Tracey Scott

Celebrating the 200th Anniversary of the Chapel

Memories of the Chapel from: Tracey Scott, longtime Liberty member and elder

The Chapel was much bigger in the 1980s than it is now. We entered each week up the steps and through the “narthex” where we gathered before and after services. There were no offices in that area so the space was large enough for many to meet and greet, then run into the Chapel to find a seat just before the bell rang for worship.

The Chapel was returned to its original 1820s size and orientation after the Barn was built in 1995 (with special thanks to Bill Porterfield and Andy Little.)  When we worshiped in the Chapel in the 80’s and 90’s, the Sanctuary included the space where the 12-Step Room is now. The windows on the east end were covered by wood siding where our rustic wooden cross hung above the pulpit area. The Chapel now has pews but in the 80’s and ‘90’s, we sat on folding metal chairs without chair pads. No wonder services never ran longer than an hour!

A simple crown of thorns was laid on top of the cross during Lent, when Wednesday evening Lenten services were held. Those services were much the same as they are now. If you’d like a taste of “old Liberty,” attend a Lenten service in the Chapel!

For many years, Margie Wells was Liberty’s receptionist. She warmly welcomed visitors and members alike to the old Chapel, answering our questions and asking about our children by name, remembering the details of their lives, just as she remembers them today!

We sang from leather hymnals, lovingly handmade by members. The hymnals had only words, no music notes, so we often listened to the melody on the piano before our voices were lifted in song. The congregation sang loudly enough to raise the rafters as we praised God. Then, as now, there was no weekly choir, but we had wonderful musicians including David Tolley, Cara Markley (at age 10, I think), her father, Craig Markley, and our concert violinist, Mary Irwin, among others.

As a college student, David Tolley played in the old Chapel on an upright piano. We were in awe of how his fingers flew over the keys. Hum a few bars of your favorite hymn to him and immediately he could play it, adding beautiful embellishments to the original…. just like now!

Recently, I’ve had waves of nostalgia when I see all the old pictures of the Chapel and remember events outside on the lawn. My mind fills with the fun of chicken barbecues where groups of women worked for days snapping fresh green beans, making pies and peeling apples for homemade applesauce.

Being at our Lenten services on Wednesday night reminded me of how our voices used to fill the old Chapel as we prayed together, “Our Father, who art in heaven…..” and sang, “ Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.” By the grace of God, the voices of worshipers are just as strong today as back then! My prayer is that 200 years from now the rafters will still ring as voices are lifted to worship Him!