Christian Methodist Episcopal Church

First CME Bishop William H. Miles; Graduating class at Paine College, circa 1901; early CME mission church

The Colored Methodist Episcopal Church, or the CME Church as it is commonly called, came into existence as a result of the movement from slavery to freedom. During the years following the birth of Methodism, the denomination grew rapidly. The Methodist Episcopal Church South was an outgrowth of Wesley's Methodism. Some Blacks, converted to Christianity by slave masters, accepted the Methodist doctrine as it was. However, with the passage of time, the emancipation of Blacks from slavery created the desire by Blacks to have and control their own church. This desire led formerly enslaved persons who had been members of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, to start their own independent religious organization.
The Organizers: Forty-one men who has exemplified leadership qualities gathered together in Jackson, Tennessee on December 16, 1870. With the advice and assistance of the white brethren of the C.M.E. Church South, the Black religious leaders organized the colored branch of Methodism. On Tuesday, December 20, they adopted the Methodist South's Book of Discipline and on Wednesday, December 21, they elected two of their own preachers - William H. Miles of Kentucky and Richard H. Vanderhorst of Georgia - as their bishops. Gathering in Jackson with only a dream, the religious leaders departed with their own church a reality. www.c-m-e.org

Hamlet Chapel C.M.E. Church

"Upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it". Jesus spoke these words to Peter when they arrived on the coast of Cesarea at Phillippi. The founders of Hamlet Chapel envisioned building on such a rock in 1866, when it was built on its present location. Prior to 1866, the colored members worshipped at Mt. Pleasant Methodist Church South with the whites.
Hamlet Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church is one of the oldest churches in the C.M.E. Conference.  Its roots are deeply embedded throughout the community. Hamlet Chapel is the Mother Church of Staunton Memorial in Pittsboro, St. Joseph in Chapel Hill, and Faucette Memorial and Russell Memorial, both in Durham.
Since 1866, forty pastors have worked fervently with the members, many of whom can trace their heritage to the founders. The visions of the founders and the support of the members led to the erection of the wooden structure in 1866. The newly organized church was called Hamlet Chapel, so named after the donors of the land, Mr. and Mrs. O. P. Hamlet. The first Trustees were Benjamin Burnette, Murphy Burnette, Robert Cotten, Robert Bynum and James Neville.
The Hamlet Chapel of the past has earned our unreserved appreciation. The hope of the future is that Hamlet Chapel Church be strengthened beyond her fondest dreams by our faith, support and commitment.
"Go forth old church, go forth! Let us unite our hearts and efforts together in Christian love and pledge to God that, we the members of Hamlet Chapel will do our part in making conditions better by being true Christians."
The first pastor was the Reverend Cane Blackman. During his seven-year tenure, from 1866 to 1873 with the men doing the labor and the women preparing the food, the structure was completed. They could truly say, "I Love My Church O God." The wisdom and alertness of Reverend Blackman manifested in the organization of the church, realizing that spiritual and human needs are definitely related. In 1871, Hamlet Chapel became a part of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church.
Reverend Hollman succeeded Reverend Blackman. Under his administration, the building was completed and the first cornerstone laid. Next in succession were Reverend Welch and Reverend Cross. Each made contributions, increasing the membership and unifying the community.
About 1883, Reverend S. S. Buckman was the next minister. He served four years. The spiritual fever was high during this period. There were great revivals and many acknowledged the new birth and joined the church. Under this administration a new and larger structure was built.
A succession of pastors followed, each making a significant contribution to the spiritual and physical growth of this thriving church.They were Reverends Simms, McCrimmons, Richwine, Flax, Suart Richardson, J. S. Miller, Juden Jones, Yarbow and L. L. Sinclaire.
Reverend J. C. Staunton served next as pastor. The achievements during his administration were many and the church flourished. New leaders came on the horizon. They were Abraham Burnette, Robert Perry, Peter Bell, Sr., Ed Cotten, Johnnie Foushee and Curney Bynum. These men had a great impact on the growth of the church and are fondly called "Our Later Founding Fathers."
