I have driven past exit 67 on Interstate 95 many, many times. Little did I know that about a mile off the highway is Christ’s Chapel, the smallest church in America. Located in McIntosh County, Georgia, this 12 seat church was built in 1949 by a local widow and grocer named Agnes Harper. She wanted travelers to have a place where they could rest and pray. Some folks tried to discourage her from building it, telling her that she didn’t have the money to build a chapel fine enough “to do justice to God.” She did it anyway and the deed was made out to Jesus Christ.
I had read about the church earlier this month and made a mental note to drop in for a peek on the way back to Florida from my trip to Georgia. The problem is, when you get to be my age, mental notes have a tendency to float off in the slightest “breeze.” I was so busy yuckin’ it up on the phone as I hurtled down 95 that I almost missed the turn-off. Thanks to lighter than normal traffic, I was able to slip over into the right lane-just in the nick of time.
Less than five minutes later, I was rolling onto a gravel drive way…the teeny church standing unassumingly in the shadow of the surrounding moss covered, oak trees. I hesitated for a second as I approached the front door, after all I was out in the middle of nowhere… alone. What if there was someone in there, what would I do? The knob turned freely in my hand and I cautiously entered the tiny, humid, and yes, vacant chapel. The light was on, but it still took a minute to adjust to the darkened interior. I was immediately taken aback by the beauty of the stained glass windows which I found out later came from England. Sunlight filtered through the pretty panes illuminating a vast collection of candles, statues, mementos, photos and handwritten notes that were lined up against the windows and propped along the walls near the roof. All of these faces, old and young bore silent testimony to the fact that those who love them sought refuge, peace and and no doubt miracles in this place of rest and reflection. You could almost hear the echo of their prayers..
I’m sure Mrs. Harper would smile if she could see her chapel today.
Local ministers still take turns leading non-denominational services here every third Sunday. Christ’s Chapel is open every day from 6am-8pm.