History

A Story Unfolding in the Grace and Truth of Jesus Christ

From a storefront at Five Points to a building at Brown and Vine Streets to Fir Hill and now on into all our other campus locations, The Chapel’s legacy has been built on two cornerstones: grace and truth. These are not random Christian concepts. They are the triumphant message by the Apostle John to the growing early church.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth… For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:14,17

1933

Humble Beginnings

We trace our roots to The Furnace Street Mission where newlyweds Carl and Agnes Burnham served before transforming a 20- x 50- foot storeroom into a church on Akron’s near west side.

1934 January

First Service

The first service at The Chapel at Five Points was held on Jan. 15, 1934. Carl’s father, B.A. Burnham, preached at the 10:30am service; Carl preached at 7:30pm that day. Between 40 and 50 people attended.

1936 – 1955

Brown & Vine

In 1936, the growing church began raising money to purchase a lot of their own at the corner of Brown and Vine. Once there, volunteers built the basement of the structure where the congregation met for years. By 1947 when the building was completed, The Chapel at Brown and Vine had 450 members.

1955 March

The Move to Fir Hill

When The Chapel outgrew its building at Brown and Vine, members voted to purchase a more centrally-located property nearby. The cornerstone was laid on Palm Sunday 1954. On March 27, 1955, 1,000 men, women and children walked from Brown and Vine to The Chapel’s new home on Fir Hill. They sang hymns all the way.

The 1960's

Growth & Transition

From the beginning, there was a spirit of unity and oneness. When Carl Burnham died unexpectedly in 1962 following heart surgery, the church officially called his son David Burnham as senior pastor. The congregation purchased a camp in Edinburg, OH in 1964, renaming it Camp Carl in Carl Burnham’s memory. By 1969, membership had grown to 3,200.

1971-1982

Pastor Dave Burnham

Dave and his wife, Sue, wrote neighborhood Bible study materials and trained members who hosted more than 100 Bible studies in their homes throughout the Akron area. Campus ministries at the University of Akron and Kent State, and popular Christmas and Easter concerts were added during these years.

1973–1982

The congregation numbered 5,000. A new Worship Center was dedicated in 1973 and the original sanctuary was renamed Memorial Chapel. The Chapel at Fir Hill became The Chapel in University Park.

In 1982, Dave left Akron to pastor a church in Florida. Following an extensive search, Knute Larson and his wife, Jeanine, came here in 1983

1983 – 2009

Pastor Knute Larson

Under Knute’s leadership, Adult Bible Fellowships, ABFs, grew and the church helped ‘sister’ churches get started in Marlboro, North Canton, Kent, Hudson, Tinkers Creek, Sandusky and Medina. Knute was a familiar face around town – recognized from his :60 and :30 second television messages about faith, active on local boards and proactively partnering with Pastor Ron Fowler and the Arlington Church of God as leaders in a racial reconciliation movement.

2003

One Church, Two Locations

With attendance hovering at around 8,000 and multiple services maxed out, ‘20/20: The Next Chapter’ was launched. In June of 2003, the Green Campus opened its doors and The Chapel officially became ‘One Church, Two Locations.

2006-2012

Pastor Paul Sartarelli

As Knute planned for retirement, a search began for the next senior pastor. Paul Sartarelli, who had planted the Riverwood Chapel in Kent, accepted the call. Paul came with his wife, Susie, in a unique transitional phase in 2006. Knute officially passed the baton to Paul in June 2009.

During Paul’s tenure, The Chapel hosted a conference to raise awareness of human trafficking, discipleship programs grew and The Chapel became one church in three locations by receiving Valleyview Chapel in Wadsworth as a third campus. In 2012, Paul announced that God was calling him away from The Chapel. The search for a new leader began.

2014 – 2021

Pastor Tim Armstrong

In 2014, Pastor Tim Armstrong and his wife, Michelle, came to The Chapel from Mansfield, where Tim had previously pastored at Crossroads Community Church. Though Tim resigned from The Chapel in 2021, we remain grateful for what the Lord accomplished during his time with us. The Saturate campaign established new campuses throughout northeast Ohio; global outreach initiatives made new disciples around the world; many kids experiencing the personal nature of Jesus at Camp Carl; and thousands heard the truth of the Gospel. Despite our imperfect nature, the Lord is good.

Today

Next Steps for The Chapel

Our Board of Trustees is diligently seeking the Lord’s will and wisdom as they pursue long-term organizational and governance plans for The Chapel in the wake of Tim’s resignation. In this interim period, Brian Miller (Finance Director, Central Office) is serving as our Interim Executive Director, and Pastor Zac Derr (Campus Pastor, Wadsworth) is serving as our Interim Pastoral Lead, offering spiritual and pastoral leadership to our staff team and all Chapel campuses.

We are committed to seeing every person: believing in Jesus, belonging to family, becoming a disciple, building his kingdom

Akron Campus

Sunday services: 9am & 10:40am
Building hours: 9am - 5pm Tue.-Fri.
Address: 135 Fir Hill, Akron, Ohio 44304
Phone: 330.376.6400
Email: info@thechapel.life

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