Thomas Chapel AME Zion Church


The roots of the "old church" can be traced back to the year of 1863 when in those days everyone worshiped under the Brush Arbors.

Thomas Chapel was first founded and organized. The first official building was built in 1903. Forty years later, the church members had the building remodeled (1943). This re-modeling of the church upheld until the year of 1957 when the church was then completely re-built. The re-building of the church in 1957 was started under the leadership of the Rev. H. H. Grier. At that particular time, the Presiding Elder was Elder Seagal and the presiding Bishop was Bishop Walls. This was an exciting time for the church family because not only were they able to build a church, but they were also able to build a church parsonage. The first sermon was delivered in the "new church" in January of 1958, by the new pastor of Thomas Chapel, Rev. F. Percy Smith. Before this time, Thomas Chapel was on a circuit with Smyre's Chapel with services being held every other week at each church. When the new church was built, Thomas Chapel became a station church with a permanent pastor.

With the new building came strong church leaders who continued to carry the torch that their forefathers had passed on to them. The Steward Board was not active at that particular time, but Oscar Baker served as the Preacher's Steward. Some active members of the Trustee Board included: Ray Baker, Hiram Kincaid, Wally Rinehardt, H. A. Loritts, Walter Smith, Sr. and Hill Baker. As the years progressed, both boards grew stronger with leadership from other members of the church. In 1970, the church celebrated again with the laying of the cornerstone and the mortgage burning. The minister was Rev. C. W. Lewis with Rev. Burke serving as Presiding Elder and Rev. Raymond Luther Jones as Bishop. To help the church with the dedication, the Masonic Lodge #25 of Catawba laid the cornerstone. George Hewitt served as Wishful Master. Also part of the celebration was Mabel F. Jones, who was the Missionary Supervisor.

Over the years, God has blessed the families of the members of Thomas Chapel and these families have branched out to make the church family complete. Some of the families that make up the church congregation include: The Loritts, Smith, Baker, Rinehardt, Hunsucker, Caldwell and Lawrence families.

Ministers who have pastored this great church include the following Reverends: Wilcox, Goff, Burnette, Watkins, Seagle, Greer, Smith, Armstrong, Sims, Anthony, Lipsey, Remone, Little, Rev. Charles Lewis, Rev. Reginald Eldridge and Rev. Lenton D. Rhodes. Upon Rev. Rhodes' transfer to the Midwest Episcopal District in April 2011, Presiding Elder David R. Baker carried Thomas Chapel to the Annual Conference. A new Pastor was appointed at the 2011 WNC Annual Conference, Rev. Dwayne Tutt.

Service has been rendered by the following Presiding Elders: Glenn, Houston, Seagal, Burke, Anthony, Godfrey, Cuthbertson, Wilford L. Bailey and currently Presiding Elder David A. Baker. Service has also been rendered by the following Presiding Prelates: Bishop R.L. Jones, Bishop W.J. Walls, Bishop W.M. Smith, Bishop R.L. Speaks, Bishop Cecil Bishop and currently Bishop George W.C. Walker, Sr.

Thomas Chapel A. M. E. Zion Church has had help from many private citizens in order to make their building dreams come true. Special thanks is given to Adrian L. Shuford, Sr., to whom the church building is dedicated. An inscription can be found on the church building which reads: "To the memory of Adrian L. Shuford, Sr., whose love for his fellowman engendered the community spirit which made this house of worship a reality." To God be the glory, now and forever more.