Celebrating a Century of Family and Faith
As Lee’s Summit celebrates its Sesquicentennial, Longview Chapel Christian Church, a community establishment with long ties and great traditions, will celebrate its 100th anniversary this year with many special events.
Founded by R.A. Long as a small chapel and one-room classroom on the historic Longview Farm property, Longview Chapel was built to provide the farm residents a place of worship. The Chapel was dedicated in December 1915 and included a bell in the tower to call all to worship – the same bell tower still used today. The location was chosen for its beautiful surroundings of green pastures and large shade trees – many of which still stand today – truly a “Little Church in the Wildwood.”
The building served as church, local school and social center for the farm. Over the years, the Chapel served that purpose well – tending to the spiritual needs of farm residents. The Chapel was exclusively supported by the Long family through the mid-1930s until Long’s death. Then, the building became the responsibility of the congregation.
Over the years, the Chapel has persevered and celebrated many milestones:
– In 1965, after a steady decline in attendance and activity due to farm families moving out of the area, the congregation met in December to celebrate 50 years of service. They decided there was a need and viability for continued ministry.
-In April 1976, the Chapel suffered a great loss when lightning struck, causing a fire that damaged most of the interior. The congregation restored the Chapel in less than five months.
-In December 1981, the congregation received the deed and title to the building from the Long Family. The Chapel was renamed Longview Chapel Christian Church and the congregation assumed full responsibility for its upkeep.
-In the 1980s, the Chapel received the historic recognition it deserved – being placed on the National Register of Historic Places. However, by the mid-1990’s, Chapel membership had dwindled to just 12 families and the future of the Chapel was in doubt. Funds were available to support a year's salary for a full-time minister, so the congregation decided to take a risk, attempting to keep the Chapel doors open.
-From 1996-2000, under the leadership of its new full-time and first female minister, Reverend Jan Keeler, new life flocked to the Chapel, bringing with it an unprecedented increase from 12 to almost 150 active families in less than four years. Due to this influx of worshipers, the Chapel and Disciples of Christ Regional Boards approved an expansion of the existing Chapel. Beautiful new windows in memory of loved ones were added to the sanctuary, and a restoration was undertaken to bring the Chapel back to its former glory, including the construction of the new Long Hall with a modern kitchen, new classrooms, meeting rooms and a nursery.
-In December 2000, an 85th anniversary celebration and dedication of new children's classrooms was held, followed by dedication of the new Long Fellowship Hall, and more building expansion.
Since 2005, under the leadership of current minister Reverend Gary Blakeman, the Chapel has continued to grow. Both Keeler and Blakeman have been responsible for the influx of young families and children, the lifeblood of any church. Today, the Chapel boasts more than 200 active families, over a dozen active Chapel Ministry Teams and a strong church board. A cornerstone for the Chapel’s rebirth is a series of strong ministry leaders who have called Longview their home over the years. One ministry, the Willing Workers, was started in 1916, as a Sunday school class of young girls. Almost 100 years later, the group continues as one of the Chapel’s thriving ministries.
For its Centennial anniversary, special events honoring the past century are planned, including an Ice Cream Social (Aug. 9), a Gospel Sing and Roast (Sept. 12), a Fall Festival (Oct. 25), a Winter Bazaar (Nov. 20-22), and a Centennial Worship Finale (Dec. 13). For more information, visit LongviewChapelCC.org.