The senior Gamble immigrated to Chattooga County from Ireland in the 1830s and worked with the Sardis volunteer service to spread the gospel throughout the countryside. Norris Gamble said coming together with church members at this time of year helps him to honor that history.
“It makes me appreciate what they had to go through back then,” said Gamble.
There are few, if any, witnesses to as many Christmas celebrations in Floyd County as is the Sardis Presbyterian Church. The church on the Alabama Highway just west of The Narrows was founded in 1836.
The Christmas Open House on Sunday featured history presentations about early churches in the Coosa area and was followed by a communion service led by Reverend Julie Ferguson of Cherokee Presbytery.
The original log and plank building at Sardis, located slightly to the north of the current building, was constructed in 1855. Mary Frances Wilson, an organizer of the Sardis Preservation Society, said that the group has never been able to locate the remnants of the original building.
The founding fathers of the church came from five families, which moved to the area west of Rome from communities that are near Charlotte, N.C. (hence the designation of the North Carolina Militia District, now the North Carolina election precinct).
The church was formally dissolved in 1979 and, 11 years later, the property and building was deeded to the Sardis Preservation Society, which was created for the sole purpose of trying to maintain the integrity of the building.
Wilson said the group worked for about eight years to get the building listed on the National Register of Historic Places in January of 2005.
The initial Christmas Open House took place on the first Saturday and Sunday in December of 1995 and has taken place on that same first weekend in December ever since.
“We’re trying to keep this place alive,” Wilson said.
Aside from the Christmas open house, services take place at the church on the first Sunday of May and first Sunday of October each year. The Emma Sansom Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy has also met at the church on a number of occasions.
Staff writer Brittany Hannah contributed to this report.