Grace BaptistI am sitting in the sanctuary at the church waiting. It is during that short break between Sunday School and the morning service. I usually take this time to check out the program for the day, the weekly announcements & birthdays and to place bits of paper in the hymnal marking the songs we’ll be singing during the service. As the noise levels around me would indicate, it’s a time for smiles and hugs and catching up on what’s been going on all week, greeting visitors, making them welcome, and doing all sorts of odds and ends that need to be done before the service gets started.

I sit quietly listening to the pleasant hum of all this activity while pondering the morning’s Sunday School lesson and wondering what topic the pastor will choose for today’s sermon. It’s Missionary Month and I read that today we’ll have a guest speaker from the Prison Missions Program.  Thinking of missionaries, I notice Eric chatting with Kim over on the “Hallelujah” side about the latest news he has received from Mlachivka. For the past ten years or so, he has led a missionary group over to this small community in the Ukraine to help out a church and an orphanage there. A staff housing building was lost in a fire recently and funds are being raised to try to help re-build it.  He is deep into details about buildings and children and already making plans for leading another team next summer.

“Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we you hungered, and fed you? or thirsty, and gave you drink? When saw we you a stranger, and took you in? or naked, and clothed you? Or when saw we you sick, or in prison, and came to you? And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me.” (Matthew 25:37-39)

Little Kelly comes running up to Pastor Mark with something important to tell him. He sweeps her up into his arms…up to his level… and she chatters away, using every one of her ten fingers to emphasize the information that she needs to tell him…probably some wonderful thing she might have heard in Sunday school this morning that the Pastor should know.  Just as quickly as she arrived, she is out of his arms and chasing down the aisle after Sammy and Delia who are most assuredly trying not to see their mama’s stern look reminding them that it is time to settle down and find their seats for church. But they’re off…totally ignoring mom……streaking by the Pastor’s wife, Sarah, who comes in loaded down with two oversized tote bags filled to overflowing with pencils and crayons and books and construction paper and hand sanitizer and crackers and all the other bit and pieces she’ll need at one point or another throughout the day. Three more little ones trail behind her like wayward ducklings first going this way and that before heading to their seats up on the second row with the other kids where James is waiting patiently for them and handing out quarters and dimes so that they too will have coins for the offering plates. I find myself thinking about the special memories children will have who are raised in church…how all their lives they will remember the stories about Jesus being born and the verses they’ve memorized….. and they will know that overall feeling of acceptance that every father and mother, grandmother and grandfather, uncle and aunt in the whole congregation somehow also belonged to each of them.

“But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said to them, Suffer the little children to come to me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:14)

More and more people are starting to drift into the sanctuary and the noise level, though still pleasant, increases…..lots of talking and catching up going on today.  A rousing rendition of “Power in the Blood” is coming from Michele at the organ over on the “Hallelujah” side of the sanctuary. In the meantime, Marlene sits over by the piano over on the “Amen” side silently fingering the notes on her flute for the special song she will play for us right after the morning’s announcements. She studies the music sheet in front of her and nods her head in rhythm and as she mentally practices at getting everything just right. Karen moves past her and sits down at  the piano so she can spend just a few minutes going over the hymns for the songs the congregation will sing today. She stops for a moment to smile and wave at someone at the back and then gets right back to the task at hand. The music I hear provides a lovely backdrop to all the chaos and I find myself humming along as Michele changes to Because He Lives”.

“I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.” (Psalm 7:17)

I see one of the deacons heading up front to check to make sure the offering plates are where they’re supposed to be. His wife stops by the communion table to straighten up the autumn floral arrangement making sure all the yellow, orange, and golden chrysanthemums are arranged just so and looking their best. Her hand lightly moves across the linen table runner pulling out any wrinkles and then settles on the open Bible to smooth down the pages that have curled up in the breeze of someone just passing by. She gives the flowers one last smoosh and heads back to her seat towards the back. She stops on the way to say hello and get hug from Inez who has made a double-sized batch of cranberry conserve for Thanksgiving dinner and is busy passing out pint-sized jars of the sweet tangy relish so that others might also enjoy it with their turkey and dressing this year.

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus…”  (Philippians 2:3-5)

Steve heads up towards the pulpit with a hymnal in hand and I know we must be very close to the time to get things started.  As I look around at all the activity going on, I am filled with thankfulness for this joy, this love, this congregation, and above all, the shared beliefs that have brought us together on this Sunday to this place. I bow my head and reach for that still quiet place deep down inside that I know will always be there and I whisper a little prayer that all these ordinary but wonderful things going on around me, all the chaos, all the noise, all the hugging and smiling and chattering…will always be the same and that we will always come together like this in thanksgiving to remember the gift that was given and the price that was paid. And I am thankful for this grace….this very ordinary but amazing grace.

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…..was blind but now I see.”

