Although rain had been coming down for two weeks prior to the big day, the sun came out and it was a near perfect outing for the third major fundraiser held for the work being done on Epworth Chapel in Cherokee Sound on Saturday, June 8. Like most local events, the people came out to support this most worthy community project.
People came to donate items, brought food to sell and came to volunteer their help, but they also came to visit with friends and family. Some people were skeptical and lamented that times were tough, people were short on cash and many were without work. Fortunately, the pessimists were proven wrong that day. The optimists cited the fact that money collected was going to restoring a local landmark, easing open many more wallets that would have otherwise remained closed.
At the close of the weekend, at a special church service held in the Community Center across the street from the old church, Hartis Pinder based his sermon on Nehemiah 4:6 remarking that “the people had a mind to work” and re-build the wall around Jerusalem. He compared them to Cherokee people that despite struggles, the people were not letting anything stand in their way and are determined to keep the old landmark.
As noted in a recent article, Epworth Methodist Chapel was first built in 1816 and has survived numerous hurricanes. However, it is still the people and not the building that sustains the community.
Restoration began on the old building on April 23, 2013 and all church meetings and functions have moved across the street to the Wm. W. Sands Community Center.
This church is still a beautiful Sanctuary, but the ravages of time and weather have taken their toll. The building is suffering from rotting wood in the ceiling and many deep cracks in the walls from the disintegration of the limestone. The problems have become worse with the passing years and it is apparent that repairs cannot wait any longer.
However, professional help was needed to assess the scope of the project. These reports have been received and the repairs have begun. This will be a major undertaking and the work will take time and money to complete.
Rev. Marie Neilly, Resident Minister for the Eastern Abaco Region of the BCMC and Michael Knowles, Chairman of the Church Board at Epworth Chapel, along with the Chairman of the Fund Raising Committee, Captain Michael Bethel, whose family have been members of the church for many generations, as well as Epworth’s many members will be putting all their efforts into completing this project. It may be necessary to have further fund raisers.
Few communities on Abaco have the turnout for Fund Raisers like Cherokee. The people know when they come to a Cherokee function they are going to enjoy the day. Organized by Michael and Maria Bethel, together with a hard working committee, the June 8 Fund Raiser had a most successful auction, some new games and some unique and enjoyable entertainment, which everyone enjoyed. The Committee hopes that the people will know the work is for the Glory of God and that they are helping to complete a job that is very close to the hearts of the Cherokee people.