Prior to the Civil War, a log church was built for worshiping and schooling. The site of the church is now beneath Interstate 77 on Wolf Creek just past the Conrad Tuggle home. During the Civil War, the building was used as a clinic for wounded soldiers. The Northern armies came out of Princeton, W.V. across the mountain and passed through Rocky Gap. The citizens of Rocky Gap who were not in service knew that they were coming and they did not want the Yankees to get their supplies that they had in the church. Because of this, the citizens burned the church.
In 1887, the citizens of the community decided to build the one room frame building which is located on the Raleigh-Grayson Turnpike, better known as the Camp Road, which was the main road through Rocky Gap at that time. The land was donated by J.D. and Annie Honaker. The deed for the land was dated August 30, 1908. The church was used prior to this time, but the deed could not go into effect until the land was completely paid for. The church was named Honaker Chapel.
Four denominations worshiped here. They were the Methodists, the Baptists, the Presbyterians, and the Lutherans. The Methodists, however, owned the land. It was referred to as a "union" church. Each Sunday of the month a paster from each of the four denominations held the worship service. Anyone from the four denominations was welcome to attend. Sunday School began at the church sometime prior to 1923. The Sunday School was not divided by denomination.
The structure of the church consisted of only one room with a big potbelly stove in the middle of it and oil lamps on the walls. A porch was added on sometime afterwards. Organizations in the church included the Epworth League (youth organization) and the women's organization. There was also the Laymen's Club.
The most famous event held at the church appears to be the quarterly Conference meeting in the summer. There was about 150 to 200 people who attended this event The Conference lasted for two days; Saturday they held the business part and Sunday, the worship service and dinner. It seems that the dinner is what everyone remembers. It was referred to in those days as dinner on the ground. The food was spread out on blankets to the right and left of a walkway. The reason for this being that there just wasn't enough room in the church to have a dinner this big. Most of the people came only for Sunday. They would arrive early in the morning. Most had to walk, some had buggies or wagons, and others asked somebody to bring them. It was a great day for fellowship. The people of those days did not have many forms of amusement. This is why everyone looked forward to the day so much.
In 1957, the Methodists decided that they wanted to move out and build their own church. The congregation had just grown too big. In 1958 when the Methodists moved out, the Baptists decided they also wanted their own church. The Baptists approached the Methodists about buying it from them, and the building was then sold to the Baptists for the sum of 600 dollars.
The Baptist women continued their organization. There was also a Laymen's Revival and singings, referred to as 5th Sunday singings. An organized youth function was held at the church. A members who had not been presently attending came to church. The meal was then held inside the church. Additions had been made to the church sometime after the Baptist bought it Sunday school rooms were added along with a kitchen and rest rooms. A furnace was also added.
The last worship service was held in the church around 1992. The Baptists felt led to close the doors of the church then. The attendance was down and financially, they could no longer keep the doors open.
In the fall of 1993, the Bland County School Board started looking closely at the prospect of buying the church from the Baptists. Sometime prior to 1993, in 1989 or '90, an agreement had been signed stating that if the church property came up for sale that the school board would make every attempt to purchase it. The price that was negotiated was 12,000 dollars. This included the building, land, and various items in the church such as the pews and the piano. At the November 22nd meeting, the purchasing was temporarily scotched. At the next meeting, the Bland County School Board voted unanimously to recommend the purchase.
The purchase had now been made. The building is used as an auditorium for the MACC (Mountain Academic Conference Competition) matches. There are also plans to use the building for assemblies, PTA meetings and other community purposes.
Honaker Church has a long and interesting history. It served it's purpose well as a church, but the time came to close its doors. It is now benefiting the students of Rocky Gap High School. In my opinion, the purchase of the church was a great investment.
*Note : The Honaker Church building is now also the home of the Bland County History Archives.
Holly Boone class of 1995
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