UNION CHAPEL UNITED BRETHREN CHURCH 

 

Sketch by Artist Rozella Z. Hinton

 

Written about 1958

 

Union Chapel United Brethren Church, north of Fort Wayne on Route 27, was built about 1858, almost 100 years ago.  Present members remember hearing their parents tell of the building of the church “in a neighborly fashion,” with men of the community erecting the structure out of the plentiful timber then at hand.

 

It is believed the church was built originally with just a few steps leading to its door, but later a long porch was added along the entire width to aid members in mounting and dismounting from the buggies.  The porch was removed, however, in 1910, and the belfry put in its place.

 

The land for the church was granted originally by HENRY BOWSER.  Later, when the United Brethren Church was torn with a division within the church, his widow, MRS. MARGARET BOWSER, deeded the ground to the United Brethren Church (Old Constitution) lest the other faction of the church might claim Union Chapel.  It was in January, 1927, that the church first installed electric lights, and later that year received the pulpit and pews from the Mayhew Chapel, which had been closed.  The Church boasts a fine painting entitled “Come Unto Me” painted by ELLA BELLINGER, and dedicated at Christmas, 1929.

 

Union Chapel is not a large church, but it has been well attended throughout the years, and has been a thriving country church.  It is a part of the North Ohio Conference of the United Brethren in Christ Church (Constitution of 1841), and for many years was a part of the Maysville Circuit, but more recently has been part of the Hopewell Circuit, associated with the Hopewell and South Scipio Churches.  The pastors who have served since about 1900 include the Revs.

            WARFIELD

            SEIPLE

            CUNNINGHAM

            HARRY CLARK

            WILLIAM MASTERS

            CHARLES KNAPP

            HARRY SCHREFFLER

            FRANK DENTAL

            U. S. WERTENBERGER

            WALTER W. THROOP

            LEWIS REGILMAN

            V. M. KELLER

            CLINTON ANDERSON

            J. RALPH PFISTER

            O. S. ROCHTE

            F. F. SUTER

            H. J. STAHL

            ROBERT HERSHA

            S. D. PETIT

            M. B. KNISEL.

The REV. RAYMOND WALDFOLGEL is the present pastor. 

 

Today the church is situated in the midst of a thriving community, with new housing districts being built near by.  The church is facing a new challenge and is endeavoring to meet it effectively by providing a building fund in order to improve upon the facilities now at hand and to better meet the needs of this growing community.  This past year the church conducted its first Bible School, which proved to be very successful.  The church has preaching service each Sunday, alternating between morning and evening, Sunday School each Sunday morning at 9:30 o’clock and Christian Endeavor at 7 p.m.  The Rev. Waldfogel will be attending Camp Meeting and Conference through August 22.

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PASTORS OF THE UNION CHAPEL UNITED BRETHREN CHURCH

 

1862                 G. W. Steward

1863                 G. W. Steward

1864                 J. L. Thomas

1865                 E. Miller

1867                 J. W. Martin

1868                 G. S. Tuttle

1869-1871         Pastors unknown

1872                 J. K. Alwood (wrote the hymn “Unclouded Day”

1873                 S. Northland

1874                 S. W. Redman

1875-1882         Pastors unknown

1883                 J. D. Snyder

1884                 S. P. Klotz

1885                 G. W. Dinius

1886                 A. E. Gaff

1888                 A. H. Tussing

1889-1894         Years missing

1895                 E. C. Mason

1896                 E. C. Mason

1897-1902         Years missing

1903-1905         Daniel Clark

1906                 G. S. Seiple

1907                 F. G. Hall

1908-1910         V. H. Clark

1913-1915         Willaim Maters

1915                 Strager and Shroeffler

1916                 C. L. Knapp

1917-1920         F. A. Dentel

1920-1922         U. S. Wertenbarger, assisted by his wife

1922                 Walter Throop

1923                 Lesis Regelman

1924                 V. M. Keller

1925-1927         Clinton Anderson

1927                 J. R. Pfister, 1st quarter, and Clinton Anderson

1928-1932         L. S. Rochte

1932-1938         F. F. Suter

1938-1940         Walter W. Throop 

1940-1942         Harvey J. Stahl

1942-1945         Robert Hersha

1945-1947         S. Duane Pettit

1947-1953         M. B. Kinsel

1953-1955         Raymond Waldfogel

1955-1958         Willis Lechleidner

1958-1967         Robert Staup

1967-1976         Frank D. Winterhalter

1976-1979         Gary Graham

1979-1983         Frank D. Winterhalter

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UNION CHAPEL, THE BEGINNING

 

