The Church of God of the Union Assembly at Dooley’s Chapel is believed to have been dedicated on September 21, 1947. The land for the first church was donated by Fred and Dora Emert. The first church was built by a group of people from the community that wanted a local church to attend. The old church was a block building with a wood stove for heat and handheld fans for air. There was no water or inside bathrooms. Brother G.E. Wiggs was sent by the Assembly, along with Brother T.R. McEntyre, to set the church in order and ordain Brothers Leslie Moody and Claude West to the office of a deacon. Brother G.E. Wiggs was the first Pastor, and Sister Elizabeth Buffalo was the first Secretary.
Brother Olan Brewer was the Pastor at a church nearby known as Hudson Grove. Shortly after the church at Dooley's Chapel was built, a large group of members from Hudson Grove took up fellowship with the church at Dooley's Chapel. This was a time of transition for the church. Brother Olan Brewer was made Pastor under the guidance and direction of Brother G.E. Wiggs. Brother Wiggs continued to serve as Pastor at our sister church in Knoxville.
The new church was built under the direction of Brother Jack Giles in 1967. The first service was held in the new sanctuary on November 5, 1967. It was later dedicated by Brother Jesse F. Pratt on December 3, 1967. Brother Jay Shelton built the altar for the new sanctuary. Unlike the first church, this building had indoor plumbing, running water, electrical outlets, and wooden floors. With the addition of a dining hall in 1970 and central heat and air a few years later, the church thrived for several more years.
In the 1990s, there were two remodeling projects that consisted of cosmetic changes. The first renovation consisted of casing in the stained glass windows in the entryway, repainting the walls, and replacing the altar. The dining hall was connected to the main building with an entranceway. The second renovation began in 1994. During this renovation, the dark paneled walls were painted, the carpet was replaced, the lighting fixtures and pews were replaced, and the gravel drive was blacktopped. The name was changed to Claxton in the 90s to represent the community. Many in the community and our Assembly still fondly refer to the church as Dooley's Chapel.
In 2002, the church was blessed to purchase property adjoining the church. This consisted of two houses beside the church sitting on approximately two acres. For several years, the two houses were rented for additional income to the church.
2004 and 2005 saw high attendance and membership growth for the church. Through God's grace, over 80 members were added to the church in just two years. The church leaders had been considering the need to build a new church for several years. Since all avenues in that direction had been exhausted, the church felt it was time to begin a major renovation of the current church building. Under the guidance of Pastor Jerry Cassell, we set forth a five-year plan. Within five years, we hoped to renovate the current sanctuary, brick the exterior of the building, expand the parking lot, construct a fellowship hall, and install a baptistery and a handicap entrance to the church.
Cosmetic changes, such as padded benches, new carpeting, and new paint had been made over the years. However, no major structural work had been done in the sanctuary since it was built in 1967. There was a lot of work to be done. The subfloor on the rostrum was replaced. The walls were sheet rocked and the benches reupholstered. A new heating and air unit, light fixtures, carpeting, and ceramic tile were installed. Brother Charlie T. Pratt III dedicated the new sanctuary on November 20, 2005.
After the 2005 renovation, it soon became clear that additional parking was needed. The house directly beside the church was demolished in order to expand the parking lot in 2006.
Considering the growth to attendance and membership, the church needed an updated facility for fellowship. In 2007, the church added over 1,700 square feet creating a Fellowship Hall. The Fellowship Hall can boast of many modern amenities, including a soda machine, a steam table, and a 46" flat screen, high definition television. The old Dining Hall was remodeled to house two Sunday School classrooms and a new baptistery. A handicap entrance to the sanctuary was also added. The exterior of the building was bricked.
Late 2008, the church began discussing the need for additional seating in the sanctuary. In 2009, the church began yet another addition. Approximately 800 square feet was added to the front of the building creating additional seating in the sanctuary. The additional square footage also allowed for a much larger foyer and restrooms. The exterior was also updated with a steeple, sidewalks, porch, and landscaping. Brother Charlie T. Pratt III dedicated the expanded sanctuary on August 23, 2009.