We trace our roots to The Furnace Street Mission where newlyweds Carl and Agnes Burnham served before transforming a 20- x 50- foot storeroom into a church on Akron’s near west side.
The first service at The Chapel at Five Points was held on Jan. 15, 1934. Carl’s father, B.A. Burnham, preached at the 10:30am service; Carl preached at 7:30pm. Between 40 and 50 people attended.
1936 – 1955
Brown & Vine
In 1936, the growing church began raising money to purchase a lot of their own at the corner of Brown and Vine. Once there, volunteers built the basement of the structure where the congregation met for years. By 1947 when the building was completed, The Chapel at Brown and Vine had 450 members.
The Move to Fir Hill
When The Chapel outgrew its building at Brown and Vine, members voted to purchase a more centrally-located property nearby. The cornerstone was laid on Palm Sunday 1954. On March 27, 1955, 1,000 men, women and children walked from Brown and Vine to The Chapel’s new home on Fir Hill. They sang hymns all the way.
Growth & Transition
From the beginning, there was a spirit of unity and oneness. When Carl Burnham died unexpectedly in 1962 following heart surgery, the church officially called his son David Burnham as senior pastor. The congregation purchased a camp in Edinburg, OH in 1964, renaming it Camp Carl in Carl Burnham’s memory. By 1969, church membership had grown to 3,200.
Pastor Dave Burnham
Dave and his wife, Sue, wrote neighborhood Bible study materials and trained members who hosted more than 100 Bible studies in their homes throughout the Akron area. Campus ministries at the University of Akron and Kent State, and popular Christmas and Easter concerts were added during these years.
The congregation numbered 5,000. A new Worship Center was dedicated in 1973 and the original sanctuary was renamed The Memorial Chapel. The Chapel at Fir Hill became The Chapel in University Park.
In 1982, Dave left Akron to pastor a church in Florida. Following an extensive search, Knute Larson and his wife, Jeanine, came to The Chapel in 1983.
1983 – 2009
Pastor Knute Larson
Under Knute’s leadership, Adult Bible Fellowships (ABFs) grew and the church helped ‘sister’ churches get started in Marlboro, North Canton, Kent, Hudson, Tinkers Creek, Sandusky and Medina. Knute was a familiar face around town – recognized from his 60- and 30-second television messages about faith, activity on local boards and proactively partnering with Pastor Ron Fowler and the Arlington Church of God as leaders in a racial reconciliation movement.
One Church, Two Locations
With attendance hovering at around 8,000 and multiple services maxed out, 20/20: The Next Chapter was launched. In June 2003, the Green Campus opened its doors and The Chapel officially became "One Church, Two Locations."
Pastor Paul Sartarelli
As Knute planned for retirement, a search began for the next senior pastor. Paul Sartarelli, who had planted the Riverwood Chapel in Kent, accepted the call. Paul came with his wife, Susie, in a unique transitional phase in 2006. Knute officially passed the baton to Paul in June 2009.
During Paul’s tenure, The Chapel hosted a conference to raise awareness of human trafficking, discipleship programs grew and The Chapel became one church in three locations by receiving Valleyview Chapel in Wadsworth as a third campus. In 2012, Paul announced that God was calling him away from The Chapel. The search for a new leader began.
2014 – 2021
Pastor Tim Armstrong
In 2014, Pastor Tim Armstrong and his wife, Michelle, came to The Chapel from Mansfield, where Tim had previously pastored at Crossroads Community Church. Though Tim resigned from The Chapel in 2021, we remain grateful for what the Lord accomplished during his time with us. As part of the Saturate church-planting movement, new Chapel campuses were added in Kenmore, Cuyahoga Falls, Nordonia and Medina; global outreach initiatives made new disciples around the world; many kids experienced the personal nature of Jesus at Camp Carl; and thousands heard the truth of the gospel.
2021 - Today
The Chapel entered a season of reevaluation to seek the Lord for the best ways to serve our congregations and communities going forward. Following months of prayer and searching the scriptures, a recommendation was made to create a new church leadership model based on the biblical pattern of local churches led by a plurality of elders. Chapel trustees approved this plan and church members voted overwhelmingly to affirm it. As a result, individual church constitutions were written, and local elder boards were chosen so that the seven Chapel campuses could be relaunched as independent churches. All seven are expected to become independent churches by September 1, 2023.