Methodism in Cades Cove

by alex mckeel

Methodist Church

Methodist Church

The Christian faith is as important today as when it first took hold in the mountains 200 years ago. Throughout the early history of Cades Cove, a person would find the Baptist and the Methodist church worship within the community. These two denominations had their beliefs and their own way of interpreting of Biblical scriptures. This paper will discuss the Methodists denomination found within Cades Cove.

Dunn’s account of the creation of the Methodist faith came from former circuit riders, camp meetings, and especially the teachings of Reverend George Eakin who preached in Cades Cove as early 1823-1824. Until a building was establish the members of the Methodist faith would meet and worship with the Primitive Baptist Church. The Methodist would finally have their first church in Cades Cove in 1827. Church membership was slow at first but steadily did increase over the years, and with the help of James Deaver a Methodist Church would be constructed.[1]

However, beliefs on slavery and religious differences were changing throughout the country. Tragically, even within churches a citizen would hear arguments over theological differences over slavery. As a result of this, in 1844, because of the difference over slavery one would see the split of the Methodist church found in Cades Cove.  Many of the members stayed put; however, many members went on to form a new Methodist church that would be named Northern Methodist Church, also known as Hopewell Methodist Church.[2]

This congregation would meet with other churches until a new church could be built after the Civil War by Dan Lawson. Throughout the years both the Northern Methodist (Hopewell) and the Southern Methodist Church (Methodist Episcopal Church South) even worship with the members of the Primitive Baptist Church on special occasions.

A new Methodist church was built in 1902 by Reverend John D. McCampbell and the congregation. Today, the church can still be found within Cades Cove. Looking at the structure today one will see two doors. These doors were made for men to enter through one side and women and children through the other. [3]

Sadly no one could invasion what would occur in Cades Cove in less than thirty years. As more and more people left Cades Cove to other parts of the state and country, the remaining people who occupied Cades Cove would still worship within each house of worship. However, as the National Park service was telling people of Cades Cove they had to leave their homes, a number of the churches attendance were dropping, and the Methodist churches were no different. Eventually, because of the decline of members, both Methodist churches would disband. Unfortunately, because of the church being disband, the Northern Methodist Church (Hopewell) had fallen into disrepair, and as a result the National Park Service found the building to be unsafe and tore it down. [4]

One would think that this would be the last time one would hear of the Methodist church in Cades Cove. However, the Southern Methodist Episcopal building is used to this day. In fact, the Methodist Church is used for an inter-denominational service that is held for the people who camp within Cades Cove’s Campground.[5]

The Methodist church found within Cades Cove is a symbol. Not just of the Christian Faith; however, it is a symbol of Appalachian otherness. The Christian religion found within the Appalachia region is unique in many aspects. The people and their religion are as unique as the types of trees found in the mountains. A person will stay true to their Catholic heritage with the number of Catholic missions found, Baptist churches, Presbyterians, Church of God, and others that help shape Appalachia and the people who reside within these mountains. 


[1] Durwood Dunn. Cades Cove: (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press) 119.

[2] Durwood Dunn. Cades Cove: (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press) 120-121

[3] “Cades Cove Methodist Church.” ( Accessed February 7, 2018

[4] Durwood Dunn. Cades Cove: (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press) 253-254.

[5] A. Randolph Shields, “Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” Tennessee Historical Quarterly   Volume 24 (1965) 103-120