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Mark your calendar for June 6! Bishop Chapel hopes you’re ‘coming home’ for homecoming

Bishop Chapel Church and Cemetery has planned homecoming for Sunday, June 6, 2021. The church is also thrilled to be celebrating its 83rd anniversary.

Eighty-three years ago, a small group of people gathered with the desire to plant a new church in the rural farm community adjacent to the small cemetery which ahas now served as the final resting place for family and friends for more than 155 years. Bishop Chapel Church was organized in 1936 when neighbors made the decision to build a church adjoining a burial ground which had been set aside by James Bishop as a final resting place for persons beginning as early as 1862.

The effort to construct a church building in this particular spot was led by A. P Fanning, George Bishop, Jack A. Bishop, and William Horace Bishop. Church records indicate that residents of the area contributed funds ranging from $1 to $10. Many gave their time as carpenters and by March 23, 1937, Bishop Chapel Church was constituted. During the first year, 45 persons joined the church. First-year church expenses were $67.62 with $9.25 of that amount being spent for lamps. Homecoming 2021 will be a time of remembering and honoring those who made this small, country church a special place in the Summertown community.

Bishop Chapel homecoming fills such a great time in people’s lives. It is a time and an occasion for remembering the wonderful memories of the past years, heritage, and to be grateful for the blessings of God. Homecoming provides an opportunity to look back at all the happy times as well as all the sad times. In addition, homecoming is a time to honor deceased friends and relatives. It is a time to rekindle fires and a time to re-energize. Most importantly, homecoming is a time to share family legacies with children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren.

Bishop Chapel Church and Cemetery is a place of generations. Bishop Chapel wants to remember its past and view the present while, at the same time, sharing hope for the future with the offspring of all those who came before. During homecoming, the church will have an opportunity to recognize second-, third-, fourth-, and fifth-generation descendants of family and friends of ancestors of the church and cemetery. If you have been unable to “make it home” for the last several homecomings, Bishop Chapel hopes this will be the year you will gather the “clan” and help keep the annual homecoming alive and well.

Do you remember homecomings when all the pews were “packed” and extra chairs were needed? Even though many of the church’s dear saints from past years are deceased, church leadership wants to make this an occasion to fill the physical church again with the descendants of loved ones.

What’s more, homecoming is a time to reflect. Bishop Chapel Cemetery is a treasured landmark in the community. When the church building was completed in 1937, there were more than 50 graves in the cemetery. The oldest identified grave in the cemetery is that of Alien Bishop, who died April 10, 1862 and was a son of William Charles Bishop III (born in 1801 and died in 1876) and his wife, Sarah Coleman Bishop (born in 1802 and died in 1884). More than 100 family groups are directly connected to William and Sarah Coleman Bishop. Many descendants of these extended families, along with their extended families, former church members, and former community residents, are interred in the cemetery.

Bishop Chapel Church hopes you have an opportunity to spend time strolling through the cemetery. There are several graves that are not identified, and the church looks forward to a time when those graves can be identified and marked. There is a small number of graves whose descendants have been unable to be located; Bishop Chapel would appreciate any help in the identification process. Families include: the James W. Braswell Family, the Broom Family, the Bishop Brown Family, the Ralph Lamar Coleman Family, the Hutchens Family, and the Luke Wethers Family.

Graves for 13 veterans have been identified, and flags will be available for marking veterans’ graves. Most likely, there are others who served the United States that have not been identified and are not marked.

The Heritage Room will be open for everyone to enjoy memorabilia such as pictures, old church records, and family histories. Paper and pens will be provided at this location for you to share short memories of your ties to the church and cemetery.

Services will begin in the sanctuary with greetings and hymns around 10:30 a.m. Tommy Freemen and Gail Ware will lead the music portion of the worship service, and Rev. Louis Pierce will lead the worship service at 11 a.m. Rev. Pierce serves as director of missions for the Emanuel Baptist Association. Worship will close with special recognition of the legacy of Bishop Chapel Church and Cemetery with a basket lunch to follow.

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