O'Kelly Chapel record books - 1857-1924 and 1941-1953

General information
This page provides links to the digitized pages and typed transcriptions of the two record books from the O’Kelly Chapel in Chatham County, NC.

Details about James O’Kelly, the O’Kelly Chapel, and the O’Kelly Monument on the campus of Elon University are below.

The original record books have been cataloged and can be found in the Archives and Special Collections at Belk Library and online through the links below. The dates represented are 1857-1924 and 1941-1953.

To access the O'Kelly record books online, follow this link.

  James O'Kelly

  James O'Kelly
James O’Kelly was born in Mecklenburg County, Virginia sometime between the years of 1735 and 1738. His exact birth date is not known. On June 25, 1759 he married Elizabeth Meeks and they had two children together. O’Kelly embraced the followers of John Wesley in 1774 and became a licensed lay minister in 1775. O’Kelly was in North Carolina during the Revolutionary War and was enlisted in the Colonial Army. From 1775 – 1792 he was a presiding elder of the Methodist Episcopal Church. O’Kelly broke away from the Methodists in 1792 and a year later, he and his followers formed the Christian Church. In December of 1793 they began to call themselves the Republic Methodists or “Okellyites.” In a meeting on August 4, 1794, they adopted the name ‘Christians’. James O’Kelly passed away on October 16, 1826. The establishment of the Christian Church in 1794, by James O’Kelly and his followers, paved the way for institutions of higher education to be created with a Christian association, such as Elon College. His legacy in establishing the Christian Church in the South continues to live on through his letters, essays, and other publications long after his death.

Click here to view the James O'Kelly finding aid (best viewed using the Internet Explorer browser).

O'Kelly Chapel

  O'Kelly Chapel
The O'Kelly Chapel was built in 1794 in Chatham County, North Carolina. James O’Kelly and his followers built the chapel following their separation from the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1792. The Chapel is recognized as the first congregation of the ‘Christian Churches’, which came together in 1856 as the Southern Christian Convention. Currently, its association is with the United Church of Christ.

 

  O'Kelly Monument
The O’Kelly Memorial Marker, named after the founder of the Christian Church James O’Kelly, was unveiled on the campus of Elon College on October 16, 1929. The ceremony began at 10:00 a.m. with a dedication in Whitley Auditorium and the president of Elon at the time, William Allen Harper, presided over the ceremony. This monument helps mark Elon’s longstanding history with the Christian Church. Currently the monument is located in the courtyard between the Alamance and Long buildings on the college’s campus. It is approximately ten feet high and composed of Winnsboro granite. It has two slender columns rising from a stone base and joined together by a granite slab. Originally, there was an urn in the open center but it has been replaced by a cross.

  O'Kelly Monument

 

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