History of Lewis Chapel


During the early summer of 1851, a group of men, women and children  assembled under the shade of some oak trees, for the purpose of making some plans, whereby, they might worship and glorify their God.  Their wishes were made known to the Presiding Elder Samuel Wragg Capers of the Columbia district of the South Carolina Conference and Rev. Nicholas Talley and Rev. John Wesley North were appointed to preach to this group the remainder of the year.


After some discussion on the subject of providing a house of worship, it was unanimously agreed by the group to build one as soon as possible.  Robert H. Tisdale and Isaac Reddin Brunson Sr. were elected the first trustees and bought two acres of land from Andrew J. Moses for the sum of two dollars for said plot.  This transaction was made August 2, 1851, and the deed was secured and recorded in Sumterville Court House (now Sumter Court House) August 4, 1851, in Book 0, pages 177-178.  The deed was written by G. W. Black and E. H. Jones and contained a Trust Clause.  The plot at present assumes a rectangle shape, due to recent changes in the public road and a canal ditch.

After having secured the land upon which to build a House of Worship, these consecrated and God-loving people began to formulate plans and gather materials for the building.  While preparations were in the making for the church building, this group continued to meet regularly under the Oak Tree for worship.

Robert H. Tisdale, a carpenter of his day, was made overseer of this building and with the help of the other men, work was soon begun.  Records state that all work on the building was done by the group without any recompense.

During the South Carolina Annual Conference in session at Georgetown, South Carolina, December 10, 1851, this newly organized congregation was welcomed into the Sumter Circuit under the name of “Shelter”.  This name was chosen because a few boards had been secured to assist the Oak Tree in protecting the congregation from the sun and rain until the church was finished.  Bishop J.O. Andrews presided at the conference in Georgetown and Rev. Allan McCorquodale was appointed pastor for this group, with William Wynn Mood as assistant pastor. 

Rev. Samuel Wragg Capers continued as Presiding Elder.  These men of God were assisted by a local preacher by the name of William Lewis, who gave every assistance possible to the new family of God as they built their house of worship.  He is credited with doing a great deal of the hard labor on the church.

The building was completed during the early part of May, 1852, and was dedicated to God, May 28, 1852, by the pastor, Rev. McCorquodale, using as a text the following scripture: “Lord, I love the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honor dwelleth.” Psalm 26:8.  On this occasion the name was changed from Shelter to Lewis Chapel in honor of the faithful services and keen interest shown by Rev. William Lewis.  The membership of the church at this time was 41.

Mr. Tisdale, Isaac Reddin Brunson Sr. (born Dec. 25, 1811-died May 9, 1874), M.B. Brunson, and James S. Newman did much work to assist in the early organization of Lewis Chapel.

According to the "Watchman and Southron" 1903, Mr. Tisdale was one of the oldest citizens living in the Concord township where he spent his long life.  He was a useful and valued citizen.  He is buried in the Lewis Chapel Church Cemetery alongside his beloved wife, Sarah Elizabeth.

Some years later, the Rev. Henry A. Bass, Miss Kate Tisdale and Mrs. Euphrasia Newman Childers (1857-1949) worked exceedingly hard to keep the church organized.  And because of their untiring efforts and splendid services these names shall ever be cherished and revered by the people of this church and community as well.

During the organization of Lewis Chapel a thriving Sunday School  existed throughout the years, and special mention should be given to the splendid services rendered by the following superintendents;  Rev. Henry Bass, Miss Kate Tisdale, J. Dozier Newman, D.L. Smith, J. B. Gordon, Mr. James F. Prescott, who faithfully served for twenty-three years and Mr. A.B. Mooneyhan. 

According to the Second Quarterly Conference April 26, 1931 of the Oswego Charge, a start had been made on remodeling Lewis Chapel.  A plan was decided and logs for the framing were cut to improve the sanctuary and to add Sunday School rooms.  The Rev. R.R. Tucker was the Preacher in charge during this time. 

In 1957, Lewis Chapel and Zoar Churches formed a charge known as Lewis Chapel-Zoar.  Plans were immediately formulated to build a parsonage.  A two-acre lot was secured directly opposite Lewis Chapel on Highway 57, and work on the building was begun November 1, 1959.  By February 25, 1960, the parsonage was completed at a cost of $16,500.00 including furnishings.  The Rev. T.L. Bryson was pastor during construction.

 In late 1972, under the guidance of the Rev. Jerry Watson, plans were made and funds sought for the construction of an additional building adjacent to Lewis Chapel to provide more classrooms plus a fellowship hall and related facilities. 

To give this building fund a substantial start, a long-time member and Sunday School teacher, Mrs. H. D. (Bessye) Brunson, offered to donate $ 8,000 with a challenge to the congregation to equal that amount before construction began.  The congregation met Mrs. Brunson’s challenge and groundreaking was held July 1, 1973.  Much of the foundation and finishing work was done by members of the church.  The completed building consisted of six classrooms plus a nursery, a pastor’s study, kitchen and restroom facilities and a fellowship hall to accommodate related functions. 

This new addition was dedicated on March 24, 1974, and named the Bessye Brunson Fellowship Hall.

In August, 1976, upon the death of A.B. Mooneyhan, a member and leader for nearly 25  years, memorial contributions made in his name to the church were designated by his family to be used to establish a church library.  Again, the Rev. Watson extended much needed ideas, coaching, assistance and encouragement in aiding a committee to complete this project. 

The A.B. Mooneyhan Memorial Library was dedicated on March 20, 1977, and contained 126 books.

As attendance increased, the congregation decided to renovate the sanctuary in 1987 to expand the seating capacity.   This renovation was completed in the summer of 1987. 

On September 22, 1989, Hurricane Hugo roared through South Carolina and Sumter County was struck extremely hard.  The sanctuary of Lewis Chapel fell victim to this indescribable tragedy.   The congregation was disappointed but hopeful that God would guide us through this horrible experience.  They chose seven members to guide us through the planning and building program.  The Building Committee, Graham Tisdale, Chairman, Carson Prescott, Grace Prescott, Nancy Boykin, Christine Johnson, Clarence Huggins, and Wade Warr tirelessly pursued the vision of providing the best facility possible for this generation and those yet to come. 

 The present sanctuary was dedicated to the glory of God on November 24, 1991.  This new facility should be a continual testimony of how God can work in a tragedy for the good of those who love Him.  In His Hands the curse of Hurricane Hugo has been turned into an unspeakable blessing for the congregation of Lewis Chapel.  May His Name be praised in every generation allowed to worship in this lovely sanctuary. 

 Lewis Chapel elected to disaffiliate from the United Methodist and as of June 30, 2023 we are now Lewis Chapel Church.