Taylor Chapel United Methodist Church
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
10145 Maysville Road - Ft. Wayne, IN 46835
A Brief History of our Heritage
From a small seed, a bloom shall grow.
And indeed that is what happened years ago when a small community of Methodist Episcopalians chose to build a church so that they no longer would need to worship in the confines of their homes, school or even under the trees. That “seed” was Bowers Chapel, was nurtured and it grew into our beautiful present day Taylor Chapel United Methodist Church.
Around 1865, David and Susannah Bowers gave land, on the corner of Wheelock and Stellhorn roads, for a cemetery in which a small frame building was erected known as Bowers Chapel. That building has been gone for many years, but an artist’s concept (a sketch by Rich Hersha) of it hangs in our church narthex. If you visit Bowers Cemetery, you’ll note the names of many who were connected in some familial way to the early members of Bowers Chapel. A small wooded plaque marks it’s location just at the crest of the drive that winds among the headstones.
Farsightedness, faith, prayer and a growing congregation determined the need for a larger church. The “Ladies’ Society of Willing Workers” was formed in 1892 for the purpose of raising money to buy furniture for the church. The ladies also purchased the bronze church bell for $24.00 (as we understand, that bell will become part of a memorial wall to be build on site in the near future). That industrious organization changed its structure and name several times through the years becoming our United Methodist Women who celebrated 100 years of service in 1992.
In 1893, the congregation moved three-quarters of a mile northeast into the new church, Taylor Chapel named for the donors of the land, Arthur and Mary Taylor. The church, measuring 46’ by 28’, was heated by pot-bellied stoves and lighted by coal oil lamps. A basement, coal furnace and Delco lighting system were added in 1920 through remodeling efforts of the men of the church. They organized into the Methodist Men’s group in 1953 becoming a strong and valued group. Through the years, men and women alike added other amenities that modernized the church. More parking became available with the addition of about a quarter of an acre deeded by Bert and Perepa McNett. The parsonage became reality in 1956 when Albert and Bertha Chausse (later to become Mrs. Henry Lantz) provided .96 of an acre for its location.
But the “seed” continued to bloom, growing into our present day church, Taylor Chapel United Methodist Church (by this time, the E.U.B. and the M.E. denominations had combined into the United Methodist Church in 1968). Additional land was obtained through the Chausees for erection of a new Taylor Chapel, and the church held it’s first service on March 15, 1964. What an exciting day that must have been! During the years ahead, the choir grew in numbers; a digital organ was purchased; a weekly preschool took place, and a Boy Scout troop became a part of our ministry.
As more and more of the community became a vital part of Taylor Chapel, more room was needed for Sunday School classes, offices and weekly activities. The educational wing, fellowship hall, kitchen and “new” basement were added in 1980. Reconfiguration of the narthex expanded its area, allowing for additional double glass doors and a hall. Prior to 1980, the fellowship hall and kitchen were wedged into space that is now the library, choir room and office work room. The only offices were those currently located off the small hallway that parallels the sanctuary. The preschool had maintained classes in the “old” basement, and the Sunday School classes met wherever there was an open corner, eventually using a couple of trailers in the parking lot. The new wing was adequate at the time, but we’re again feeling the crunch of needed space.
Taylor Chapel’s structure has not expanded recently, but certainly has changed. Improvements include air-conditioning in most areas; the United Methodist flame and cross outside; outdoor lighting; the Trinity sculpture above the altar; a grand piano; expanded music department; hand bells; play ground equipment; a shed; a beautiful stained lead glass window; additional choir chairs; expanded chancel area, and a state-of-the –art sound system and screen for digital photos. In 1995-96, a renovation program beautified our church by updating many areas with paint; carpeting; upholstered pews; wallpaper, and improved lighting. Church members refreshed the interior from “top to bottom”.
Then in 1998, much of the above remodeling became victim of a tornado that peeled off the sanctuary roof allowing torrents of rain to pour inside. Fast action saved hymnals, Bibles, and musical instruments, but the pews, walls, lighting and carpeting were damaged. In months to come, church friends rallied and gave hours and hours of just plain “grub work” to once more renovate the sanctuary and narthex. Members at that time will well recall the many Sunday and evening services that had to be held in the fellowship hall. We gained added strength and pride in ourselves during those days
Through the physical changes and relocations, Taylor Chapel has always been blessed by the spiritual strength and friendship of its members. The ministry of our many pastors (numbering well over 50 from Bowers Chapel to today) has guided and uplifted us with love and prayers. Together, we will continue to reach out to spread the good news of our Lord, Jesus Christ, be it inside a building or under the trees.