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Chester Area Churches: A brief history

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The old Mount Hope Methodist Church, built in 1853, is now home to Hope United Methodist, which began using the building in January of this year. CHRIS EDWARDS | TCBThe old Mount Hope Methodist Church, built in 1853, is now home to Hope United Methodist, which began using the building in January of this year. CHRIS EDWARDS | TCB

By Chuck Davidson

Churches were and still are important aspects of life in Tyler County and I have focused on those I know about which served citizens in the greater Chester community.  I would encourage folks in Colmesneil, Doucette, Fred, Hillister, Spurger, Town Bluff, Warren, and Woodville to do something akin to what you see below: a history of all churches in the respective areas.

Any errors found below are mine and if someone does have additional information regarding one or more of those I have listed, please send to Chris Edwards, editor at the Booster, by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 409-283-2516.

Barnum First Baptist Church Active

1116 E Barnum Loop, Corrigan 936 398 2488

Current pastor:  Calvin Bittick

Brother Will Hutson visited folks in the area and held the first meeting at home of Oscar Swearingen on Nov. 20, 1955. They soon moved to an old railroad car secured from Carter Lumber Company in 1956 by the Clyde Phillips family.  The first service in church building on land donated by Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Swearingen was held Jan. 13, 1957 with the church dedication service held on August 18, 1957.

Charter members on April 15, 1956: Mr. and Mrs. Clyde Phillips; Evelyn Wilson; Ruby Phillips; Ebb and Carolyn Berry; Mr. and Mrs. Andy Barfield; Wayne Phillips; Mattie Powell; and Fluornoy and Vida McKinney.

Cade Memorial United Methodist Church Not active

177 FM 1745 W, Chester 

Named for Dr. Lawrence Cade (1868—1961) Began meeting in 1953; Church built in 1957 on Dr. Cade’s property with funding for church provided by Dr. Cade and Cecil Smith. Church closed in 2020 with property sold to Peachtree Community Church.

Caney Creek Baptist Church Active

1346 E Caney Loop, Chester 936 969 2220

Current pastor:  Russell Duplantis

Located in Polk County off FM 1745 W near Tyler-Polk county line.

Possibly organized about 1891 as a church and a school; school closed in 1914 when it consolidated with Chester. U G Feagin family donated building and four acres to the Caney Creek community for use as a church; empty by 1940’s.

1952 Brother Charley James, a BMA Baptist preacher, renewed services in old building with eight charter members; they voted to join the New Bethel Association in 1953 and Rev. W A Cockrell was called as pastor.  In 1969 Rev. George M. Standley became pastor followed by Brother Mark Martin.

Chester Baptist Church Active

FM 2097, Chester 936 969 2311

Current Pastor:  Hails Taylor In downtown Chester

Earliest record per the Sabine Neches Baptist association office in Kirbyville, indicates that the church existed in 1892.  Per records of James Best in book “A View from Bethel” the 1892 pastor was James Fowler.

Prior to 1925, members met in a Chester school building and that year a building was completed to be used by any denomination, but mostly Baptists and Methodists did so.  Baptist were part time and in 1936 voted to go half-time sharing same pastor with Mount Zion Baptist.  In 1941 the same pastor served three churches:  Chester, Enon, and Mount Zion and a parsonage was built for him.  In 1958 the Methodists left as they had built their own church and Chester became full-time with a full-time pastor.  Additions to church added on in 1977; Rev. Howard Thrift was pastor in 1980.

Enon Baptist Church Active

9418 1745 N, Chester 936 969 2394

Organized 10 Sept. 1881 by Rev. Arnold Rhodes

First pastor Sam Mann Charter member families:   Richardson, Watts, Irons, and Seamans.

Early Baptist churches tended to meet one Sunday each month; over time some became half-time (met twice a month) then full-time (meet every Sunday) which Enon is now.

Annual homecoming events held second Sunday in September.

Current interim pastor: Paul Fregia

Hampton Full Gospel (Pentecostal) Church

15485 US 287, Chester Not active

On hill behind former home of James Loving just inside city limits.

Built in late 1940’s, originally named Pentecostal Church of God before James Loving became pastor in 1970’s.  Closed about 2005.

