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Hickory Grove builds on a diverse past

POSTED: October 29, 2011 1:30 a.m.

The history of Hickory Grove Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, located along Ga. 115 between Murrayville and Dahlonega, dates back 138 years.

The original church building, a brush-arbor building made up of split logs, burned down under mysterious circumstances in 1921. The original church, as it is today, included both black and white worshippers.

The next church building — said to have been built by 16 men in 16 days — is located near the present cemetery down a small road from the current church building. Once the church was finished, it doubled as a school for area children. Some of the men who worked on that building were Walter Whelchel, Wesley Gaines, Glenn Whelchel, Ebb Mays and Frank Martin.

In the following years, the church reduced the number of services to twice a month. Sunday school classes were held on Sundays when the church didn’t meet.

Over the years, church services went back to once a week as attendance increased. In 1985 the Rev. W.L. Whelchel was appointed as the first presiding elder.

During this time, Walter Whelchel and Bennie Whelchel worked to keep the church in good shape with many repairs and improvements.

Under the Rev. Whelchel’s leadership, plans were made in 1991 to build a new church building in front of the old building. Ground was broken for the new building in March 1992 and on Sept. 13, 1992, the members marched from the old church into the new church.

As church attendance continued to rise, the Rev. Whelchel came up with the idea to build a Life Center that included a gymnasium for the future generations. The Hickory Grove C.M.E. Church Life Center was consecrated on March 25, 2007.

The church currently has about 200 members, including descendants of some of the original members, and is led by the Rev. Joseph Harvey. The Rev. Albert Lee III has conducted services recently as the Rev. Harvey recovers from health problems.



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