It was in 1884 that group of citizens banded together, in the city of Columbus, Georgia, for the purpose of organizing a church. On May 9, 1884 these organizers appealed to the commissioners of the commons of the city of Columbus, Georgia, and obtained authorization for the selection of a lot which to build and develop their church.
On July 10, 1885, fourteen months later, the president and secretary of the city commission were instructed to execute a deed to the trustees of this church for the lot chosen and authorized to be set apart to them. Eight days later a deed was executed and issued to Newton Everett, Ezekiel Weems, and Charles Dunn for lot one (1) in block forty-three 43) of the plan and survey of the commons land which had been approved by the General Assembly of Georgia to be held in trust by the Commissioners of Commons of the city of Columbus, Georgia and authorized for church purposes.
In 1886, the first church building was completed on the corner of Eighth Street and Eighth Avenue. However, it was not listed in the city’s directory until 1888; it was listed as Everett Chapel. The church was undoubtedly named in honor of Newton Everett, founding member and trustee. Newton Everett would later enter the ministry, and eventually became the pastor of Everett Chapel in 1891. The pastor at the time was Reverend P.W. Powell, and worship services were held at 11AM and 3:30PM, with Church School convening at 9:30AM.
In 1894, the church was re-organized under the name of Holsey Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (named in honor of Lucius Henry Holsey, 3rd CME Bishop elected 1873, who was born near Columbus, Georgia, and the presiding prelate at the time). Rev. C.T. Shatteen was pastor of the church during this era, and pastured the church into the 20th century (1894 – 1904).
Rev. Lloyd McAfee would become the pastor of Holsey Chapel in 1904, and would serve the church for 12 years until 1916. Under his leadership efforts were made to organize another church. This church was to be further north of the immediate city, for those persons who lived below Fifteenth Street. By 1914, the new church, Holsey Monumental CME church, located at 317 Eighteenth Street, was an integral part of the city of Columbus, Georgia, and its members began working for their own autonomy and development.
In 1915, the church building was destroyed by a storm. It was said that the church was struck by lightning and destroyed by fire. The members would be faced with a significant challenge to reconstruct the church and reestablish records undoubtedly lost in the fire.
On July 19, 1916, the trustees of Holsey Chapel CME church went to the commissioners of the commons of the city of Columbus, Georgia to ask for a replacement of the deed given to
the trustees in 1885 for the property on which the church sat. The preacher in charge was Reverend F.L. Bouey. Trustees Robert Harris, James H. Caster and W.J. Caulton received a second deed replacing the lost deed.
In 1919, the new church structure was completed and once again the pastor was Reverend L.D. McAfee. Holsey Chapel would receive a new pastor in 1921, Reverend Samuel A. Dunbar, who would be the first pastor to occupy the new parsonage which was built adjacent to the church.
The next three pastors of the church would be Reverend Lewis J. Pearcey in 1923; Reverend Talton C. Cunningham in 1927; during which a church newsletter was established – The Home Circle; and Reverend Lewis J. Pearcey in 1928. Reverend M. Means became pastor in 1931 and would move the evening worship to 7:30PM. Followed by Reverend John T. Cochran in 1934, who was succeeded by Reverend Edward Roberts in 1936, when he was assigned to Holsey Monumental.
In 1941, Holsey Chapel would receive new leadership.
In 1946, the “little wooden church” on the corner was torn down and a new brick structure was erected. Brother C.S. McBride submitted the plans for the new sanctuary and extension. The builders contracted were A.O.Blackmon and Cardell Jones, who were African American contractors. While the new church was being constructed, services were held in the Simpson Chapel Methodist church, presently known as M.L. Harris United Methodist church. Paying off the mortgage for the new church was not an easy task, and several times the members were hard pressed to meet mortgage payments and keep the church from going into foreclosure. A general estimate of the church and assets was $85,000. As a result of dedicated members, who personally struggled to raise funds, the payments were met. It was during these years of growth and struggle, under the leadership of Reverend Dunbar, that the Holsey Chapel Junior Choir (later named the Inspirational Choir), was organized with approximately ten members: Mary Arnold, Helen Kenebrew, Charlie McCluster, Restine McCluster, Walter Lou Lewis, Lewis Florence, Lena Holston, Mildred Jones, and Eleanor Weaver. Carrie Davis served as directress and Emory Jones was the pianist. Dorothy Hall and Albert Ward would later serve as pianist for the choir.
