411 South High Street
Yellow Springs, Ohio

John E. Freeman, Pastor

Central Chapel A.M.E. is celebrating Grandparents Day on September 13th at 4:00 p.m. Check out Upcoming Events for more information.
Our Beginning
by Edgar L. Mack

Introduction to the African Methodist Episcopal Church
In 1787, Rev. Richard Allen & Rev. Absalom Jones withdrew from the St. George Methodist Church, Philadelphia, PA, because of "unkind treatment" and restriction placed upon worshippers of African descent. They founded The Free African Society, which was the beginning of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

In 1816, Richard Allen called together sixteen representatives from Bethel African Church in Philadelphia, PA, and African churches in Baltimore, MD, Wilmington, DE, Attleboro, PA, and Salem, NJ, to meet in Philadelphia . A church organization or 'connection' was organized as the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Richard Allen was the founder and first Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Our Name
African: The term "African" refers to people of African descent. Richard Allen also used the term "people of color". He advocated human dignity and religious liberty for people of African descent in America.

Methodist: Richard Allen accepted the doctrines and polity of the Methodist Church as appropriate for his people. The term "Methodist" was used as a word to describe the worship manner of John Wesley and his followers, because of their systematic method and habits of religious duty.

Episcopal: The highest office in the A.M.E. Church is the Bishop. The term "Bishop" means "Over-seer". The Bishop is the one who "over-sees" or "overlooks" the work of the church.

History (1866 - present)
Within four years after Daniel A. Payne had purchased the Wilberforce School, thirteen people in Yellow Springs met with Rev. Charley Jones and Son from Xenia to form the local A.M.E. Church. Those charter members were Stephen Bailey, his wife Mary, and son York, Simpson Smith and wife Sarah, Rev. Jesse A. Smith, Vincent Smith, Joseph Smith, Delilah Pippins, Elizabeth Anderson, Joseph Botts and his wife Julia, and Nancy Herod.

This group first met at the Old Central School House, off Clifton Pike West, now known as Route 370. Since the location was some distance from those residing in the western part of the village, the group moved to the rear of number 57 on Dayton and Elm Streets. A third move to the Antioch Prep School offered more space and flexibility. However, within two years, the group constructed a chapel on lot number 116 at the corner of High and Davis Streets with their own artisans to become known as Central Chapel.

The original building consisting of one room was built facing High Street. Soon after completion, Wheeling Gaunt, a member of considerable wealth presented the church with a bell; and a vestibule and belfry were constructed.

During the pastorate of Rev. R.P. Clarke, the church purchased lots number 117 and 118, which included a house used as a parsonage until it was destroyed to make way for the construction of a new church. Trustees at the time of that purchase were: William Johnson, James Lawson, John Mason, Levi Perry, Jr., Armsted Stagner, Benjamin Williams, and Jefferson Williams.

During 1911, stained glass windows were installed with the following families purchasing windows: Ben Pinkston, Jeff Williams, Armsted Stagner and Rev. J. D. Smith. Other windows were purchased from the general fund.

An addition was added to the rear of the Church in 1915, and a kitchen and dining room were added, and a basement dug to accommodate a furnace. Rev. W.M. Dawkins was then the pastor.

In 1953, the Rev. Isaac Louden changed the entrance of the church from High Street to Davis Street; moving the pulpit from the east to the west end of the Chapel, and installed restrooms in the area that had previously been a vestibule.

The desire for a new church took root in the 1960's. Two building funds came into being. One church sponsored, and one by a local club (Adorns, Inc.) to which a number of church members belonged. Russell Cordell was the shaker and the mover of that organization.

Also in the 1960's, Rev. Richard H. Patterson, following the lead of Rev. Wesley S. Matthews and Rev. Henderson Davis, involved the church in the Civil Rights Struggle. The congregation participated in marches, collected clothing for those persons in Mississippi who were evicted during voter registration drives in that state, housed students who came here from Prince Edward County, Virginia (where schools were closed rather than be integrated). During this period, Central Chapel worshipped with United Methodist Church in observance of Aldersgate Sunday and Methodism's 200th Anniversary.

