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Union History 1901 - 2001


The new century just begun, Lynchburg was quite a small town. The community that Union Chapel was located in was known as the ''Pettyjohn district." Horses and buggies were the principal means of travel. Mr. T. L. Wills, a member of First Christian Church in Lynchburg, and Mr. Charles Rickets and others of the community met and formed a church known as Union Chapel. The first church building was a one-room log cabin.


In one year the group had grown, and the log cabin was no longer adequate. A new one-room school building, which eventually housed seven grades, had been erected, and it was decided to hold all services there. The name was then changed from ''Union Chapel'' to ''Wills chapel's, in honor of Mr. Wills a leader in the project. Services were conducted in the school building for about two years, with assistance from ministers of the various Christian churches in the area - All services were irregular and uncertain.


At a meeting of a building committee held May 1 5, 1904 it was decided to build a new church building, to be located across the road from the school on land donated by Mr. Wills, who then served as Superintendent of the Sunday School at Wills Chapel.


Placeholder imageAbout 1906, Bro. H.D. Coffey, who now made his home in Lynchburg, and who was frequently connected with establishing new churches in the area, was invited to direct the new building project. As soon as the building was ready, Brother Coffey began a revival which extended a week. It helped to increase the membership to 55. Upon completion of the building, the name was then changed from ''WilIs Chapel'' to ''Union Christian chapel.

1901 - 1938

Services became more regular in the new building and held once or twice a month, usually in the afternoon, Various ministers from other Christian churches assisted. Sometimes, during the winter months Sunday School and church services were dispensed with for a month or so, due to conditions of the road.
The Rev. John L. McKinney was one of the first pastors of the church. The men of the church helped build a nice log cabin for him, and he lived in the neighborhood. Services were then held morning and evening, twice a month, with Sunday School each Sunday. He had other churches out of the area which he helped supply.


Placeholder imageDuring the late thirties and until 1946 the church had preaching twice a month. Dr. G. C. Looney, Pastor of Madison Heights Christian Church, who was also an eye physician, and Dr. R. W. Wallace from First Christian Church, Lynchburg, were frequent with their services and other area ministers served when possible. The late Mrs. Elizabeth R. Wilson was one of the key members of the church, serving as a leader, clerk, and pianist for over 40 years.


Placeholder imageIn 1946 the Lynchburg Christian Laymen's Club became interested in helping the church have full-time preaching. They agreed to underwrite a salary of $100 each month, but this assistance was not needed. Arrangements were made to have Mr. Irvin Mitchell, a teacher at Lynchburg College, to become the regular pastor.


Placeholder imageIn September 1949, Dr. Fred Helsabeck, then Dean of Lynchburg College, was called as Pastor. He, with the assistance of college ministerial students, served very electively for five years. Students who assisted Dr. Helsabeck were Don Allen, Paul Shelton, Giles Lambert, Elwood Campbell, and Gene Lawhorne. Mr. Ernest Layne a layman at Euclid Christian Church, was chosen as music director. The church grew considerably, two new classrooms were added, children's program was started and missionary work grew. Membership increased from 60 to 95. Mr. Cecil Taylor assisted Dr. Helsabeck in 1953.


During 1954-1968, Lynchburg College continued to supply the church with student pastors. A complete listing is not available, but a partial listing is as follows:
John Whidden 1954 through Aug 1955
E. C. Redmon July 1955 – Dec 1955
Donald Cassisy Jan 1956 – Sept 1957
Larry Chambers Sept 1957- May 1958
Curtis Nunn May 1959 – Aug 1960
Allen G Manuel Jan 1961 – April 1963
L. Carlton Lyon June 1963 – July 1968
In addition, J. T. Watson served as interim Sept. 1958 - Apr. 1959, and in the early seventies Eugene Riley served as a supply pastor for a few months.


