes off of him. When it was over we all walked out- no one talked. Everybody left in complete silence. No one told us to do that. We just did it.”
– Kathleen Ingram
(age 9 at the Christmas Eve Dedication)