The smallest church in America isn’t even as big as most storage units. But when it comes to communing with divinity, size really doesn’t matter.
Many modern places of worship are larger than some office buildings. But this tiny chapel in Georgia stands strong, despite a few struggles.
The story of Christ’s Chapel and its rise from near destruction may surprise you.
About Christ’s Chapel, the Smallest Church in the USA
Located 40 minutes south of Savannah, Georgia, Christ’s Chapel is a popular tourist attraction. Thousands of travelers every year stop to visit this tiny house of worship. It measures 10 x 15 feet and holds up to 13 people, including the minister.
Built in 1949 by Agnes Harper, a local grocer, it’s literally Christ’s church as Harper deeded it to Jesus Christ. Harper built the chapel herself, despite community members telling her it wouldn’t do justice to God.
While Agnes didn’t have much money, she did have a passionate dream to build a sanctuary for weary travelers. And that’s exactly what she created.
Local resident, Dorrah Simmons, said, “Every time you come, there are people from all over the world here. We sing and we pray and we fellowship with one another.”
The space is only big enough for three rows of pews and a pulpit. Twelve worshippers and a minister can be within the chapel at one time.
Christ’s Chapel has competition for the title of the smallest church in the USA. While Cross Island Chapel in Oneida, New York, measures 6 x 3 feet, it’s only accessible upon request. Not to mention, only three people can fit inside together.
Another reason people stop at Christ’s Chapel is for the geocaching that takes place on the grounds. Geocaching is essentially a game of hide and seek played worldwide. People place items in public locations and post the GPS coordinates for others to find.
Christ’s Chapel holds non-denominational services on the third Sunday of every month. If you’re so inclined, you can plan your vacation to coordinate with one of their monthly gatherings.
Pro Tip: Wondering if you can camp at Christ’s Chapel? We uncovered Can You Park Your RV Overnight at Churches?
Where is Christ’s Chapel?
Situated along the side of US Highway 17, you’ll see the sign indicating the location of “The smallest church in America” in Townsend, Georgia. The church is just a five-minute drive from I-95. Therefore, it’s a quick stop if you happen to be traveling near Savannah.
Parking is available for cars, trucks, and most vans. Christ’s Chapel is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is wheelchair accessible.
The Smallest Church Destroyed in Fire
Unfortunately, just after midnight on November 28, 2015, the smallest church in America was the victim of arson. The fire destroyed nearly every inch of the chapel, leaving only the cross and belfry primarily unharmed.
However, residents in the surrounding area immediately started collecting money to help rebuild this tiny chapel. Many considered it to be a landmark and part of the community.
Sam Clark, the church’s caretaker, said, “There was never any question about whether or not it would be rebuilt.”
Reconstruction of Christ’s Chapel took 18 months and many volunteer hours. The material used to build the new church mainly came through donations. However, some parts of the original structure were salvaged.
The rebuilding of the smallest church in America finished the weekend before Easter Sunday in 2017. A rededication ceremony held that Saturday included more than 30 people. Over half the attendees stood on the grass just outside the chapel doors.
The fire wasn’t the first struggle Christ’s Chapel faced. In 1983, bankruptcy nearly shut the doors of the church. But the local McIntosh County Chamber of Commerce decided to adopt the tiny chapel and offered financial assistance as needed.
The saying, “It takes a village,” comes to mind when seeing how the local community pulled together twice to save this tiny church.
Best Hikes Near the Smallest Church in the USA
You may consider including a visit to the smallest church in America on a weekend trip to the Savannah area. More recreation activities are available the closer you get to this charming southern city.
Harris Neck Airport Trail
Located 12 miles from Christ’s Chapel, you could easily plan a trip to the church and hike this trail all in one day. Used by hikers and mountain bikers, this nearly flat 5-mile loop trail is part of the Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge.
Bird watchers will love this area as there is plenty to see here. So bring your binoculars! Additionally, armadillos are common here! Plus, alligators can be seen along the Blackbeard Creek portion of the trail.
Dogs aren’t allowed on the trail, which is probably for the best, considering the alligators.
Green Creek Trail
Closer to Savannah is this flat, paved 2.3-mile trail. Suitable for all skill levels, strollers, and wheelchairs, the whole family can enjoy this bit of nature together. Even dogs can join in the fun.
Bring your binoculars to view the many bird species found in this area. If visiting in the Spring or Summer, you’ll likely catch glimpses of butterflies during your walk.
Best Camping Near the Smallest Church in the USA
Savannah South KOA
This campground is about 30 minutes north of Christ’s Chapel and the same distance south of Savannah. Located on US Hwy 17, it’s on the same road as the tiny church in Townsend.
The 35-acre pond inside the campground is a great place to fish and watch herons, swans, and egrets. You won’t need a fishing license to pull fish from the water.
Suitable for RVs up to 70 feet long, each campsite includes 30 and 50-Amp electric, water, and sewer hookups. The sites run about $50 per night.
Fort McAllister State Park
Located in Richmond Hill, Georgia, this State Park is a 30-minute drive from America’s smallest church and about 50 minutes from Savannah. You’ll find plenty to do while camping here. Miles of hiking and biking trails are available throughout the park.
The 67 campsites have either 30 or 50-Amp electric and water hookups. A dump station is available on-site. RVs and trailers up to 50 feet can easily find a spot in one of their spacious sites. Rates range from $33 to $42 per night.
Pro Tip: Spend an evening at one of these 7 Charming Savannah GA Campgrounds.
Is a Road Trip to Visit the Smallest Church in the USA Worth It?
A road trip to America’s smallest church could be part of a weekend trip to the Savannah area. You won’t lack things to do for the entire family to enjoy.
Whether it’s for the historical appeal, geocaching, or a place to rest, we think you’ll enjoy visiting this tiny church.
Have you visited Christ’s Chapel? Let us know in the comments.
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