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Brett + Basketball = Does Not Compute

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Ten years ago, on July 18th, I fell in the Powell's Chapel Baptist Church parking lot while playing basketball with my VBS students. I broke my ankle initially and fractured both my elbows as I was protecting my face from the oncoming asphalt. While I was in pain, I never uttered any profanity – I sounded like Fred Flintstone, though, when a bowling ball would land on his foot. I was able to walk back, with the help of a few of my kids, to our classroom, but man, I was hurtin’ for certain.

Luckily my wife, Valerie, is a nurse and at our church when the incident occurred, thus she was able to take me to the old hospital off of Highland Avenue here in Murfreesboro. At that time, I have never experienced the pain that I was in, both physically and mentally.

You see, ten years ago, I felt I really didn’t matter to people – I felt I was just another face in the crowd, on the outside looking in, guest #14 when capacity was set at 10, that when it came to me, personally, well, “it doesn’t matter – it’s just Brett . . .” One disappointment followed another disappointment followed by another… and now, the cherry on top, three out of four appendages out of commission. Here I am, teaching God’s Word, and I get this?!?

The world had been dark, but then it seemed only to get darker… until, that is, the next day… During the following afternoon, I had three visitors – Jeff & Eyvonne Haynes and Jennifer Haynes Oliver – three people from my church, all of whom I had become friends with. When they entered my room, I felt so much love for them, I could never put into words - still do ten years later. Jen even took my “after” picture for the upcoming VBS PowerPoint presentation for that night at church, since they had plenty of “before” pictures when I was teaching. While they were there for the birth of Jeff & Eyvonne’s grandson, and Jennifer’s nephew, Eli, I was so very thankful they did stop in to say hi.

The next day, another person from our church stopped by, Tonjia Prewitt, one of the most Godly women I know, and one I have so much respect for. Two other people from my church also stopped by – Bruce and the late Mary Alice Short – but I had already been discharged. I was also visited by Val’s co-workers as well as members of Val’s family during my 48-hour stay. While most of the medical staff were great during my stay there, I was glad to be able to go home, and not have to have surgery on my left ankle.

Val took great care of me when I got home. She set out my meds, made me breakfast, lunch and dinner, checked on me constantly from work, even put up with me watching Star Wars twice in one night.

A few days after I had gotten home, Michelle Hartley, that year’s VBS director, and Jane Lisle, came over with the Youth (the class I was teaching during VBS) during their Wednesday church service to give me a basket full of Starburst candy. Michelle’s husband, Mike, mowed our grass, using the same electric lawnmower we still have today, which he hated. Jeff also stopped by on church business and told me to call him “even if you just want a Coke.” A few days later I got in the mail a get-well card signed by my BMI co-workers, which was a great and warming feeling. While at times we all want to ask and scream “Why me?,” there is a reason for everything, as it is God’s Plan. It took me breaking my body to see I’m not “just Brett” and that medicine ten years ago was the best medicine I could’ve had.

Brett Chafin and his wife Valerie are members of Powell's Chapel Baptist Church. He regularly volunteers as the "sound guy" for the church including during VBS. He has found that running sound is much safer than basketball.

Posted by Brett Chafin with

Celebrating a Century of Service

Powell's Chapel will celebrate its 141st anniversary in July 2016. This is final post in a series of blogs highlighting the rich history of Powell's Chapel and its impact on the local community.

Powell’s Chapel’s centennial celebration took place on July 27, 1975, exactly one hundred years and two days after the first meeting of Powell’s Chapel at the abandoned Shady Grove Methodist Church.

Church member Eleanor Dowdy remembered that the day was very hot. “We all tried to dress in period dress, like long dresses and hats. I remember I wore a long dress and a big picture hat and it was really a big to-do.” 

The church hosted a dinner for past pastors, their wives, and the local clergy on Saturday and a dinner on the grounds on Sunday. Mary Alice Short served on the food committee and recalled feeding almost five hundred people on Sunday without a kitchen on site. The women of the church brought the food with them. So many people attended that all the windows were opened and chairs set outside around the sanctuary so people could hear the proceedings. Even the choir loft was overcrowded that day. Both Mary Alice and her son Gerry Short laughingly told the legendary story that Mary Alice’s younger son Duane tumbled out of the choir loft and landed outside in the hall when his folding chair got too close to the edge. The church and community enjoyed celebrating a century of successes.

The Centennial Celebration marked the end of a great era for the church and a turning point for the community. Powell’s Chapel Baptist Church ended its first hundred years with 314 members. It owned property worth $90,000 including the church building and pastorium. One hundred forty-seven people were enrolled in Sunday School and 106 in Church Training. The church maintained active Women’s Missionary Union and Brotherhood programs along with a growing music program. It closed the year by forming a long-range planning committee to move toward the future.

In 1975, the congregation of Powell’s Chapel celebrated the milestones of one hundred years as a beacon in the rural community in northern Rutherford County. While the people of the church focused on the nostalgic aspects of the centennial by dressing in old-fashioned clothing and telling stories of beloved members who passed away, the century they celebrated included many significant accomplishments for the church that transformed Powell’s Chapel from a group of ten individual Baptists looking for a meeting place into a vibrant congregation that served as a leader in the local community.


Posted by Bethany Hawkins with