The Church was organized in 1912 by Reverend G. W. Owens.  It was named the Darwin Street Missionary Baptist Church and was later named the Owens Chapel Missionary Baptist Church.  It was organized in a one room frame building that was poorly furnished with a coal burning stove for heat and the only source of light was a kerosene lamp.  In retrospect, it seems so small compared to the standards of our churches today.  At that time, the church consisted of Reverend Owens, Deacon Willie Strong, Deacon Moore and a handful of members.

Though the membership was small, they were a dedicated few.  In 1914, Sister Odell Fletcher joined the church.  She had a fire and zeal that would help push the program of the church to new heights.  Sister Fletcher took pride in her church.  She wanted her church family to formulate programs and activities similar to those of the larger, more prominent churches in the area.  As a result, she helped initiate the Baptist Training Union (BTU) and established the Missionary Society.  Truly the work she began continues to be felt throughout the generations of the many lives she touched.

Reverend Owens was determined in his quest to magnify the Lord at Owens Chapel.  He served untiringly for five years until 1916. He was called to defend his country in the Armed Forces in World War I.  That same year, one of the deacons relocated to Atlanta, Georgia and the other deacon was incapacitated due to failing health, and thus, was unable to continue his service.  In 1917, the church acquired the leadership of Reverend George Gains to assume the pastoral duties.  Reverend Gains, an aging but well-known minister, served faithfully for three years until his health failed.  It was then that he recommended Reverend Maylon L. Lanier for the position as pastor of Owens Chapel M. B. Church.

In 1920, the church accepted Reverend Gains’ recommendation and elected Reverend Maylon Lanier as its new spiritual leader.  He served faithfully in the position for thirty-one years.  When Reverend Lanier took charge the church’s indebtedness was a serious issue since the membership was so small.  However, with a lot of hard work, pledge rallies, and heartfelt prayers, the debt was finally paid off.

In 1923, the membership decided that a larger church was needed.  They agreed to sponsor a church rally.  The brothers of the church were taxed $20.00 and sisters were each taxed $15.00.  During this time, deacon Ben Eddie Lanier joined the congregation and Owens Chapel once again had two deacons.

In 1923, the required amount for the down payment on the new building was finally raised. Mr. A. M. Booth, a local contractor, was solicited to begin the construction.  The burden of contracting people to get the building started rested upon Reverend Lanier, Deacon B. E. Lanier and Sister Odell Fletcher.  Friends were called upon from various churches for support and influence.  The payments on the building were small by today’s standards.  However, those same pennies, nickels and dimes were, at the time, the only means many members had for paying their church dues.   Those were hard times, but through faith and determination the church moved forward.  The grounds were paid off, and the membership increased.

During the early 1920’s, Sister Odell Fletcher, spurred on by the encouragement of Reverend J. W. Lowe and Reverend Cal Rice, two very fine Sunday school workers, accepted the position of Sunday School Superintendent.  She served faithfully in that position for a number of years.  As the years moved forward, the members of Owens Chapel began to see the physical fruits of their labors during this time.  The Missionary Society, encouraged by Sister Fletcher, purchased several pieces of Sanctuary furniture that we still have today, including an altar table, two chairs,  and an offering table.  They also purchased a communion set and service tray to replace the previously used jelly glasses and tin pans.  In addition, the church acquired an old fashioned organ.  Mr. McNeal Jones and Ms. Bessie Roper of Huntsville, AL began serving as church musicians on a part-time basis.  With two musicians now on board, the Senior Choir was established in 1949. 

In the midst of so much joy, there came sadness when tragedy claimed the life of Reverend Lanier in 1951.  Yet his memory and works lived on in the hearts and minds of those who knew and loved him.    In 1952, the church soon found new leadership in Reverend William Gwinn who had relocated to the Huntsville area from Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Reverend Gwinn was a man with many progressive ideas.  However, he was unable to implement those ideas due to resistance from the congregation.  After two years of service, Reverend Gwinn moved on.

In 1954, Reverend A. R. Ratliff, a close friend and associate of Reverend Lanier’s, was elected pastor.  Under the leadership of Reverend Ratliff, many of the programs (such as the usher board and choir) that had been implemented during Reverend Lanier’s tenure were re-established.  Although aging and in failing health, the church made substantial progress under the leadership of Reverend Ratliff, however, due to continued illness, Reverend Ratliff ended his service as pastor after slightly more than three years.

In 1958, Reverend James Irvin McGahee was called to lead the congregation.  Reverend McGahee was a contemporary of Reverend Lanier.  His style of leadership was very much like Reverend Lanier.  Under Reverend McGahee leadership, the church was relocated and renovated on Lowery Street.  At this time the church had a total of nine deacons with a membership of well over a hundred. During Reverend McGahee’s tenure, a baptismal pool and indoor facilities were added.  Reverend McGahee was dedicated in his service, traveling from Decatur, AL to Huntsville during all sorts of weather conditions.