In 1950, the Reverend John D. Parham was designated as pastor. Reverend Parham believed that the church should come together at least once a year for fellowship. The idea for an Annual Fellowship with Family and Friends was designated for the second Sunday in December. He would also organize the Harvest Tea for the purpose of raising Annual Conference Assessments and other financial obligations. The Harvest Tea still serves that purpose today.
Prior to Reverend Parham’s departure in November 1953, the mortgage was paid off and a mortgage burning ceremony was held. In November 1953, the Southwest Georgia Conference met in Cordele, Georgia, and Reverend Edward D. Bryson was assigned to be pastor of the Holsey Chapel by Bishop P. Randolph Shy. Reverend Bryson would foster a new vision for the church which carried much promise for the church during changing times. In addition to establishing a weekly live broadcast on WOKS 1340, he would coin the phrase “God’s Mighty Fortress on Eighth Street.” The following boards became active under his leadership: The Willing Workers, The General Missionary Society, Mattie E. Coleman Circle for Youth, Christian Youth Fellowship, Youth and Young Adult Choirs, the Golden Torch Guild, Roving Ambassadors, Junior Ushers, and the Buds of Promise Choir. Other boards would become a major part of the growth of the church: The Board of Christian Education, the Board of Social Concerns, The Board of Lay Activities, and the Board of Evangelism.
The weekly radio broadcast on WOKS 1340 AM was started for the 11AM worship services during the late 1950s. Services were broadcast on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. The broadcast still remains a blessing today to listeners in the community. Many sick and shut-in members and friends of the Fortress benefit from the weekly broadcast. The evening worship service which was began at the inception of the church was discontinued in the late 1960s, during the civil rights movement. Reverend Bryson and Holsey Chapel played a key role in the Civil Rights Movement, serving as a meeting place for a number of local civic group meetings, and working with other civic leaders to desegregate the Columbus city bus system. During this time Reverend Bryson was also involved in the promotion and development of the A.J. McClung YMCA.
Under Reverend Bryson’s leadership improvements were made to the physical plant of the church. Land was purchased located at the rear of the church; additional meetings rooms, pastor’s study, fellowship hall and kitchen area was added as well as a parking lot. In August 1980, a cornerstone was laid for the new annex to the church. Several other improvements were made under his administration to the heating and air conditioning units, pews were added, and pew bibles and hymnals were upgraded. A van ministry was also begun under Reverend Bryson’s leadership in order to meet transportation needs of parishioners and those in the community who desired to worship. Holsey Chapel sponsored a trip to the Holy Land for Reverend and Mrs. Bryson in 1980; Mrs. Bryson died the following year. During the latter phase of Reverend Bryson’s tenure urban renewal projects changed the dynamics of the community, and many members who once lived in the church community relocated to outlying areas, thereby making Holsey Chapel a true commuter church. However Reverend Bryson continued to make progress at Holsey Chapel, while serving as the Chairperson of the Joint Board of Finance for Southwest Georgia Annual Conference. He refocused the church on improving the Christian Education efforts; he assigned Mary Cook as the Director of the board of Christian Education, and led improvements to the Sunday Church School. Several classes were added to appeal to youth and young adults. Holsey Holloman served as Superintendent of the Church School during Reverend Bryson’s early tenure, however was later succeeded by the late Robert
Turner. The Buds of Promise, a children’s choir, was started under the leadership of Deloris Doleman, and initially sang during Church School, but later became part of the Sunday morning worship services. Additionally, a feeding ministry was started under the leadership of Dorothy Hardy and Jewelene Morris – the ministry would offer meals once a month. Despite some adversity, Reverend Bryson continued to provide strong and fruitful service to Holsey Chapel until his retirement in July 1991.
