Although early records of the church’s history were destroyed in a fire, the church historian, Olin B. Looney, was able to preserve a history for future generations.
According to historical records, earliest worship services were held in a woven brush arbor shaded by the same mammoth oaks that grace our worship site today. The early congregation consisted of a few white settlers (planters), blacks and Indians. No denomination was evident, just worshippers. In 1820, a simple log cabin was the first building of worship. Later, as more settlers came to the area, a larger two story building known as Grange Hall was erected about a quarter mile north of the log building.
As the small community began to grow, plans were made for the erection of the present-day Shaeffer’s Chapel. The land, about two acres, was deeded to the trustees of Shaeffer’s Chapel by Col. John Gilmer. The trustees at that time were Thomas A. Evans, Henry Foote, and W.B. Ferguson. In 1878, the present day Shaeffer’s Chapel was erected.
The man thought to be responsible of this audacious undertaking was a mission preacher, Rev. George Shaeffer. Rumor has it that Rev. Shaeffer held services in the woven brush arbor before buildings were thought of. George Shaeffer was converted in 1831 and entered the preaching ministry in 1835, becoming one of Lowndes County’s first Methodist circuit riding preachers. He never had an “official” appointment to Shaeffer’s Chapel, but he served with such distinction and manner that Shaeffer’s Chapel was named in honor of him. He died January 23, 1886, several years after the completion of Shaeffer’s Chapel.
Since those early years, Shaeffer’s Chapel has seen many changes: a remodel effort began in 1949, with redecorated interior, new concrete steps and butane gas heating by 1951. In 1965, the Educational Building was completed which houses Sunday School rooms, Fellowship Hall, kitchen and restrooms. Today, there is central air and heating, piano and organ, sound system and carpet on the floor. For sure, the present members have modernized this “arbor” church and put in a few conveniences. But all this seems to fade into the background of the towering oaks swaying above the cupola of the church as we people’s lives are celebrated through the memories of baptisms, weddings, christening of their children, the death of loved ones, communion. We forever remain indebted to the vision of Rev George Shaeffer and others who were encouraged to build Shaeffer’s Chapel.