In 1969, after returning home from Sunday Services, Reverend McGahee passed away Shortly after the death of Reverend McGhee, Reverend Edward E. Morton was elected as pastor in 1970.  Reverend Morton was able to relate to the congregation more than any previous pastor.  During his tenure the membership was more generous in giving.  The church interior was remodeled, the Sunbeam choir was established, and the young people became an active part of the congregation.   Reverend Morton believed that the time had come for Owens Chapel to have a full- time pastor.  However, since the congregation did not desire a full-time pastor, Reverend Morton moved on after six years of service.

In 1977, Reverend Hubert W. Thompson was called to serve the congregation as pastor.  A young man of insight and vision, Reverend Thompson had a close walk with the Lord.  He was a wonderful person who worked well with the young as well as the old.  Reverend Thompson and his family came with a heart filled with love and great concern for the church.  Under Reverend Thompson’s leadership the membership increased to about two hundred members and tithing became a reality.  In 1990, Reverend Thompson felt that he had finished his work with the congregation and decided to move on.

In December 1990, the church made the choice of Reverend Wallace D. Steele to succeed Reverend Thompson.  Reverend Steele and his family brought a warm spirit of love and concern to the church.  He also brought with him a vision of greatness for the church.  Under Reverend Steele’s leadership the mass choir and the trustee board were reorganized.  Also under Reverend Steele’s leadership, the church realized a ten-year dream seen by Reverend Hubert W. Thompson to build a new church facility. Reverend Steele realized that if he accepted a salary prior to the church being completed, it could put a hardship on the church.  Therefore, he refused to accept a salary until the church was completely finished.  The construction of the new church on Elton Road was completed in February 1994.  In early 1995, Reverend Steele‘s tenure as pastor ended.

In July 1995, the search committee made the choice of Reverend Robert J. Brown, Jr.  Reverend Brown served in the capacity of interim pastor for approximately three months.  Reverend Brown was then selected as pastor and served through December 31, 2001. Under his leadership, the membership grew tremendously.

In 2002, Reverend Hubert Wendell Thompson became the pastor.  Since Reverend Thompson was elected pastor, new ministries have been formed and are actively working.  The church facility has been enhanced, new chandeliers have been added in the sanctuary and portable classrooms have been added to the property.  Under Pastor Thompson’s leadership, the church was able to make the final payment on the church mortgage in 2006.

We are prayerful that God will continue to bless the union of Reverend H. W. Thompson, Sr, his family and the Owens Chapel Missionary Baptist Church family.

 

Though the membership was small, they were a dedicated few.  In 1914, Sister Odell Fletcher joined the church.  She had a fire and zeal that would help push the program of the church to new heights.  Sister Fletcher took pride in her church.  She wanted her church family to formulate programs and activities similar to those of the larger, more prominent churches in the area.  As a result, she helped initiate the Baptist Training Union (BTU) and established the Missionary Society.  Truly the work she began continues to be felt throughout the generations of the many lives she touched.

 

Reverend Owens was determined in his quest to magnify the Lord at Owens Chapel.  He served untiringly for five years until 1916. He was called to defend his country in the Armed Forces in World War I.  That same year, one of the deacons relocated to Atlanta, Georgia and the other deacon was incapacitated due to failing health, and thus, was unable to continue his service.  In 1917, the church acquired the leadership of Reverend George Gains to assume the pastoral duties.  Reverend Gains, an aging but well-known minister, served faithfully for three years until his health failed.  It was then that he recommended Reverend Maylon L. Lanier for the position as pastor of Owens Chapel M. B. Church.

 

In 1920, the church accepted Reverend Gains’ recommendation and elected Reverend Maylon Lanier as its new spiritual leader.  He served faithfully in the position for thirty-one years.  When Reverend Lanier took charge the church’s indebtedness was a serious issue since the membership was so small.  However, with a lot of hard work, pledge rallies, and heartfelt prayers, the debt was finally paid off.

 

In 1923, the membership decided that a larger church was needed.  They agreed to sponsor a church rally.  The brothers of the church were taxed $20.00 and sisters were each taxed $15.00.  During this time, deacon Ben Eddie Lanier joined the congregation and Owens Chapel once again had two deacons.

 

In 1923, the required amount for the down payment on the new building was finally raised. Mr. A. M. Booth, a local contractor, was solicited to begin the construction.  The burden of contracting people to get the building started rested upon Reverend Lanier, Deacon B. E. Lanier and Sister Odell Fletcher.  Friends were called upon from various churches for support and influence.  The payments on the building were small by today’s standards.  However, those same pennies, nickels and dimes were, at the time, the only means many members had for paying their church dues.   Those were hard times, but through faith and determination the church moved forward.  The grounds were paid off, and the membership increased.