At the Southwest Georgia Annual Conference of July 1991, Bishop Joseph C. Coles, Jr. appointed Lindsey P. Napier as pastor of Holsey Chapel. He arrived to Holsey Chapel with his wife Phyllis and daughter Kelsey. Under his leadership to church began to regain its strength both spiritually and financially. Pastor Napier conducted spiritual growth workshops and Tuesday night Bible
Study. He would initiate a Youth Bible Study under the leadership of Shirley Harris and Paul Davis. He also began an 8AM worship service on the first Sunday in each month. The service would expand to every Sunday morning. He would also revive the Lay Council with 22 members, began a nursing home ministry at the Fountain City Nursing Home, and initiated a Young Adult Ministry. Under Reverend Napier’s leadership the Pastor’s Aide Board was begun with Marjorie Covington as President. He also worked to develop a new member orientation manual with the help of the Board of Evangelism. The Feeding ministry which was begun
under Reverend Bryson was expanded to twice a month, with Elnora Gamble, Ruby Merritt, Ruth Ogletree, Susie Toliver, Helen Spence, Robert and Martha Turner, and Louise Hughes serving as the staff. Reverend Napier worked to strengthen the financial structure of the church. He would name Arlanza Cook as the Recording Steward and Samuel Covington as Treasurer. He also led the church into the refinancing of the mortgage inherited from the Bryson administration, thereby saving the church approximately $90,000 in interest. The church would also purchase three vans from 1995 through 1999, to expand the van ministry. This would aide in the transportation of parishioners to Sunday Church School, worship and other church related functions. In 2000, the church purchased additional property behind the church’s south end for $15,000, for the expansion of church parking. Fundraisers would be decreased from twelve to three under his administration. Property insurance was increased from $150,000 to $800,000 to more accurately reflect the value of church property and assets.
Reverend Napier led the church in the establishment of a budget committee for the purpose of setting the church’s budget and to review income and expense activity each conference year. Additionally a number of building improvements were made under his leadership such as the replacement of the wooden exterior doors with metal doors; the church pews were re-cushioned; new carpet was placed in the sanctuary, and an awning was placed over the rear entrance to the church. Also a new church sign was added along with new pulpit furniture.
Reverend Napier was known for strong administrative skills and his support of young people within the church. He continued to support the youth programs and brought greater stability to the already strong “Fortress.”
Reverend Napier’s tenure at Holsey Chapel concluded in July 2001, when he was promoted to office of Presiding Elder of the Macon/Barnesville District of the Central Georgia Region.
At the July 2001, Annual Conference of the Central Georgia Region, Bishop Othal Hawthorne Lakey assigned Reverend Allen Page, III as pastor of Holsey Chapel. Reverend Page would inherit a stable congregation with strong leadership. The leadership’s main objective was to add to the heritage that had been bequeathed to them. A Greeter’s ministry was added to enhance the reception of congregants each Sunday morning. Also a Gospel Choir was added, and the Male Choir was revitalized to enhance to 8AM worship hour. A Youth Fall Gospel celebration was added for the purpose of offering youth of the community an alternative Halloween each October. The Youth Bible Study was completely reengineered to increase classes offered (increased from 1 to 4), and enhance material used. Another enhancement was made to the church’s spiritual base by establishing Children and Youth Church each 4th Sunday for children between the ages of 5 to 18. This effort is led by our Young Adult Ministry. A Young Adult usher team was established to offer relief and assistance to the Senior and Youth Usher teams. A Pillars of Holsey Ministry was added to minister to senior portion of the congregation.