In June 1958 the church had its first Homecoming. Since that time the church constantly dreamed of a new sanctuary. Perseverance, dedication, and faith finally reaped their reward, and in 1961 a new church was built at a cost of approximately $2 1,000, with a mortgage of $12,000. The Reuben S. Garrett family donated additional land for this. Allen Manuel was student pastor at that time. When the new sanctuary was erected the name was again changed from ''Union Christian Chapel'' to Union Christian Church.


Placeholder imageDedication services of the sanctuary were held in May 1963. The longest period of service by any student pastor was that of L. Carlton Lyon. In December 1963, the church received a gift of $5,000 from a friend, Mr. S. C. Hurt, of Lynchburg. The gift enabled the church to pay off the mortgage. Mortgage burning and Homecoming service was held in June 1966.


Robert S. Tatlock served as interim from Sept. 1968 to December 31, 1969. During 1969 it was decided to build a parsonage and call a full-time minister, Once again this was a decision motivated by "faith'', as at that time the church did not have half of its budget underwritten. The land for the parsonage was purchased from the Reuben S. Garrett estate for $700. The parsonage was completed in January 1970 at a cost of $19,500 with a mortgage of $14,250. Mortgage burning and Homecoming was held April 1975.


In January 1970, the church called it first full-time pastor, W. Murrell Stump, Jr. Under his leadership from 1970 to 1975 much was accomplished, as follows: Attendance and offerings were doubled. 60 new members were added. Mission giving increased from $400 in 1969 to over $4,000 in 1975. The budget of the church increased from $5,527 in 1970 to $23,564 in 1975. In 1970 the church was No. 1 in Virginia for outreach giving. Total to missions was $33,400 for the 5 year period.


A bell tower was dedicated in 1972 (given by Stephen C. Hurt). A new addition was added providing a fellowship hall and Sunday School rooms at a cost of $15 000. The Reuben S. Garrett estate donated additional land for the parking lot and cemetery, and the church and parsonage were conditioned. The parking lot and roadway were paved. One of the unique projects of the church during this period was collecting used soft-drink bottles and returning them for refund.


Donald L. Morrison served as minister from 1975 to 1977. During this time the church office was improved and an additional room was completed in the basement of the parsonage. W. M. Stump, now retired, served as interim from 1977 to 1980. During this time a baptistery was installed and stained glass windows were given in memory or honor of someone.


Dennis E. Reynolds was called as Pastor in April 1980. He had a radio ministry, in 1981 a church van was purchased, youth groups were started, and membership grew considerably. Dennis was instrumental in obtaining the services of our second Choir Director, Linda Wright, a member of Fairview Christian. She served us well for 18 years. Also, in 1985 the church purchased 5.14 acres on the comer of Rt. 130 and Rt. 685, for $18,000, for a future church. Dennis served from April 1980 through Dec. 1986. Dennis retired July 1987 and served through March 1989.


Dr. Donald W. Weaver served as minister from November 1989 to September 30, 1996. Several supply pastors served following this, including Dr. Joe Detamore who served as interim during this period. Dr. Charles R. Hughes, from Liberty University, served as Pastor from July 1998 to June 2000.


In Nov. 1999, Dr. Ronald W. Smith, was called as interim. In May of 2001 it was decided to retain him as Pastor. He served four days a week, spending three days at his home in Roanoke. Our church attendance gre. We hired our first paid Youth Director, Jeremy Woody, a student at Liberty University and he gave us 15 to 20 hours per week. Mrs. Betty McKinney served as our Choir Director.

Sunday Services
10:00 am Adult Sunday School
10:00 am Youth Sunday School
11:00 am Morning Worship Service
Nursery Provided
6:30 pm Evening Worship Service

Weekly Schedule
Tuesday 7:00 pm Evening Bible Study
Wednesday 10:00 am Morning Bible Study
Wednesday 6:00 pm Jesus Kids
Wednesday 7:00 pm Choir Practice

Contact Us
Jim Freeman, Minister 434 258-5917
Church 434 846-5917
Stan Garrett, Board Chairman