The Village Chapel was birthed out of the Watershed Bible Study in 2001. A desire for verse-by-verse Bible teaching and a Sunday evening service was a necessity for our founders, Pastor Jim and Kim Thomas, who were still full-time touring musicians. The first service was held in record label lobby on Music Row, and quickly moved to the Hampton Inn in Green Hills.
In 2003, TVC began to rent space in the St. Bernard Building.
After 3 years of having only the Sunday evening worship service, we had our first morning service on Easter of 2004.
After being the primary tenants for over a decade, we purchased the St. Bernard Building in 2015.
We gathered to plant and dedicate an oak tree on our church property in honor of TVC’s 20th anniversary. Oak trees begin as tiny acorns and grow to be hearty shade trees. They become places to shelter, and grow roots that deepen for generations. We hope that this oak reminds us of God’s continued faithfulness to The Village Chapel in the years to come.
2023 – The Plaza at TVC
Over the past several years, the TVC leadership has been praying, dreaming, and planning for a multi-season outdoor gathering space for adults and a secure play area for our TVC Kids. The designed spaces will help to foster community and “with-ness”, and we are so excited to show you what’s planned!
History of the St. Bernard Building
The historic St. Bernard Building has been home to The Village Chapel for over two decades. The brick and stone building dates back to 1905, but the story is even older.
In 1866, just months after the end of the Civil War, the St. Bernard Academy was founded. Several years later, Mother Mary Xavier chose the nine-acre tract of land on Hillsboro Road, spearheaded the fundraising and oversaw the building of the combination boarding school and convent. Thanks to this tireless nun’s perseverance, the new St. Bernard Academy opened in 1905. Modern for its time, it boasted steam heat, electric lights and telephones. There were classrooms on the first two levels, with dormitories for students and rooms for the nuns and boarding students on the top two floors. Many of the rooms The Village Chapel uses today are still recognizable in old photos from St. Bernard’s early days.
The Chapel where we hold services today was not part of the original building but was added as an addition built in 1924. Originally, the new Chapel included colorful stained glass windows, ornate Carrera marble altarpieces and traditional oak pews.
By the 1980s, school registration was dwindling, and it was announced that the class of 1989 would be the last. The high school was closed and new leadership took over the elementary school, continuing to run St. Bernard Academy outside our back door. In 1990, the sisters, in preparation for their move, removed the stained glass windows, gave the altarpieces to a church in Georgia and sold the pews in a yard sale.
After the Sisters of Mercy relocated, local businessman Charles Jones purchased the St. Bernard property. Businesses moved in, and it seemed St. Bernard’s days as a place of ministry and worship were over. But then, in 2001, a new congregation happened upon the space. With an average weekly attendance of 35-40, The Village Chapel filled only a corner of The Chapel.
Today, The Village Chapel owns the historic property we now call The Offices at Convent Place and leases space to numerous tenants. And while we have no official ties to the Sisters of Mercy, we like to think we’re continuing to live up to the ideals of mercy and Christian service that led to the establishment of St. Bernard’s more than a century after they broke ground on the site.
The Village Chapel is a non-denominational church family that exists to glorify God through the teaching of His word, through heartfelt worship, and by connecting people with opportunities to live lives of real significance, serving God and our neighbors as a local community of faith. We look forward to seeing more worship of God, more lives transformed and more Kingdom living in Hillsboro Village for generations to come!
Edited; Original article by Wendy Lee Nentwig