Chapel On the Hill
Our Sunday Mornings
8:00 Early Service in the Fellowship Hall
9:00 Adult Sunday School
10:00 Family Service in the Chapel
- Nursery available
- Children released early for Sunday School
11:00 Coffee Hour in the Fellowship Hall
When the City was still a place of mud, without a store, a post office, or even a name, a group of thirty earnest and devout Christians from several denominations met on July 18, 1943 for morning worship service in the only available space—the west wing of the old Town site cafeteria. Following the service, conducted by a young electrician from the Y-12 Plant, several members of the congregation remained to discuss the possibilities of holding services in the weeks ahead and of founding an interdenominational church. In meetings that followed, all agreed the new church should have a name that would include all denominations and would in no way tie it to any single denomination. The name finally decided upon was the “United Church.
A United Church Board and Board of Trustees were elected and assumed their duties on October 24, 1943. Also late in October of 1943, the US military completed construction on the chapel that houses this church near the main business district (Jackson Square) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The standard Army chapel was soon known to those who worked on the Manhattan Project as the “Chapel-on-the-Hill.” On September 30, 1943, it was dedicated for Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant worship. Once completed, the Chapel-on-the-Hill was turned over to the Oak Ridge churches - the United Church and the Roman Catholic Church, the only two then operating in Oak Ridge.
In the Chapel-on-the-Hill, the Protestant, the Roman Catholic and the Jewish faiths held services. As the various denominations began to organize, the Chapel was used by all of them for weddings and practically every hour, day and night, was used for organ practice. The United Church had congregations in four locations and Sunday Schools in seven. More than 4,000 weddings were celebrated in this ecumenical chapel during its first 50 years.
A crisis faced the United Church in December 1946 when 5,000 Tennessee Eastman Corporation employees, among them forty percent of the members of the United Church, were terminated. In addition, Rev. B. M. Larson, capable leader and organizer of the United Church, received a call to organize a new church. Soberly the matter was pondered—at board meetings, in the homes, on the street corners—had time come to disband? The final decision to maintain the United Church was based on: (1) the experience of worshiping, studying and serving with people of various denominations was enriching and challenging; (2) there would never be enough people in Oak Ridge from some denominations to form a strong church and these people could find a “church home” in the United Church without having to give up their own particular religious beliefs; (3) those couples where the husband was from one denomination and the wife from another could find a common “church home” within the United Church—without giving up their particular denominational beliefs if they preferred to retain them—thus our motto “Where People from All Denominations Meet in Their Differences, but Are One in Their Search for God.”
On May 11, 1955, the United Church purchased the Chapel from the Government. The Chapel was renovated, an education building was constructed and a Nursery School was established. Today, the United Church continues as a non-denominational Christian Community of Faith.
Because of the historic significance to Oak Ridge’s religious community, the Chapel-on-the-Hill was placed on the National Register of Historic places in 1993.
THE uNITEd church
Where people from all denominations meet in their differences, but are one in their search for God.
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