History of Lanes Chapel

Lanes Chapel has a very rich history in Tyler going back to the late 1800. 

Mr. Lane was a local man who had an interest in organizing a church that was truly part of the community.  His efforts began by holding Prayer Meetings in his own home for a while.  Mr. Lane donated a small piece of land for a church to be built. This land was located about 7 miles south of the city limits of Tyler at that time,  on Old Bullard Rd just south of Mud Creek, close to what is now the intersection of South Broadway and Robert E Lee Dr.  This new church was organized and built in early 1883, named after its founder and opened its doors to 10 straight days of Prayer Meetings!

The newly formed Lanes Chapel’s first Pastor was a man named Uncle Caleb Smith. Smith must have been a colorful figure.  It is said that when Smith would pass the collection plate around, he would say in a loud voice “Let’s remember that the Lord loves a cheerful giver!”

For many years, Lanes Chapel was a circuit church, sharing a minister with Liberty Hill Methodist Church of Tyler. 

 

By 1921, the original church building was beginning to show its age and was in need of repair.

Church members decided it would be better to move the building to a new location, closer to the growth of the city, than it would be to repair and remodel the church in its present location.  A new location was needed, and the Lord met that need.  Mr. & Mrs. Clenn Rice donated a small piece of land.  In 1922, the original church building was moved onto its new location, located at the NW corner of the modern day intersection of Rice Rd and Old Bullard Road.  The Rev. J.C. Calhoun preached the first sermon in the new location.

In late 1946, the church members began the task of lovingly and carefully disassembling the old church building, with the intent of using every nail and board to go back into the new building. By May of 1947, the new brick church building was competed. The first sermon in the new building was delivered by District Superintendent Robert Goodrich, Sr., with more than 150 people in attendance!  This building still stands today at 5001 Old Bullard Road in Tyler.   An additional wing was added to the building in 1953.  It would be used as a Fellowship Hall with a kitchen.

The little church on the corner was given the most appropriate name by Reverend Boyd Baker during his Ministry to Lanes Chapel from 1966-1969. He called it:

"Lovely Lanes Chapel Methodist Church"

 

The years passed quickly for the little church on the corner.  

There were many years with no records kept.   For whatever reason, the membership numbers began to slowly decrease as the ages of the members increased.  The laughter of children was scarce as the little Methodist Church on the corner began to fade.  By the late 1980’s there were only 7 members left with the average age of 80.  But The Lord had big plans for Lanes Chapel.

In 1989, Bro. Lou Gary Thomas was given the task of “growing” Lanes Chapel and agreed to become a part time Pastor.  This marked “the turnaround years”, as church member Fairy McCormick called it.  “He lost no time getting things going.” said Fairy.  New goals were established, internal functions revised, new membership goals were established and facilities improved.  Bro. Lou challenged the members to invite everyone they knew to come see their ‘crazy” new Pastor.    As Bro. Lou revived the congregation and preached to the visitors, the church grew…..and grew….and grew!

But by 1994, Lanes Chapel faced an entirely new challenge….not enough room.  They discussed going to 2 services, adding on to the current building, moving into a new location, anything to accommodate the surge of new members.  In 1995, DR. C.E. Willingham donated land  on Old Jacksonville Hwy in Tyler, TX to be used for new facilities.  Fundraising began and  the property on Old Bullard Rd was put up for sale!

 

After what seemed like an eternity, a buyer for the original property was secured. 

 In 1998 the first Worship service was held at the new Old Jacksonville location, in a temporary metal building.   It was small, but adequate for the mean time, with 2 offices, a small kitchen area and room for Worship Services. Construction started on the new permanent facilities.  The plans were to build a wing of classrooms, a large kitchen, offices, playground,  parlor and a roomy "Sanctinasium". By 1999 the congregation enjoyed its first Worship service in the newly completed building. The temporary metal building was converted into the Youth Building.  Things were really "on a roll", or so it seemed. But no one could have predicted the growth that was just around the corner! 

 

Soon after moving into the new facilities, the congregation began to realize that God had BIG plans for Lanes Chapel.

From 1999 through 2002, "Lovely Lanes Chapel Methodist Church" grew from a small church to a BIG church!  For 300 Sundays in a row, families heard the call from the Lord to join Lanes Chapel.  And boy did they join!  In those years, you were never sure if a new face you saw on Sunday was a visitor or one of the new members....they just kept on coming and joining.  It was a very exciting time! The growth happened so fast that it was hard to keep up.  Soon there would be 2 Worship Services, then 3 Worship Services, then an additional block of time was added for more Sunday school classes every Sunday morning.  It soon became evident that the "new roomy" building and facilities would not work for much longer. 

In 2007, the congregation voted to build a multi-million dollar facility! Plans were drawn up, fundraising began and so did the prayers!  This new facility would have an even larger Sanctuary, state of the art sound system, and double the classrooms. That same year, an additional 10 acres that was adjacent to the property was purchased for $215,000.00.  Early 2009 the newly purchased land was finished out  into a baseball field by the Durrett Family, and dedicated In Memory of Lleyton Keith Durrett, the infant son of Drew and Ashley Durrett. 

 

In 2009, the begining of change....

The first worship services were held in the newly built facilites in the fall of 2009.  The original Sanctinasium was converted to a Family Life Center and Gymnasium. The original Sunday School classrooms were dedicated to the Children's Ministry.  But that was not the only big change the Lord had in mind for the lovely Lanes Chapel United Methodist Church.  In October 2011, the much loved Bro. Lou Gary Thomas passed away suddenly.  He served Lanes Chapel faithfuly for 22 years.  The congregation mourned the passing of it's long time sheperd, but had faith in The Lord's plan for the Lanes Chapel family.  Within a few months, in February 2012, the Lord called a new Pastor for Lanes Chapel, Bro. Jeff Gage.   Lanes Chapel continues to grow and serve the Lord year after year.