The Bells Chapel Cumberland Presbyterian Church was organized
on July 23, 1875 by the Rev.
J. J. Gray, assisted by Rev.
John Dunlap. The church was organized in a log school
building known as Kaleb Kingdom, located approximately one mile
east of the present church building. The log school building was
moved away and a one room frame building was erected in that
year. Services were held at that site until the present site was selected. There were 39 charter members of the Bells Chapel Church. Bells Chapel was admitted to the Hopewell Presbytery in 1885 and then into the Obion Presbytery the following year.
In 1888, F. T. Bell donated four acres of land for the present
site and a new building was constructed under the leadership of
W. M. Zarecor, Sr. In 1914, under the leadership of Rev.
J. A. McIlwain, the old church building was torn down
and replaced by another frame building. The first sermon in this
church was preached by Rev. S. L. Long who used Luke 20:25
(AND HE SAID UNTO THEM, RENDER THEREFORE UNTO CAESAR THE THINGS WHICH BE GOD'S) as his text. The building was dedicated in November of 1921 by the Rev. J. L Hudgins.
In 1949, under the leadership of Rev. W. W. Rutherford, the church added five rooms and a basement, which included a place for two Sunday School classrooms, a kitchen, and a dining room which also served as a fellowship hall.
This building was totally destroyed by fire in the early morning
hours of December 15, 1979. The present structure was built in
1980 at a cost of 150,000.00. Rev. Earl V. Roberts was serving
as the pastor of the church at that time. The members are still
proud of the fact that due to generous contributions of church
members and friends of the church, far and near, the building
and all of its contents were debt-free when the new church was completed. An average of $10,000.00 was placed into an interest bearing account and continues to provide extra funds for the maintenance and repairs of the church.
Twenty-eight different ministers have served the congregation since the church was organized. The present pastor, Rev. Jerry Lynch, started his pastorate on December 1, 1985 and is still the minister of this church at this time (January 1997). The membership figure at the end of 1996 stands at 83 with a Sunday School enrollment of 66.
Present elders of the church are Lindle Cardwell, Jamie Dedmon, Wylie Hollis, Rollin Minton, Roy Petty, Jamie Walker, and Thomas Young. Wylie Hollis serves as session clerk.
This rural church continues to offer a strong, vibrant ministry to all those that attend. There are two women's circles, a men's fellowship, and a mid-week Bible Study. All that have a desire to worship our Lord and Savior are invited to worship with the congregation.
The following is a reprint of a church history prepared my Mr. Mack Kemp in 1975.
The First Bells Chapel church was organized on July 23, 1875, by the Rev. J. J. Gray, assisted by Rev. John Dunlap, in the log school building known as Kaleb Kingdom located about one mile East of the present church. It was organized with thirty-nine charter members. Some of them are as follows: Eli Boyett, F. T. Bell, B. Needham, S. A. Boyett, Josiah Cooper, J. Needham, Sallie Boyett, Nancy Cooper, Mary Needham, Martha Boyett, Mary Bell, J. H. Needham, Susan Needham, J. M. Reed, Ellen Reed, Senie Reed, Nancy Reed, H. Canada, Mary Canada, G. W. Canada, C. W. Canada, Sarah Neal, Mary Neal, Mary Wright, Mary King, Martha Hatch, Cynthia Thomas, Frances Brown, W. L. Howell, E. B. Trosper, Martha Trosper, Polly Whitley.
The last two surviving members were Mrs. Fannie Flowers (Norman) and Mrs. J. M. Reed.
Bells Chapel was admitted to Hopewell Presbytery in the Fall of 1885. After being admitted to Hopewell Presbytery, in the following year, we were transferred to Obion Presbytery.
Descendants of the following are still members of our Church: Boyett , Reed, McDonalds, Brown, Howell, Whitley, Cooper, Bell, Needham.
The log school building was moved away and a one room frame building was erected. Services were held until the present site was selected.
In 1888, F. T. Bell gave four acres of land for the present site and under the leadership of W. M. Zaricor, Sr., a new church was built on this ground.
In 1914, under the leadership of Rev. J. A. McIlwain, the old church was torn down and the present church was built.
The first sermon in this church was preached by Rev. S. L. Noel from Luke 20:25.
This Church was dedicated in November, 1921, by Rev. J. L. Hudgins.
The ordained ministers from this Church are as follows: Rev. Fonnie Boyett, Rev. J. Will Howell, Rev. W. A. Hester, Rev. J. A. Brown, Rev. William G. Stockton, Rev. S. L. Noel, Rev. W. F. Norman, Rev. W. M. Zaricor, Jr., Rev. H. M. Bevil, Rev. Maury A. Norman.
We have had 25 different ministers who have served as follows: Rev J. J. Gray, Rev. J. A. Dunlap, Rev. Joe McKlessey, Rev. W. M. Zaricor, Rev. Joe Calhoun, Rev. J. A. McIlwain, Rev. A. S. Johnson, Rev. A. H. Brown, Rev. B. F. Chastine, Rev. A. D. Salisbury, Rev. W. M. Zaricor, Rev. J. K. Patterson, Rev. O. D. Spense, Rev. Leland Looper, Rev. Franklin Chestnut, Rev. W. D. Marlar, Rev. W. W. Rutherford, Rev. O. R. Glenn, Rev. E. V. Roberts, Rev. Bobby Covington, Rev. Ed Perkins, Rev. Frank Blain, Rev. Carlton Hatcher, Rev. Raymond Kinslow, Rev. Duwayne Pound.
In 1949 under the leadership of Rev. W. W. Rutherford, the addition of five Sunday School rooms and basement which include a place for two Sunday School Classes, kitchen and dining room also used for fellowship room was added. We have two restrooms, running water, and a cemetery on the Church grounds. Our property is valued at $30,000.
There have been 813 joined our church and we now have 117 active members.
We had two members to go to the Presbyterian U.S.A Church in the year 1906.
Bells Chapel entertained Synod October 16, 1923, which is the second highest court in our Church.
We have two missionary auxiliaries, men's fellowship, CYPF, Crusaders and Vacation Bible Church School is held each year.
Bells Chapel Cumberland Presbyterian Church in 1975, has had 877 members in the past one hundred years.
We now have 90 active members.
Services are held each First and Third Sundays in each month, monrings and evenings.
Bible Study each Wednesday evening.
One week revival each year with morning and evening services.
We have the following active Elders: Mack Kemp, L. H. Rochelle, R. W. Minton, Thomas Young, Jamie Dedmon, Jamie Walker, Clay Seine, Roy Petty, Lindle Cardwell (Clerk)
We have the following inactive Elders (living): Walter Cardwell, Basil Richards, Johnny Beard.
Our chruch property is now valued at $75,000.00
Our Cemetery is kept by free Donations
Mack Kemp, 1975
Wylie Hollis added the following information to help bring the church history up to date
The Church was destroyed by fire on 12-17-1979. The congregation met at the Yorkville School until the church was rebuilt. The groundbreaking ceremony was held at the building site on April 6, 1980 at 5:00 o'clock. After the new building was hulled in, evening worship services were held at the church. Seating was by lawn chairs and planks. The first evening worship service was held on August 3, 1980 at 6:00 o'clock. Dedication of the church and open house were held on December 7, 1980 at 2:00 o'clock. The total cost of the building and parking area was $159,938.17. There was lots of volunteer labor bringing the estimated cost of the church to about $175,000.
[Source: Bells Chapel Cumberland Presbyterian Church Member Information Directory, with introductory letter by David Summers, February 8, 1997.]