After attending an evening service at a local Bible Church, Walt and Leona Fast and David and Doris Holman met at the Howard Johnson Hotel for coffee. The conversation turned to the subject of “is there another church we could attend in the St. Joseph area?” The Holmans mentioned that the Evangelical Free Church would provide help in starting or planting a church. However there was no more mention of the subject until the fall of that year at a group Bible study. It was then decided to call Rev. Wesley Johnson, Superintendent of the Great Lakes District, to determine if he would meet with a group of people interested in starting an Evangelical Free Church..
In January, Wes was called and he agreed to stop by for a meeting on his way back from Grand Rapids. A group of about 8 couples met with Wes in the basement of People’s Bank (today’s Fifth Third Bank). There was a snow storm, so the Brohmans and the Wurzels were unable to attend. In fact, no one was sure if Wes would be there, but he made it. Nothing more was said about the matter while this group waited to see if there was genuine interest in starting a new church. By early summer people were asking about the status of the plans to move forward, so Wes was asked again to come and provide more specific details on how a church could be started. He suggested starting with a Bible study. That was established and interest grew until it was decided to start having evening services.
This group of believers started having evening services in January, meeting in the basement of the bank. Speakers ranged from local pastors to Trinity Evangelical Divinity School professors. As a new church, their location moved several times from People’s Bank to the Unitarian Church in St. Joseph; then it was on to St. Luke’s Lutheran in Stevensville and then the Thornton’s rented home for several weeks while negotiations were completed in November with the Southtown Twin Theaters.
In July this young group of believers called Rick Thompson (now Superintendent of the Great Lakes District) to be their pastor, but he did not feel led to accept this call.
Two months later, in September, The Chapel then called Peter Dybvad to be their pastor, and he accepted their call with a start date of January 1, 1980, arriving in late December. It was in November that Articles of Incorporation were filed with the State of Michigan and the charter members were: Rick and Karen Brohman, Bill and Ilene Douce, Walt and Leona Fast, Dave and Doris Holman, and Bill and Jan Wurzel.
With the dawn of a new year, worship services began on Sunday mornings at the Theaters.
In May, Pastor Peter Dybvad and Dave Holman met with Hermann Herbstreit about purchasing 6.7 acres for a church building. Meeting with the church a second time, The Chapel accepted his offer at a cost of approximately thirty-five thousand dollars. By June, The Chapel started meeting with an architect to design the first phase of the planned building project.
In the Spring, the financing was arranged and the building plans were finalized. Construction started that summer with the building being completed in November. The Chapel’s first worship service was held in its new building on November 17.
As the Lord enabled the congregation to grow, additional adjoining land was acquired and the second Christian education wing was added.
The Chapel’s second Senior Pastor, Rev. Philip C. Bubar and his family arrived in July, moving from his previous 17-year pastorate in eastern Pennsylvania.
With continual growth, a third Christian education wing was added, bringing the complex to a total of 24,000 square feet.
With forward vision, The Chapel began a five-year process of adding their present new worship center.
Ground breaking took place on Father’s Day of 2005 and the dedication service was held on September 10, 2006. The new addition is approximately 19,000 square feet, with the worship center being 10,000 square feet, with room to seat 750.