It was 1949, and President Harry S. Truman labeled his administration the “Fair Deal.” Shortly afterwards, he increased the minimum wage from 40cents to 75 cents per hour. The Lone Ranger premiered on ABC-TV, and evangelist Billy Graham began his ministry. The USAF Lucky Lady II (B-50 Superfortress) completed the first non stop around-the-world flight in Ft. Worth, Texas, as “South Pacific” was opening at the Majestic Theater in New York City. Joe Louis retired as the heavy weight boxing champion of the world and RCA introduced the first 45 RPM record.
And just about the time the doors opened for the first time on the 200” Hale telescope at Palomar Observatory in California, revealing a vast, expanding universe, between 75 and 100 people were meeting underneath a star studded sky at a small outdoor movie theater in Wimberley, Texas, called the Corral Theater. It was the only place in town that could accommodate such a large group, as the gathering represented approximately one third of the local population.
The meeting was arranged to discuss the possibility of forming a community church composed of people from many different Christian denominations who would worship together in love and harmony, honoring each person‘s theological background but putting the major emphasis of the church on loving and serving God. It was a noble concept.
Various ideas were offered and considered, but as the evening progressed it became apparent that no consensus would be reached. People became tired and disgruntled. Disagreements began to surface. One by one, folks started to leave.
Roy and Bee Avey, owners of the Corral Theater, had provided the Christian music played during the gathering; and as people began to walk away, Parks Johnson, one of the organizers, asked Roy to quickly put another record on the turntable. Reaching blindly in the dark, Roy placed the first record his hand touched on the turntable, and suddenly the strains of “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” filled the night air. People started retracing their steps, rejoined the assembly, and focused on creating the Wimberley Community Church. The name was changed in 1959 to Chapel in the Hills.
The first worship service, representing seven Protestant denominations, was held on September 25, 1949 in a small building on the Wimberley Square. To this day, “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” is sung at the conclusion of each worship service and church meeting as members recommit themselves to the values of unity, harmony and love established by the founders.
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Let Us Build A Great Church
Beautiful is a LARGE church,
With stately arch and steeple;
Neighborly is the SMALL church
With groups of friendly people;
Reverent is the OLD church,
With centuries of grace;
And a WOODEN church or a STONE church,
Can hold an altar place;
And whether it be a RICH church,
Or a POOR church anywhere,
Truly it is a GREAT church,
If God is worshipped there.