In the year 1856 a Seminary, Perry Center Academy, was built near the center of Perry Township.  It was in this school our church first met and was organized.  The issue that was debated at the time that Union Chapel became a church was the “Depravity of Man”.  The people who got together to form the church embraced the issue and felt that man was totally lost as a result of the “Fall of man in the Garden of Eden.”  Thus they saw the necessity of man having a personal Savior.  People saw the need for repentance of sin and the forsaking of sin as the result of receiving the Savior.   (Perry Center Seminary was a school that had been built by several of the leading pioneers of Perry Township and educated many of the adults of the community until about the time of the Civil War.   You can read about the Perry Center School under SCHOOLS.)

 

The Union Chapel United Brethren Church was built in 1858.  When the church was founded we were in the Michigan Conference until 1862.  The first session of the North Ohio Conference was held in 1862.  Present members remember hearing their parents tell of the building of the church in a neighborly fashion, with the men of the community erecting the structure out of the plentiful timber then at hand.

 

The church was on the Maysville Circuit with churches in Maysville, Hopewell, Union Chapel, Mayhew, and Cedarville.  The circuit dissolved in 1910.  A new circuit was formed and became the Hopewell Circuit, which included Hopewell, South Scipio and Union Chapel.  It remained until 1955.  South Scipio was not added until 1932.  South Scipio is East of Harlan, IN.  A Revival in the year of 1904 yielded 69 conversions and 48 members joined the church on the circuit.

 

It is believed the church was built originally with just a few steps leading to its door, but later a long porch was added along the entire width to aid the members in mounting and dismounting from the buggies.  The porch was removed, however, in 1910, and the vestibule and belfry were added under the pastorage of REV. SAMUEL CUNNINGHAM.  

 

The land for the church was given originally by HENRY BOWSER.  Later in 1892 this acre of land in Section 27, Coldwater Road, was deeded to the United Brethren in Christ Church by MARGARET BOWSER.  It was in January 1927 that the church first installed electric lights, and later that year received the pulpit and pews from the Mayhew Church which had been closed.  These were transported by teams and hayracks by DELMAR TONKEL and CHARLES STEAGER with the help of the pastor, REV. CLINTON ANDERSON.  These same pews and pulpit, refinished by the women of the congregation, were moved into the first new addition of the present building, and some are still used within the church.

 

In 1900 the Church participated in the joint efforts to establish a camp site at Hillsdale, MI.  All Conference churches participated.  In the year 1906 North Ohio Conference experienced 631 conversions and 288 Reclaims.  Also in 1906 SISTER FLAVA GERBER received her Annual Conference license to preach. 

 

In 1918 a Quarterly Conference license to preach was granted to ARTHUR L. CUSTER.  In 1920 a Quarterly Conference license was granted to U. S. WERTENBARGER’s wife, CELIA, to preach the Gospel.  U. S. was a pastor at the time.  In 1933 LAWRENCE RODENBECK was granted a license to preach.  He has served faithfully in the North Ohio Conference as a pastor for 48 years.  He is presently serving the Kunkle U. B. Church in Kunkle, Ohio.

 

The Union Chapel Christian Endeavor Union started in 1924 and continued through 1976.  It was for many years led by MISSES HAZEL and JOY STEAGER.  They were both quite active in the World Christian Endeavor Union.  They traveled to many of the C. E. Conven-tions in this country and abroad.

 

In the year 1929, MRS. ELLA BELLINGER, a member of the congregation, now deceased, painted and presented to the church an oil painting entitled “Come Unto Me” which now hangs in the foyer of the present structure.

 

The church was re-roofed in 1937 and re-sided in 1939.  In 1949 the pot-bellied stoves were replaced by an oil furnace. 

 

The pastor, M. B. KNISEL, and some of the congregation, seeing the great need for better facilities, started a building fund in the year 1951. 

 

The Hopewell and South Scipio Churches each requested to be made a station.  The circuit was dissolved in 1955 and each church assigned a pastor.  We shared pastors with South Scipio until 1967 at which time we received our first full-time pastor, FRANK D. WINTER-HALTER. 