 

During the early 1920’s, Sister Odell Fletcher, spurred on by the encouragement of Reverend J. W. Lowe and Reverend Cal Rice, two very fine Sunday school workers, accepted the position of Sunday School Superintendent.  She served faithfully in that position for a number of years.  As the years moved forward, the members of Owens Chapel began to see the physical fruits of their labors during this time.  The Missionary Society, encouraged by Sister Fletcher, purchased several pieces of Sanctuary furniture that we still have today, including an altar table, two chairs,  and an offering table.  They also purchased a communion set and service tray to replace the previously used jelly glasses and tin pans.  In addition, the church acquired an old fashioned organ.  Mr. McNeal Jones and Ms. Bessie Roper of Huntsville, AL began serving as church musicians on a part-time basis.  With two musicians now on board, the Senior Choir was established in 1949.

 

In the midst of so much joy, there came sadness when tragedy claimed the life of Reverend Lanier in 1951.  Yet his memory and works lived on in the hearts and minds of those who knew and loved him.    In 1952, the church soon found new leadership in Reverend William Gwinn who had relocated to the Huntsville area from Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Reverend Gwinn was a man with many progressive ideas.  However, he was unable to implement those ideas due to resistance from the congregation.  After two years of service, Reverend Gwinn moved on.

 

In 1954, Reverend A. R. Ratliff, a close friend and associate of Reverend Lanier’s, was elected pastor.  Under the leadership of Reverend Ratliff, many of the programs (such as the usher board and choir) that had been implemented during Reverend Lanier’s tenure were re-established.  Although aging and in failing health, the church made substantial progress under the leadership of Reverend Ratliff, however, due to continued illness, Reverend Ratliff ended his service as pastor after slightly more than three years.

 

In 1958, Reverend James Irvin McGahee was called to lead the congregation.  Reverend McGahee was a contemporary of Reverend Lanier.  His style of leadership was very much like Reverend Lanier.  Under Reverend McGahee leadership, the church was relocated and renovated on Lowery Street.  At this time the church had a total of nine deacons with a membership of well over a hundred. During Reverend McGahee’s tenure, a baptismal pool and indoor facilities were added.  Reverend McGahee was dedicated in his service, traveling from Decatur, AL to Huntsville during all sorts of weather conditions.

In 1969, after returning home from Sunday Services, Reverend McGahee passed away.

 

Shortly after the death of Reverend McGhee, Reverend Edward E. Morton was elected as pastor in 1970.  Reverend Morton was able to relate to the congregation more than any previous pastor.  During his tenure the membership was more generous in giving.  The church interior was remodeled, the Sunbeam choir was established, and the young people became an active part of the congregation.   Reverend Morton believed that the time had come for Owens Chapel to have a full- time pastor.  However, since the congregation did not desire a full-time pastor, Reverend Morton moved on after six years of service.

 

In 1977, Reverend Hubert W. Thompson, Sr., was called to serve the congregation as pastor.  A young man of insight and vision, Reverend Thompson had a close walk with the Lord.  He was a wonderful person who worked well with the young as well as the old.  Reverend Thompson and his family came with a heart filled with love and great concern for the church.  Under Reverend Thompson’s leadership the membership increased to about two hundred members and tithing became a reality.  In 1990, Reverend Thompson felt that he had finished his work with the congregation and decided to move on.

 

In December 1990, the church made the choice of Reverend Wallace D. Steele to succeed Reverend Thompson.  Reverend Steele and his family brought a warm spirit of love and concern to the church.  He also brought with him a vision of greatness for the church.  Under Reverend Steele’s leadership the mass choir and the trustee board were reorganized.  Also under Reverend Steele’s leadership, the church realized a ten-year dream seen by Reverend Hubert W. Thompson to build a new church facility. Reverend Steele realized that if he accepted a salary prior to the church being completed, it could put a hardship on the church.  Therefore, he refused to accept a salary until the church was completely finished.   The construction of the new church on Elton Road was completed in February 1994.  In early 1995, Reverend Steele‘s tenure as pastor ended.

 

In July 1995, the search committee made the choice of Reverend Robert J. Brown, Jr.  Reverend Brown served in the capacity of interim pastor for approximately three months.  Reverend Brown was then selected as pastor and served through December 31, 2001. Under his leadership, the membership grew tremendously.

 

In 2002, Reverend Hubert Wendell Thompson became the pastor.  Since Reverend Thompson was elected pastor, new ministries have been formed and are actively working.  The church facility has been enhanced, new chandeliers have been added in the sanctuary and portable classrooms have been added to the property.  Under Pastor Thompson’s leadership, the church was able to make the final payment on the church mortgage in 2006.

 

We are prayerful that God will continue to bless the union of Reverend H. W. Thompson, Sr, his family and the Owens Chapel Missionary Baptist Church family.

Contact Us

2520 Elton Road NW

Huntsville, AL 35810

owens_chapel@yahoo.com

© 2018 by Vetrea Slack Ruffin for Owens Chapel M.B. Church