Our next pastors were Reverends Perry, G. W. Roberts, W. T. Jones, W. D. Woods, J. B. Floyd, G. W. Rosser, B. E. Golphin, W. D. Lyles,, Nelsen Crisp, J. R. Meredith, Hazel, and H. A. Washington. Reverend Washington served from 1939 to 1941. Our church continued to prosper under their leadership.
Reverend J. H. Thomas succeeded Reverend Washington in 1941 and served until 1948. During his administration, a new brick sanctuary was built, replacing the wooded structure. The new church was dedicated and the cornerstone laid. This was one of the greatest works of his pastorate. Ed Cotten was Chairman of the Steward Board during construction of the new sanctuary. He served as Chairman for twenty years, serving from 1925 to 1945.
Reverend C. R. White Reverend C. R. White was the next assigned minister in 1948 to 1953. The financial status of the church soared to new heights. The church interior was completed and all outstanding debts were paid. The Willing Workers Club was organized and Reverend Macon Clark preached his initial sermon under his administration.
Reverend J. H. Lightsey Reverend J. H. Lightsey was our next pastor in 1953 to 1958. The Male Chorus was organized under his leadership. In 1954, the General Conference change the name of our denomination from Colored Methodist Episcopal Church to Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. Under his administration Reverend James Cotten and Reverend Peter Bell, Jr. preached their initial sermon.
Reverend C. M. Savoy Reverend C. M. Savoy pastored Hamlet Chapel for five years from 1958 to 1963. The church annex was built during his tenure. The annex had upper and lower levels, including a kitchen and bathrooms. Rufus Fearrington, his sons and church members were responsible for this construction project. N. T. Cotten was Chairman of the Steward Board for twenty-seven years, serving in that capacity from 1945 to 1972.
Reverend W. W. Gary Reverend W. W. Gary came to the pastorate in 1963 filled with vigor of youth and served until 1969. He enthusiastically initiated a standardized budget, giving each member a copy of the total financial program of the church for the conference year. Reverend Gary was instrumental in the organization of Stewardess Board #2 and the Joy Bells. Alease Burnette served as Stewardess Board #2 president until 1987.
Reverend David W. Reynolds Reverend David W. Reynolds succeeded Rev. W. W. Gary in 1969 until 1973 . During his four year tenure, we were able to erect the church parsonage. The church parsonage land was donated by the descendants of the late Abraham and Wescott Burnette. Isaiah Burnette was Chairman of the Steward Board from 1972 until 1981 and was instrumental in overseeing this project. Reverend Reynolds, interested in the youth, organized a junior choir. A bus was purchased to assure transportation was available to all members who desired to attend. The C. R. White and Rebecca Baldwin Missionary Circle were named during his administration.
Reverend David S. Ray Reverend David S. Ray served faithfully from 1973 to 1979. It was under his leadership that the parsonage indebtedness was liquidated. He was also responsible for organizing a Young Adult Choir and Stewardess Board #3 in 1975. Under his administration, church renovation plans and renovation fund raising activities were initiated and Hamlet Chapel became a "station church."
Reverend James Ledbetter Reverend James Ledbetter was assigned to Hamlet Chapel in July 1979 until 1983. A "Mortgage Burning" ceremony for the parsonage was held on March 23, 1980. Under Reverend Ledbetter's guidance, the Morning Glory Choir was organized, a van was purchased and the Laymen's Prayer Breakfast initiated. In 1980, Attorney Robert Epting executed the Articles of Incorporation documents. During his administration, Reverend Albert Williams began serving as an Associate Minister.
Reverend A. C. Crumbley, Jr. Reverend A. C. Crumbley, Jr. came to us from the Southwest Georgia Conference in 1983 until 1986. He established a radio and television ministry. Under his administration, we were able to raise sufficient funds to begin renovating our church. The renovations included a larger kitchen, bathrooms, office, pastor's study, finance and stewardess rooms. The lights in the sanctuary were donated by Charlie and Louise Baldwin in honor of the late Thomas L. Fikes. The cornerstone was laid on April 12, 1986 by the Mt. Olive Lodge No. 36 of Chapel Hill. During Reverend Crumbley's tenure, the Young Adult Choir's name was changed to the Voices of Hope.
