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 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).