Property owned by Chester ISD

Hope United Methodist Church Active

296 CR 2615 on CR 2600 just off FM 1745 N about one mile east of the Mount Hope cemetery

Current pastor:  Rev. Ernest “Ernie” Turney No phone

For information:  email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

New congregation formed in late 2022 with first service held at the 1910 historic United Methodist church in January of 2023.

Charter members: S and B Allison, J and L Boone, S and D Gallier, J and O Gazzaway, M Gazzaway, M Jackson, C Ostrander, J and B Roth, C Shields, W Smith, J and R Springfield, H and M Stark, F Sullivan, A Turney, W Waters.

Lilly Island Missionary Baptist Church Active

Current pastor: Michael Hulett 936 398 4902

Located on Lilly Island Loop off FM 942

Began meeting where Lilly Island Cemetery is now, on property donated by the John Havis family in the 1880’s.   Moved closer to Camden off FM 942 in 1903.

Serves the communities of Barnes, Lilly Island, Camden, and Chester.

Mount Hope United Methodist Church Not active

CR 2615, off CR 2600 off FM 1745N, Chester

A Methodist Episcopal South parsonage was built about 1853 as a church had been organized in home of James Barnes prior to 1850 near Russell Creek. Property conveyed in 1853 by Mount Hope Chapel board served as a Free Protestant church, a Masonic lodge, and a school. The current historic church was built in the same location in 1910.  It became part of the United Methodist denomination in 1968. After Cade Memorial UMC opened, services were held once a quarter with final MHUMC meeting held in 2019.

The Hope United Methodist Church congregation began meeting in Jan. of 2023 with Rev. Ernest “Ernie” Turney leading worship.

Mount Zion Baptist Church Not active

Original church on current FM 1745 N east of Chester about one mile west of the current Mount Hope Cemetery:  organized in 1830’s with first church bult about 1845 on land behind “the old Jim Powell house”.  Building moved in 1870 to current location on US 287 towards Woodville (church and cemetery)

Land donated for church and cemetery by Joseph Peters

Early pastor:  Rev. E Vining (died in 1855 at age of 39)

1853:  Had 12 members when it joined the current New Bethel Association

Last regular service held about 1988.

Palestine Missionary Baptist Church Active

161 Church Rd., just north-west of Chester off US 287, in Polk County

Current pastor:  J D Baisey 936 969 2524

Located next to “Jack Darden Community Center” which opened in 2019

Peachtree Community Church Active

Organized and first met at Kirby Chapel, Camp Ta Ku La, Chester in 2018 led by Marcus Redwine.  They purchased the closed Cade United Methodist church property in Feb. of 2021 and Pastor Billy Ringo now leads worship services.

Now meeting at 177 FM 1745, Chester, TX 75936 936 969 3124

Pine Grove Church of Christ Active

146 Pinegrove Church Rd., Corrigan, TX 75939 936 398 5036

Off FM 62 just west from US 287 (church and cemetery)

Early church and school built about 1881 with cemetery in operation by 1882.  Early name was Pine Grove Christian Church; became Church of Christ about 1915.  The current fellowship building, built about 1910, was given by the Camden Baptist Church to Pine Grove about 1970.  The original church/school burned about 1920 and two buildings built closer to US 62 in the early ‘20’s; a school which closed in 1936 and was torn down, and the church, which still stands and is in use.

Leader: Norman Turner

Pleasant Valley Pentecostal Church Not active

Chester, TX

Located in city limits on east side of US 287 next to Dry Creek

It was built in the late 1940’s and the Kraus and Priest families were active in it; Rachel (Kraus) Woodrome was one of the early pastors before James Loving felt called about 1975, following several others.  It closed after Pastor Loving left in late 1970’s. It was used briefly as a guitar making building about 1980 when it closed permanently.

Hurricane Rita in 2005 moved the building, already closed, off its beams.

Sunny Dell Missionary Baptist Church Not active

Off FM 1745 N, Colmesneil, TX

Organized by Rev. Arnold Rhodes 22 April 1882

Land donated by James Sturrock

Met fourth Sunday each month; with 14 charter members

New church building 1913 (still standing)

Services discontinued 1955; annual homecomings held fourth Sunday in July

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