THE WORST OF TIMES - THE BEST OF TIMES
The year 1929 began a radically different chapter in the life of the church. Dr Gregg left January 1, the congregation called Dr. E. S. Campbell in February. In March the new sanctuary was dedicated. The reader may click on this thumbnail image to see the larger photograph of the front of the new church building. The reader may also click on Appendix here to explore the possible inspiration for the design of this church
Dr. Campbell and family arrived in April and we had to rent a house for them for two years until a manse could be provided. This was our first pastor to live with his family among us, and it was to be a wonderful period in spite of the dark clouds gathering over the country and the world.
In his first few months we had admitted the Henry King family, including daughter Talullah, now Mrs. George McGee Sr., started a nursery, voted to put Bibles in the LM School, started the first Daily Vacation Bible School with 40 pupils, and hired sexton Henry McElvaine upon retirement of Peter Hutson. Henry was the father of our present sexton, William McElvaine. The town was building the present Lookout Mountain School and a new stone school at Watauga and Lincoln for the African Americans, where beloved resident Myrtle Jones would become principal until that school closed in 1962.
Then in October 1929 the stock market crashed. The church faced the crash and the start of the Great Depression with a brand new mortgage and the expense of our new pastor with wife and children in a rented manse. The budget was cut, but missions work was actually increased to respond to the challenge of the times. At his own suggestion, the pastor's salary was reduced. By God's grace we lived through it all.
The crash also closed several recent institutions: Fairyland Inn had opened in 1925, the Lookout Mountain Hotel in 1928, and the Golf Club in 1927.
In the early '30s our church started the Brick Store Mission in St. Elmo, continued to support the orphanage Bachmann Home and King College, and managed to buy the manse on Morrison Street for $12,000.
There was significant growth in the church during these very tough times. In the Spring of 1931 we had 313 members, 50 of them through the Brick Store Mission and a total budget of $25,689.
During the Depression Fairyland School opened, Rock City Gardens opened, and local leaders amassed 2,720 acres of the side of LM and turned it over for addition to the National Military Park. The Civilian Conservation Corps set up two camps on the western slopes of the mountain so that young men out of work could build 30 miles of trails on this land. The Town Common was started where the old Alexander Hunt home had fallen into disrepair, and the Trenton-Lafayette highway was built over the mountain to finally reconnected Dade County to the rest of Georgia for the first time in a century.
In 1940 Dr. Campbell set four goals for our Golden Jubilee Year in 1942 - they were:
(1) Church out of debt,
(2) 600 members,
(3) Equal division of expenses and benevolence, and,
(4) 75% of the membership at Church.
In 1941, our church assumed responsibility and support of West Brow Chapel. In the 1960's Covenant College took over that responsibility.
When we reached 1942, the first three of the four goals had been reached and the Church was dedicated, free of debt. The mortgage was burned and the building dedicated on our fiftieth anniversary. But we had to take the bitter with the sweet: Dr. Campbell, who had been a sergeant in WWI, left us to become a chaplain in the army.
Later that year the Brock Class was organized in the Sunday School for young couples. So that class is now fifty years old - and so, too, are most of its loyal members, we might add.
Rev. Taylor Clarke came in April 1943 and remained for two years. During the war a group of women met at the Church all day every Wednesday to sew for the Red Cross, as they had done during the depression No one had enough rationed gasoline to drive to each others' homes, so all circle meetings were held at the church.
At last the war ended. Out of 106 members in the service we lost four boys from our Church:
Robert Hall, Jr.
John B. Caldwell
These were busy war years, with so many of our boys in the service. The men were under constant strain in their businesses, and the women were anxious over their sons and the war. As we look back it was one of the most uncertain times in our history. And yet those who lived through those times with Dr Campbell speak of them in the warmest tones that far outshine the earlier years. God had provided a strong pastor when one would most be needed. This period began with economic collapse and ended with a second world war only twenty years after the "war to end all wars". All but four returned. God had preserved his church through its darkest days.
But notice that during these worst of times the church had already grown from 147 in 1928 to over 600 by 1942. From Mom Smartt's history we can see how the worst of times can be the best of times for God's church. Our church had lived out the truth of spiritual growth under adversity.
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