Rural church gets a revival

Fairview Chapel east of Mildred sat vacant for decades. Recently, members of area Methodist churches revitalized the old sanctuary.



May 7, 2024 - 2:04 PM

Members of the Bronson, Moran, and Mildred Methodist churches congregate at the Fairview Chapel for a combined service on April 28. Pastor Tracy Smith leads the service the last Sunday of each month. Courtesy photo

Fairview Chapel is experiencing a renaissance of sorts. The small chapel, located 2 miles east of Mildred on West Virginia Road, has sat largely vacant over the decades. Recently, members of the Methodist churches in Bronson, Moran and Mildred have taken a keen interest in revitalizing the old sanctuary.

The chapel saw its beginnings in 1878 when a group of Presbyterians built its first iteration. Services were held there for several years before waning off in 1886. The chapel was then used only on occasion when preachers from Moran would hold services there. In 1918, the church was destroyed by a tornado.

The chapel was rebuilt in the 1920s mainly because of its neighboring graveyard, according to groundskeeper Tracy Smith and his wife, Teresa. 

“It was rebuilt because most of the people in the community had loved ones in the cemetery and they wanted to keep the chapel on site for funerals,” said Teresa. In the 1990s it was renovated by the Henderson and Ross families. “At that time, they updated the central air, and installed new doors and drywall,” Teresa said.

Aside from the upkeep of the graveyard, Smith also serves as the pastor for Bronson, Moran, and Mildred Methodist churches. His family is one of the original families who helped build Fairview Chapel.

Teresa has helped spearhead the recent call for renovations.

Teresa noted that over the last three years, those on the township board have decided the chapel needed updates again to “remain useful.” In the spring of 2022, the board replaced the roof followed by the installation of new windows that summer. Last spring, a composting toilet and bathroom were added to the structure.

“We’ve also refloored the entry,” said Teresa. “We made it so there are pews in half of the chapel and tables and chairs in the back half.” Funding for this undertaking came mostly from grants, she noted. “Regena Lance helped us get a COVID grant,” she said. “Township funds were also used.”

Teresa added that the chapel is currently used the last Sunday of each month when all three area Methodist churches congregate in the fellowship hall for combined services. The chapel most recently held a Sunday service on April 28.

The chapel is available for those who wish to use it. “It’s clean and nice,” said Teresa. “It’s old, but it’s very useful now. People are welcome to use it for a donation if they choose.” She said that it has been used for funerals, visiting, or family get-togethers.

“It will be open again from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, and 9 a.m. to noon, Monday, on Memorial Day weekend,” noted Teresa.

Those interested in using the chapel can contact Tracy Smith at (620) 322-9889.

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