Andrews Chapel Methodist
Andrews Chapel Methodist is an African American church in far north Georgia just south of the Tennessee border. It is quite significant historically, since the congregation was formed in 1872 right after the Civil War. When you think about emancipated slaves beginning to form their own version of religion and spirituality during this part of the 19th century, it was only a thirty year window, so this one is pretty rare. This was a difficult time in our state’s history and, as always, the church was the center of everything for these early congregants.
The church now known as Andrews Chapel was organized in Red Clay, Georgia in 1872 by Henry Andrews. Andrews, a former slave, resided on the plantation located in what is now Apison, Tennessee. He would walk the seven miles from his home to Red Clay where he served as minister of the newly formed church. Around 1923, the building was moved with logs and mules to its present location in the Town of Cohutta, two miles south of Red Clay on Red Clay Road. The cornerstone of the building lists the trustees of the church that were instrumental in the relocation and setup of the building. The list includes, Reverend J.S. Williams, W.M. Prater, J.A. Prater, B.H. Prater, T. E. Prater, W.L. Cregmiles, and E.D. Barett.
As the congregation dwindled, Sunday services were shared alternately with the Baptist church across the street, one Sunday worshiping in the Methodist church and the next the Baptist. Finally there weren’t enough members of either church to support their ministry. After the Methodists discontinued services, the building was used by several other denominations. In 2016, the last remaining member of Andrews Chapel and caretaker of the building, Billy Prater, a descendant of B.H Prater, arranged for the African Methodist Episcopal Church to donate the building to the Town of Cohutta. When Cohutta received the deed it was pleasantly surprised to discover it included half ownership of the one room black schoolhouse across the street. The town has since acquired full ownership of the school and is in the process of restoring Andrews Chapel, which will be used as a cultural center for the preforming arts and the school building for classes in art and history.
We are grateful to the citizens of Cohutta and the leadership of the town for the respectful re-purposing of this historic old structure. This part of Georgia history can be difficult to come by and it is good to know that a church with this proud history in the foothills of Georgia will live on.