Roadside Americana: Another “Smallest Church In America”

Mother Nature has been generous to the Eastern US this year, and on our recent road trip north we passed mile after mile of evidence.

With the car pointed north and approaching the Mason Dixon Line, the landscape changed to a rolling carpet of corn and a sea of soybeans.

The picture-perfect, deep green crops seemed to go on indefinitely, until we saw a knick in the carpet outside Wytheville, Virginia – another “Smallest Church In America.”  We’ve already seen one Smallest Church in Georgia, and when we saw this one, we couldn’t resist stopping.


Wytheville’s Smallest Church is a charmingly simple building, but its biggest asset is the churchyard. The lush grass was meticulously manicured, and the yard was boxed in on three sides by the tallest, greenest, and most luxuriant stalks of corn you’re ever likely to see.


The only break in the riot of greenness was a delightful flower garden holding the corn at bay.


There was brick pathway (with solar lighting of course), leading to a quiet fountain, statuary, and a welcoming swing.


Welcome Sign

Church Interior

The bright interior was cool and pleasant in a knotty pine kind of way, and everything was ready for the next service. Pocket-size New Testament Bibles were available for free in a wall rack, and there was a welcome greeting to the Geocache crowd as well.


We love this place. It’s a church that shows serious devotion, as well as a sense of humor, and we’d love to meet the nice folks who take care of it. If your path winds through this area, do yourself a favor. Get off the interstate and check it out.

Happy Trails,



We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at

21 thoughts

  1. This is indeed very interesting. The congregation must be very small…it is family like…what is the population around this area? How can they afford to hire a pastor with such a small congregation. If there is a pastor it must be a volunteer!

    1. These are good questions Denise, for which I have no definite answers. But one thing is certain. Someone, or some group is very serious about this church. The grounds and church were meticulously maintained, and showed very special attention to details. I suspect that it’s a very small congregation composed primarily of volunteers – a good thing to see in these days of rampant self-interest. ~James

  2. Like being in Corn maze, I followed the links and ended up back in time. I loved this post, not the least of which is that it highlights rural Virginia’s many charms. This reminded me of an old story I heard in conversation between my grandmother and my mother- no doubt heard on Jack Paar’s Tonight show (I did say it was old!)

    (Returning the smile). Enjoy!


    “An English lady, while visiting Switzerland, was looking for a room, and she asked the schoolmaster if he could recommend any to her. He took her to see several rooms, and when everything was settled, the lady returned to her home to make the final preparations to move. When she arrived home, the thought suddenly occurred to her that she had not seen a “W.C.” [water closet, a euphemism for bathroom] around the place. So she immediately wrote a note to the schoolmaster asking him if there were a “W.C.” around. The schoolmaster was a very poor student of English, so he asked the parish priest if he could help in the matter. Together they tired to discover the meaning of the letters “W.C.,” and the only solution they could find for the letters was letters was a Wayside Chapel. The schoolmaster then wrote to the English lady the following note:

    Dear Madam:

    I take great pleasure in informing you that the W.C. is situated nine miles from the house you occupy, in the center of a beautiful grove of pine trees surrounded by lovely grounds. It is capable of holding 229 people and it is open on Sunday and Thursday only. As there are a great number of people and they are expected during the summer months, I would suggest that you come early: although there is plenty of standing room as a rule. You will no doubt be glad to hear that a good number of people bring their lunch and make a day of it. While others who can afford to go by car arrive just in time. I would especially recommend that your ladyship go on Thursday when there is a musical accompaniment. It may interest you to know that my daughter was married in the W.C. and it was there that she met her husband. I can remember the rush there was for seats. There were ten people to a seat ordinarily occupied by one. It was wonderful to see the expression on their faces. The newest attraction is a bell donated by a wealthy resident of the district. It rings every time a person enters. A bazaar is to be held to provide plush seats for all the people, since they feel it is a long felt need. My wife is rather delicate, so she can’t attend regularly. I shall be delighted to reserve the best seat for you if you wish, where you will be seen by all. For the children, there is a special time and place so that they will not disturb the elders. Hoping to have been of service to you, I remain,


    The Schoolmaster.”

    1. Thanks for the very funny story Jonelle. This tiny church was indeed a WC (wayside chapel). And this does sound like a Jack Paar story. In those days, the censors worked overtime and writers had to be clever, instead of racy. ~James

      1. Right you are! (Not that you, Terri, or myself are old enough to remember those days from personal experience- we all got this info 3rd hand!)

        But, since you mentioned it, you might want to read the full story of how, for that very reason – over this story- Jack Paar did walk off the show… It’s here:

        Happy history hunting!

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