The History of Lewis Chapel

Memorial window honoring the founders of the Lewis Memorial Chapel congregation

Memorial window honoring the founders of the Lewis Memorial Chapel congregation

 

The written records of the congregation of Lewis Chapel prior to the building of the first church in 1862-63 were lost in the fire which destroyed that building.

However, historical records, including that of St. Louis County and the Methodist Church in Missouri, provide information about its early years.  In 1807 The Rev. John Travis was assigned to the Missourie Circuit” and through his work a “class” led by the Martrom Lewis family was established in this area. Later records show the class to which the Lewis family belonged was known as the Hamilton Class.  Writers of Methodist history note that “Reverend John Travis, with William McKendree, Presiding Elder, held a quarterly conference in 1807 at the spot where Lewis Chapel now stands.” There is historical evidence that the Hamilton Class continued to report to the Quarterly Conferences, either at Manchester or to the Union Circuit in Franklin County between 1837 and 1859.   Reverend E. E. Burton, living in Manchester in 1939, connected the Lewis family with this Hamilton Class through the minutes of a Quarterly Conference of September 9, 1854.  Noted in the record of February 24th, 1855, is the mention that “a member of each point on the circuit was appointed on the ‘Tract Society’. The representative from Hamilton Creek is Martrom Lewis.” The class apparently remained just a class, meeting in homes for the many years between its founding and the early 1860’s.
In 1862, a site near a ford on the Meramec River was secured from Mrs. Eliza Horn and David Horn, Jr. and by 1863 the church stood completed. When Martrom Lewis passed away on April 8th of that same year, the published notice of his death mentioned, “Mr. Lewis had been a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church for over forty years.” After the death of Mrs. Lewis in 1867, her sons designed, built and endowed a second building in her memory. The congregation worshiped in that building until 1895.  As the roads were built and railroads changed the habits of members of the church, a more accessible site in Crescent was chosen for a new building.

On September 23rd, 1895, a transfer of the property at the present location of Lewis Chapel was made from the Ranken Estate to the Board of Trustees This second building served the congregation until it was destroyed by fire on the morning of July 23rd, 1923.
On December 1, 1932, the Reverend J. H. Kern was assigned as Assistant to Reverend Earle Lock, Pastor at Eureka. Reverend Kern was placed specifically in charge of Lewis Chapel congregation. The Board of Trustees, meeting in January of 1933, resolved to rebuild the church. Action followed immediately. Excavations began and by the first of March the foundation had been started. A temporary roof was placed on the foundation and this served as a sanctuary.  The first worship service was held in the newly-completed sanctuary on Easter Sunday, 1935.  In 1936, a new furnace was installed and in September 1939, new pews were added.  The building was dedicated on October 8, 1939.   The Memorial windows were dedicated in 1940 to the memory of those who had an active part in the church and community history. The new building provided the means to establish new traditions. Monthly fellowship suppers, making apple butter, the Community Christmas party and the annual Ham Dinner included not only members of the church but of the community.  The tradition of making apple-butter was established in 1939, with Mrs. Grace Stevens overseeing the work.
In 1992, with the church at its lowest point, an influx of new members brought renewed vitality and vision to the struggling congregation.   The congregation began improvements to the building.  In 1995, restrooms were added,. For most of its history, Lewis Chapel was part of a two-point charge.  In 1997. Bishop Ann Sherer agreed to make Lewis Chapel a single charge and in 1998 Reverend Maryann Hamer was appointed to serve as pastor .


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