Big Canoe® Chapel describes itself as a "multi-denominational" congregation, rather than "non-denominational", and is proud to have people of a variety of faith traditions among their membership.
As originally constructed, Big Canoe®Chapel seated 135. Awnings on the outside decks allowed for outside seating when the weather permitted. Within 5 years, outside seats became increasingly necessary to accommodate Sunday morning worshippers. In 1988, a plan was implemented to move the front wall back and to add transepts on each side of the altar. The enlargement was completed in time for Christmas Eve 1988. The Chapel now seats a maximum of 350.
In 1989, construction of the Broyles Community Center began. Decking connected the new center to the Chapel. The completed facility was dedicated on November 19, 1989.
In 1997, it was evident that the Broyles Center needed expanding to meet growing needs of the Chapel office, Sunday school, kitchen, offices for the Chaplains and storage. Construction began in late 1997 and on June 14, 1998, the enlarged facility was open for touring and a reception. The original building was 9,000 square feet and the expansion added 5,975 square feet.
The Chapel bell has always been a welcoming sound at Big Canoe®; however, over the years vibrations of the heavy bell damaged the roof. (The bell rings at noon and 6:00 p.m. daily and after weddings and other special services.) A solution was found and implemented in the form of our beautiful bell tower constructed in 1993-1994 to house the beloved bell.
In 1989 Big Canoe®Company donated to the Chapel approximately 11 acres, with the stipulation that the property would be developed for church or community purposes. By the end of 2000, the Terraces and the Scout Hut were built on the gifted property. After a vision statement was written, the Big Canoe®Chapel Cemetery and Memorial Wall (Cemetery began in 1984), the Robert B. Platt Botanical Garden (donated to the Chapel in 1994) and a walking trail and the gifted property all became part of a contiguous area called Meditation Park. Upon Dr. Jimmy Allen's retirement, the park was renamed as The Jimmy R. Allen Meditation Park.
Big Canoe®Chapel supports over 70 programs and organizations here and around the world to help improve the human condition. The Chapel touches lives through 4 world wide organizations, missions and ministries in 8 countries, organizations in 5 U.S. States, and 14 Georgia cities. At home, we're reaching out to over 30 organizations in Dawson and Pickens Counties.
The Big Canoe®Chapel is considered by many the heart of Big Canoe®. Original developer, Tom Cousins, envisioned a church, and donated six acres of land and recruited Dr. Vernon Broyles who had just retired from North Ave. Presbyterian Church in Atlanta. A set of plans was drawn for the little Chapel and put out for bid. The low bid was $155,000.00 in 1975. Dr. Broyles set it up that 50% of its income would go to the benevolent fund. It is still that way to this day. This fund reaches families in need not only in Pickens and Dawson counties, but communities throughout the world.