Cades Cove is the most visited place in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and for good reason. It is a stunningly beautiful island in a sea of mountains and trees. The first settlers of European descent arrived in 1818 and the population grew to 671 by 1850. Driving through the area today it's easy to be distracted by the surroundings and abundance of wildlife and miss the three churches that are in close proximity to each other. Initially there were two congregations: Baptist and Methodist. A split among the Baptists led to the renaming of the initial church as Primitive Baptist and the creation of a new church called Missionary Baptist.
Spending time in the Missionary Baptist and Methodist churches, I was struck by their similarities...and a few differences. I loved the simplicity of each place as they were truly houses of worship. Except for the cross on the front wall of the Methodist church and the small pulpits in each, there was no religious ornamentation present. Simple wooden pews were present in both and the few windows held no stained glass. There were no distractions. The Baptists provided some additional windows for their pastor, while the Methodists opted for a piano. They also provided a constant reminder of our mortality by having the cemetery visible through the windows on the right side of the building. Being a Methodist, I'm reasonably sure casseroles played an important part in the life of the church, but I'm not sure what year that started.
Regardless of your religious affiliation, I highly recommend stopping to visit the churches. They're a great place to reflect on times past and to get away from the pace of our lives in today's world.