 

In November 1961, the four lots south of the original acre were purchased as the site on which to erect our new church and future parsonage.

 

Ground was broken for the new Union Chapel Church building on April 8, 1962 with church trustees ROY FAYLOR, Chairman, CLYDE SPANGLER, FRANCIS HECK, DORA TONKEL, and AMBER STEAGER, Class leader, JOY STEAGER, Sunday School Superintendent, VAYNE VANBUSKIRK, and Pastor REV. ROBERT STAUP, each taking a turn with the shovel. 

 

Excavation begain April 16 with EVERETT FAYLOR doing the work.  MCCOMB CONSTRUCTION COMPANY poured footings and basement walls the week of April 23rd.  June 4, CARMAN KUSTER and SONS, Camden, MI, started the construction. 

 

The first service in the new building was held October 21st, after a March-in Ceremony from the old church to the new.  The new Union Chapel was dedicated February 10, 1963 with BISHOP CLYDE W. MEADOWS leading in the dedication.  FRANCIS HECK, one of the church trustees, dismantled the old church building. 

 

On March 28, 1971, an annex was dedicated, housing a nursery, 10 classrooms, a kitchen, fellowship hall, pastor’s study and an office.  The Sanctuary’s seating capacity was increased by 50%.  The building was converted from a contemporary design to an Early American style to blend in with the new Christian Education unit.  The entire structure was re-sided with a brick design.  Bishop DUANE REAHM was the speaker for the dedication ceremony.

 

Union Chapel….more about

 

HISTORY TELLS US:

 

The heritage of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ is rooted in the “Great Awakening” which swept across the American Colonies just prior to the Revolutionary War.

 

The spiritual needs of the thousands of immigrants pouring into the new world were unanswered by the established practices of their native churches in Europe.  An expanding frontier gave birth to a new manifestation of Christian faith with a strong emphasis upon the validity and authority of the Bible, the power of prayer, salvation through faith and personal experience, and the living of a vital Christian life.

 

One of the earliest denominations to be formed out of this revival movement was the Church of the United Brethren in Christ.  Upon the foundation of this heritage, the church stands today as a strong voice of Evangelical Christianity.

 

In 1858 the people got together in a neighborly fashion and erected the first church which lasted for over 100 years.  It was built out of native timber, on the corner of Union Chapel and Coldwater Roads. 

 

The area people remembered for years the Sunday School picnic that Union Chapel had.  They were usually set for the first Saturday in August.  They were held in a grove of trees a half mile east of the church on Union Chapel Road. 

 

After many years the congregation had a decision to make.  The rural population was dwindling.  The church building was weak and needed replacing.  At that time much help was needed.  The North Ohio Conference decided the church could stay in the community.  They helped the church to gain a second breath.  The church began to build a new structure.  That church was dedicated on February 10, 1963 by BISHOP CLYDE W. MEADOWS.  It was a great day when the people entered to worship for the first time.  There was running water, bathroom facilities, no pot-belly stoves or oil burners.  The great thing was, there was classroom space and room to park the cars.  REV. ROBERT STAUP was the pastor during this project. 

 

In 1967 the church launched out on another faith venture.  It decided to become a fulltime church by having a fulltime pastor.  REV. and MRS. FRANK WINTERHALTER were chosen to pastor the congregation. 

 

In 1971 an Annex was added which doubled the sanctuary seating space and added more classroom space and fellowship hall.

 

Added facts about Union Chapel Church as written by a former pastor, Rev. Frank Winterhalter, as he remembers:

 

The front of the church was facing Coldwater Road and very close to it.

 

The church sat right on the corner.

 

A cement slab and some steps led up to the front door.

 

Perhaps room for 2 to 4 cars to park in front.

 

There was more parking room along the south side of the church.

 

The church was also close to Union Chapel Road

 

The church was heated by a wood burning pot bellied stove which stood in the middle of the  

church. One of the laymen would come every Sunday morning to fill up the stove. 

 

At times the stove would get so hot that the old log supports became overheated and would

smolder from the heat.  It was only by the grace of God that the church did not burn down.  I understand when they tore the old building down they were amazed at how many times the church might have been near breaking into a blaze. 

 

Rev. Frank Winterhalter, a beloved pastor to many, passed away January 9, 2006.   He will be missed by all who knew him.