  1. Victory in Jesus”, Words and Music by E.M. Bartlett, © 1939 – Administrated by Integrated Copyright Group, Inc., All rights reserved; Lyrics –
  2. Amazing Grace”; Words by John Newton; 1779; Music by Virginia Harmony; Lyrics –
  3. Because He Lives”; Songwriters – Matt Maher, Jason Ingram, Ed Cash, Chris Tomlin, Daniel Carson, Bill Gaither, Gloria Gaither; © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Essential Music Publishing, Capitol Christian Music Group;1971; Lyrics –

Stone’s Chapel


This was the church I went to when I was a child. I remember going to church in the summer and it would be hot so they would open the windows to try to stir up a little breeze throughout the church. The church sat beside a pasture where cows grazed. When the congregation would start singing, the cows in the pasture would lope on over to the wooden fence and lean their heads over the fence and start to moo … singing right along with the people in church. I recall that they did not muuurrrr too much during the sermon but they certainly did seem to enjoy the hymns.” (Jerry Hanline)





Stone’s Chapel is still there on Crum’s Church Road in Clarke County near Berryville, Virginia. So is the pasture with its sturdy wood and wire fence. And there are still cows grazing in the field munching on clover and Queen Anne’s Lace and the native grasses that grow there. But the congregation is no longer there… longer gathering on Sunday morning for the worship service….no longer opening the windows to catch the breeze or to sing the old hymns from the old blue-backed Presbyterian hymnal. After more than two hundred years, the chapel is now as still and quiet as the graves in the cemetery outside.

There has been a church at this site since 1740. Historical records note that there was a log building on the site as early as 1785. The first meetings were held in an old barn owned by Jacob Mauser. The earliest settlers in the area were mostly German and Scotch-Irish who were members of the Reform Church of Europe who worshiped God under the teachings of Martin Luther and John Calvin. In the new world, here in Berryville, the church building was used by both the Lutherans and the Calvinists for the first twenty-five years (25) of its existence.

The first Lutheran minister of record was the Reverend Christian Streit, a Lutheran Revolutionary War chaplain, who served his congregation from 1785 to 1812. Pastor Streit held the first communion at the church on October 30, 1785. How wonderful to consider these early American Christians gathering in a barn….no more than a stable really….to worship and take communion.

The Lutheran congregation knew their church as the Stenkirche Lutheran Church. In 1810, the Lutheran congregation moved to Union Church in Smithfield (now Middleway, West Virginia) but they continued to use the cemetery at Stone’s Chapel throughout the 19th century.

As for the Calvinists, Stone’s Chapel was first mentioned in local Presbyterian records in 1878. Prior to 1853 when the Berryville Presbytery was established, pastors were provided by the Winchester Presbytery. The first pastor for Stone’s Chapel was Reverend J.H.C. Leach who was appointed in 1824. Over the years several more pastors were provided by the Winchester Presbytery. Then in September 1885, the local Berryville pastor agreed to conduct services twice a month at Stone’s Chapel – a morning service on the third Sunday of each month and an afternoon service on the first Sunday of each month. On July 31, 1886, Stone’s Chapel was established as a separate church starting with just fifteen (15) members, eleven (11) of which had transferred over from the Berryville Presbytery.

The chapel was named after Jacob Stone (formerly Stine) who donated land for the church cemetery which has about two hundred marked graves dating back to the 1700’s and includes the graves of at least three Revolutionary War soldiers. The first burial on record was the son of Daniel Hukedom on August 18, 1786. The deed which transferred the property from Jacob and Barbara Stone to the Trustees of the Lutheran and Calvinist Societies was recorded in 1793. Ownership and maintenance of the cemetery was taken over by the Clarke County Cemetery Association in the 1950’s. (Note: the church was also originally called Stine’s Chapel. The name was changed when Jacob Stine anglicized his name to Stone.)

The current building was constructed in 1848. In 1905, it was renovated to add the vestibule tower and the back addition for Sunday School. At that time a new slate roof was added along with stained glass windows, a mahogany pulpit and a pipe organ. (I think maybe what we thought was a choir loft or gallery must have been home to the pipe organ.)

Stone’s Chapel was an active Presbyterian church until it was decommissioned in 2000. The Chapel had its last meeting on Easter Sunday, April 24, 2000.

I had the opportunity to attend this last meeting along with other members of my husband’s family who all traveled up to Berryville to attend that final service with their mother. It was a warm spring day and a lovely way to end more than two centuries of worshipping God there with the local assembly although I have to admit that I was sorely disappointed that the cows didn’t come on over and sing along with us.

Today the church is owned and maintained by the Stone’s Chapel Memorial Association. Donations for the upkeep and preservation of the chapel can be made to:

Stone’s Chapel Memorial Association
Post Office Box 844
Berryville, VA 22611.

  1. Source information for this article was found at .
  2. For information about the Revolutionary War veterans buried at Stone’s Chapel, see .
  3. Other historical information was taken from the Stone’s Chapel Program/Pamphlet handed out for the final service on April 24, 2000.
  4. Stone’s Chapel is located on Crum’s Church Road – Routes 632 and 761 in Clarke County.