Reverend W. F. Lowe Reverend W. F. Lowe served from 1986 to 1994. He initiated many new programs including the food distribution program for the needy. He organized the Tot's and Voices Unlimited Choirs, hosted a community Christmas dinner, retired the pulpit bible in 1988 and replaced it with a new bible, given by the Burnette Family in honor of Burkett and Carrie Burnette and Wilbert M. Burnette. A church van, piano, drums, and new parsonage furniture were purchased. The Cemetery Committee was formed. The first Family and Friends Day was organized and celebrated in September, 1990. A Mortgage Burning ceremony was held March, 1993. Reverends Johnny Moore, John Wesley Johnson, and Henry Sanders served as Associate Ministers. Reverend Delores Perry preached her initial sermon in 1988. Sisters Ernestine Perry and Stephanie Moore also preached their initial sermons.
Reverend Jeremiah Isaac During Reverend Jeremiah Isaac's administration from 1994 to 2000, the church roof and heating and air condition units were replaced. Parsonage furniture, a copy machine and computer were purchased. The church pews were padded and new carpet was installed. A series of workshops were held including officers and member's classes. The church held its first Musical Extravaganza. The Voices of Hope name changed to the Gospel Choir. The Lay Council was reorganized and sponsored a "Love Is" Banquet. Sister Phyllis Cameron and Brothers Russell Burnette and Andre Allen preached their initial sermons. The Hosanna Praise and Worship Dance Team was organized in November 1999. The church accepted an invitation to participate in Partnership for an Active Pittsboro (PACT) project.
Reverend James N. Howard Reverend James N. Howard was our 39th pastor who served from 2000 to 2005. A series of educational sessions were held for the officers. The Health Ministry presented a series of health education classes beginning in November, 2000 and held its first Health Fair May 5, 2001. The Hosanna Praise and Worship Dance Team held its first gala in November, 2000. In February, 2001, the Missionary Society had its first Annual Sweetheart Tea and the New Generation Joy Bells recognized the original Joy Bells. In conjunction with The Board of Christian Education, the church received a grant to purchase exercise equipment from the PACT project. Under his administration, the kitchen stove and refrigerator were converted to conventional standards, concrete walkways around the church were laid, our parking area was paved, acrylic window coverings were installed to protect our stained glass windows, and the first church pictorial directory was completed. In 2003, Reverend Phyllis Rhone was appointed pastor at Guilford Chapel and Reverend Delores Perry was appointed pastor at Chalk Level.
Reverend Charles E. Robertson Reverend Charles E. Robertson was appointed as our 40th pastorin July, 2005. Reverend Robertson loves God's people and loves serving God's Church. Since his appointment, he has instituted Intercessory Prayer, a Radio Ministry, Tape Ministry, Christian Men's Fellowship, Church Newsletter, New Member's Class and our 140th Church Anniversary Gala. The Young Adult Council, Board of Evangelism and the Acolytes have been reinstated. An electric piano was purchased, new furnishings were purchased for the pastor's office and alter, new lights and ceiling fans were installed in the annex, and ceiling fans were installed in the sanctuary. Also, Reverend Robertson was instrumental in getting our church website established.
Pastor Venessa Hughes In July, 2017, Pastor Venessa Hughes was appointed as our 41st pastor. Pastor Hughes loves God's youth and young adults. Since her appointment, she has received the vision for Hamlet Chapel C.M.E. Church to get prepared to load the train to GLORY. We may need to repair some tracks and make sure the train is filled with the LOVE of God, so that all will want to ride and work on the train! A Church Member Directory is going to be prepared and issued to all the members. John 4:29 "Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did; is not this the Christ?"
Hamlet Chapel Website Committee | January 2019