Brief History of Hall's Chapel
The Hall’s Chapel congregation traces their beginning to 1875 when Christians of the Methodist faith organized the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wichita with a circuit to Emporia and Newton.

1901 - Formation

AME members in Newton formed Hall’s Chapel in 1901 under the leadership of Reverend Silas W. Washington. Charter members included Mr. and Mrs. George Hall, Mr. and Mrs. John Anderson, Mrs. George Payne, Mr. and Mrs. W.H. Reeves, and Mrs. Mary Rowland and family—Lizzie, Lena, John, Charlie, and Vivian.

Mr. Hall purchased a building from the Brethren Church (now Peace Lutheran) and moved it to land that he donated at Eleventh and Oak Streets (200 E. 11th Street). The congregation paid Mr. Hall for the building and named their church in his honor. In 1921 this building was moved to the back of the lot for a parsonage and a new sanctuary was built.

The Hall’s Chapel congregation with their new building in 1921. Courtesy of Hall’s Chapel.
1965 - Flood

In June 1965 heavy rains caused Sand Creek to overflow its banks, flooding the Hall’s Chapel neighborhood. The Dillons grocery store to the south of the church was completely submerged. The water rose to one-foot high in the Hall’s Chapel sanctuary, but structural damage was limited.

The Hall’s Chapel neighborhood after the Sand Creek flood of 1965. Courtesy of Harvey County Historical Museum.
1968 - Merger

Another African-American congregation in Newton was Holsey Chapel CME, founded in 1882. By the 1960s, membership at Holsey Chapel dwindled as young people moved away for employment and education. The General Conference of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church urged Holsey Chapel members to join the AME congregation and in 1968 many chose to unite with Hall’s Chapel.

2005 - Move

In 2005 Dillon’s wanted to expand their store building and made an offer to purchase the church property at Eleventh and Oak Street. The members of Hall’s Chapel decided to relocate further east on Eleventh Street.

Hank Harvey

Sammie Simmons

New church building at 711 E. Eleventh Street. Courtesy of Kauffman Museum.
For over 100 years, Hall’s Chapel has been part of the Newton religious community.

Veronica Thaw

New church building at 711 E. Eleventh Street. Courtesy of Kauffman Museum.
To dedicate the new building on December 17, 2005, the Hall’s Chapel congregation sang “A charge to keep I have,” a hymn written by Charles Wesley in 1762.

A charge to keep I have,
A God to glorify,
A never-dying soul to save,
And fit it for the sky.

To serve the present age,
My calling to fulfill;
O may it all my powers engage
To do my Master’s will!

Arm me with jealous care,
As in Thy sight to live;
And O Thy servant, Lord, prepare
A strict account to give!

Help me to watch and pray,
And on Thyself rely,
Assured, if I my trust betray,
I shall forever die.

Excerpts from Hall's Chapel member interviews

Many Hall’s Chapel members lived close to the church. The neighborhood included a Dillons grocery store and Havens Park, a city park with a playground and picnic shelter.

Sylvia Kelly

Hall’s Chapel members Mary Rawlins, Hank Harvey and June Thaw at Havens Park. Courtesy of Veronica Thaw.

All members are active in the affairs of the church—from steward and trustee to organizing church dinners.

Veronica Thaw

Veronica Thaw, Sammie Simmons and Sylvia Kelly in the basement kitchen of the Hall’s Chapel church. Courtesy of Veronica Thaw.

Members of all ages were involved in the music ministry of Hall’s Chapel.

Winifred Garnett

The late Mary M. Rawlins, Hall’s Chapel director of music. Courtesy of Winifred Garnett.

Hall’s Chapel members have always been involved in civic and service activities in Newton.

Sylvia Kelly

Hall’s Chapel members of the Art Club in 1950. Courtesy of Sylvia Kelly.
Unity’s First Afrocentric Day to celebrate the contributions of African Americans. Courtesy of Sylvia Kelly.
Eric Alexander and a children’s Karate Club in 1990. Courtesy of Sylvia Kelly.
Principal funding for this project was provided by the Kansas Humanities Council, a nonprofit cultural organization promoting understanding of the history, traditions, and ideas that shape our lives and build community.

Project director: Rachel Pannabecker, Kauffman Museum
Interview coordinator: Sammie Simmons, Hall’s Chapel Steward pro tem
Technology producer/web designer: Joel Gaeddert, Kauffman Museum
Consultants: Donna Rae Pearson and Penelope Moon
Interviewers: JeT’aime Taylor and Bridget Kratzer
Equipment: Bethel College Audio Visual