When Rev. H.M. Brown was assigned to Central Chapel in 1969, he became a catalyst for the building movement. Individuals and families contributed up to $1,000.00 each to the fund. The house on lot 118 which had been used as a parsonage was demolished and construction of a new church was completed on lots 117 and 118 in 1971. This building was built at a cost of $61,000, with an additional $33,000 spent for carpeting and other church furnishings. An organ was given by Miss Leanna Perry in of her parents Levi and Retta Perry; pulpit furniture was given in memory of Rev. John A. DeVeaux and Alonzo and Hester Brown, parents of Orlando & Leanora Brown, and husband of Mrs. Della DeVeaux. Landscaping was donated by Mr.& Mrs. Douglas Perry in memory of William and Luretta Perry. Trees and shrubs were planted in memory of Bruce Highwarden, gifts of Goldie Highwarden and daughter, Cheryl; and by Eloise Butler in memory of her father.

Trustees during the new church were: Rev. H.M. Brown, Pastor, Edward Benton, Orlando Brown, Joseph Lewis, and Emory Vance.

The construction of this new building was a community project, led by Rev. Brown and the congregation, with many local residents contributing generously of their finances and service. Therefore, as a community organization, Central Chapel continued to reach out to others, supporting the Motor Meals Program, on Community Council, and hosting the Baccalaureate Service in 1976.

In 1970, under Rev. Brown's tenure, the Central Chapel Youth Organization (CCYO) was organized by Trudy Cunningham, with the help of Melva Brown and Kathy Schooler. At one time there were 38 members of this organization, and they went all over the area giving concerts.

The Young People's Department (YPD) instituted the Altar Call in the old church and it is still being done.

Dates of Importance to the Church and Congregation:

Groundbreaking for the new Central Chapel, August 15, 1971

Cornerstone laid, November, 1971

Open House at the new church, March, 1972

Dedication of the new church, April 16, 1972

First Wedding in the church, Sheila Edwards & Ernest Henderson April 1972

First funeral in the new church, Chester Benning, June 1972

In 1978, Charles Hall a Central Chapel member, was appointed by the Bishop to the position of Official Photographer for the Third Episcopal A.M.E. Church. Mr. Hall is an accomplished portrait photographer and television cameraman. He has held cameraman positions with both Channel 7 and 22 in Dayton, Ohio. "Audio Visual" has now been added to Mr. Hall's official position.

In 1979, the Woodford property behind the church, lots number 122 and 123 on South Stafford Street were purchased. The house was condemned and removed in June 1982 to make way for future expansion of the church.

In 1981, Vernon Allen & Martin Brown presented the church with tables and folding chairs in memory of their grandmother, Della DeVeaux.

In 1982, Fred Grant presented the church with a bible and liturgical cloths for the Altar in memory of Wife, Louise (Pat) Grant.

December 12,1982 -- Mortgage Burning celebration. Ten years and nine months after the Open House (March, 1972) for the new church, the burning was celebrated. This marked the culmination of one of the most successful fund-raising and building programs in the history of the A.M.E. church. Rev. Mason Brown who was the catalyst for building program, chief architect, and fund-raiser, was appropriately the speaker of the day.

In July 1985, Mary Lou Thornton a Central Chapel member, was inducted into the Third Episcopal District Women's Mission Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame was established in 1982 by Mrs. Bessie Bradford, President of the Third Episcopal District Mission to "Recognize Unsung Christian Heroines Achievement that go Beyond Christian Activities." Recognition is given for civic, community and missionary activities of which Mrs. Thornton contributed greatly.

In October of 1985, the Ladies Aid Society, co-chaired by Frances Lewis and Phyllis Jackson raised funds to purchase over 100 engraved pew bibles.

In November of 1986, the DeVeaux-Joseph Scholarship Fund was established by Rev. James M. Tate, Jr., under the sponsorship of Central Chapel. The Scholarship Fund is dedicated to the memory of Delia DeVeaux and Norman Joseph. Both Mrs. DeVeaux and Mr. Joseph were active members of the church and were great supporters of young people in the church and community at large.

In 1987, a church Newsletter titled 'Central Chapel Chronicle,' was initially published by Winifred (Trudy) Cunningham. The Chronicle is published Quarterly and is mailed throughout the country to current and past members and of the church. Mrs. Grace Clark ably assist Mrs. Cunningham in providing an excellently prepared newsletter.

On July 9-12, 1998 the church dedicated its newly-constructed Education and Family Life Center. Central Chapel (now in its 132nd year of service in Yellow Springs looks upon its new building as advancing its mission "to provide education and family activities for our church family and the wider community.")
For more information call: 937-767-3061 or send e-mail