When Berkeley Lake subdivision was developed in 1950, it was anticipated that it would be a place where property owners would have lake privileges, and some would build “summer” or “weekend” cottages. It began to appear that Berkeley Realty and Investment Company, owners of the lake and unsold lots, was not looking after the interests of the property owners. This was the occasion in 1953 for the organization of the Lake Berkeley Civic Association. A year or two later, Mr. and Mrs. C. M. Parsons and Mr. and Mrs. John W. Bagwell purchased the Berkeley Realty and Investment Company. With brighter hopes and a growing interest, the Lake Berkeley Civic Association acted to obtain a city charter in 1956.
With the full cooperation of the civic association, the corporation and the city, all utilities have been obtained, the streets have been paved, and street lights and fire hydrants have been installed. This has resulted in a change from the original outlook to a beautiful lake with fine permanent homes. But there was no church!
A survey revealed that there were not enough of any one denomination to provide the familiar kind of church, but the interest was so intense that some provision for worship services in the city had to be made. It was decided to organize an interdenominational chapel to provide for worship services and Christian fellowship in the community, but not to interfere with regular church affiliation.
On April 1, 1959, a charter was granted for Lake Berkeley Chapel, Incorporated. A meeting was called for the afternoon of May 3, 1959, at the home of Mr. and Mrs. John W. Bagwell, at which time the organization was effected and the first officers were elected. A campaign was started to raise funds for the erection of a suitable building, but the response was insufficient. It was decided to proceed with worship services at 8:45 a.m. on the first Sunday of each month, and the Bagwells offered the use of their home for this purpose.
The first such service was in November 1959, with twenty-nine people present. Services were conducted each month at the Bagwell home for nine years. An Easter Sunrise Service was planned and held on April 22, 1960, and such a service has been held each succeeding year, except in 1967, at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Byrum O. Greene.
Through the years additional efforts were made to plan for the erection of a suitable building, but without success. The Bagwells were very gracious and patient. In fact, they made provisions for the worshipers so convenient and comfortable, serving such delightful breakfasts, that some thought the reluctance to leave the Bagwells’ was the cause of failure to complete plans for the erection of a building. Those who enjoyed the hospitality of the Bagwells can never repay them for what they did for the chapel, but will always be grateful to them.
Early in 1968 the officers and directors appointed a new Building Planning Committee. They were asked to prepare plans and an estimate of cost for a building which would be suitable for worship services and for Lake Berkeley Civic Association activities. The committee presented the plans and report to the officers and directors, and they were received with enthusiasm. A business meeting of the membership was called for June 2, 1968, at which time it was voted unanimously to proceed with the erection of the building. The treasurer reported a balance of about $5,500 which provided for construction to begin immediately. An appeal for contributions was made and the response was gratifying.
Mr. Herbert H. Davis was appointed Building Superintendent and he supervised construction and dealt with sub-contractors. Several retirees and others offered their services, and most of the work was performed by property owners. The amounts expended for services were for the footings, the plumbing, including septic tank system, concrete block and brick work, cement floor finishing, restroom and floor tile, applying roof shingles and installing the furnace. All other services were by our own people.
The Land upon which the building was erected was acquired title free in 1975, after being leased from Berkeley Realty rent free before that time.
The testament of faith and fellowship made the original Dedication Service possible as well as this rededication today. For this we are indeed grateful.
From the Twentieth Anniversary of The Dedication service held in 1989.
In 2005 the chapel was extensively remodeled and updated thanks to the donations of many individuals. In 2006 the kitchen was extensively remodeled and updated thanks to a very generous donation from Mildred Wilkerson.
Lake Berkeley Chapel celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2009. See our celebration pictures here.