Improvements totaling $95,000 were made to physical plant of the church. Land purchased under the Napier administration was paved and adjoined to existing parking in the rear of the church. The church grounds were landscaped, new flooring was placed in the vestibule of the church, improvements were made to the restrooms within the church, and new equipment and other improvements were made to the kitchen area. Over the years, under the leadership of Reverend Allen Page III, various boards have established ministries to address some communal weaknesses. The Board of Stewards developed a plan action for the nurturing and development of our young men. The Lay Council instituted a Family Night Bible Study, to encourage more families to learn and apply God’s precepts to their collective lives. A new ministry was birthed within the “Fortress” to bridge the gap between our young adults and seniors. The “Stepping Stones” have gone on to established a six-week Summer Leadership and Communication
Academy, based in a Toastmaster’s model to initially aide our high school teens in the establishment of their individual identity and authority, and the articulation of their thoughts. The Stepping Stones ministry also writes and directs the annual Black History Production and truly galvanized the church by performing its very first production at the Historic Liberty Theater. Reverend Page established a Vision Team comprised of representatives from all aspects of the congregation to assess the status of our current system of operations; to review the health of our communal relatedness; and to develop initiatives and plans of implementation for presentation to the church. This group has established our adopted Mission and Vision Statements. This Vision Team presented and received approval from the church for the implementation of a Small Group Ministry. The focus has been to implement our “Circle
Ministry” by educating and equipping leaders and congregants regarding the value of the system, and skills needed to function successfully. Feeding from the directives of the Vision team, the Church has continued to investigate and employ strategies to better integrate new members into our community. This has included New Member Orientation, Greeter’s Ministry, and Visitor Welcome Packages. The goal of this ministry is to realize the “Mighty” acts of God in the life of our church.
Upon discovering that the roofing system of the church needed serious repairs to prevent a total collapse, and that 9 of the 10 air conditioning units required replacement, the trustees embarked upon several projects of repair and improvements totaling well over $140,000. In the fall of 2006 an opportunity arose for the church to expand its footprint in the downtown area. Through the help of God and his people, Holsey Chapel entered into an agreement with Tom’s Foods, Incorporated for the purchase of commercial property adjacent to the church that is well over 50,000 square feet, and valued over $400,000. This positions Holsey Chapel to strengthen her service to its members and the community at large. Our trustees continue to fulfill plans to fully prepare the property for the church’s use. We are truly discovering in new and profound ways that God truly Reverend Page’s tenure at Holsey Chapel concluded in July 2010, when he was reassigned to the Carter Temple C.M.E. Church in Chicago, Illinois.
In July of 2010, at the 6th Episcopal District’s South West Georgia General Conference of the CME Church held at the Holsey Monumental C.M.E. Church, the newly appointed Bishop Kenneth W. Carter, read the appointment of Holsey Chapel C.M.E. Church in Columbus, Georgia to Reverend Jamie L. Capers. He is married to Mrs. Capers and they have three children.
Combining all the experiences he has had both personally and within the church together has lead Pastor Capers to be at comfort with where he is now in his life and ministry. Appreciative of this denomination to which he serves, as much as it is the place in which God has chosen to mold him, it is his desire to “lead the Holsey congregation to greater heights and greater dimensions in God through Christ Jesus”. His goal is to “effectively pastor congregations, producing disciples that are equipped both socially and spiritually to enhance the lives of individuals across the Pastor Capers is leading and the membership is responding to his vision for a holistic ministry. It is one that ministers to the mind, body and soul and is
a space where people can come, whether recovering from drug abuse, domestic violence, homelessness or dealing with HIV. It is a ministry with a strong bible study, worship experience and one that offers seminars to help people grow. Pastor Capers is continuing the rich history of the Fortress. The Annual HIV Conference was introduced in 2010 and includes educational workshops and HIV testing on site. It is held in conjunction with National HIV Testing Day in July. A church motto (Encountering God, Empowering People and Expanding the Kingdom) was developed to coincide with the vision statement. Pastor Capers loves worship and as such added “The Experience” which occurs each second Sunday Afternoon. It is a contemporary worship experience that seeks to expand on the ministry that takes place during Sunday
morning worship. A television ministry was started broadcasting morning worship services Sunday mornings on the CW channel. The Holsey Chapel Community Service Award was introduced in 2011 and is presented during the Black History Program to a deserving person from the community to bring awareness and celebrate the great sacrifices individuals make each day to make the world in which we live a better place. Expanding the church’s reach internationally, in April 2011 eight members from God’s Mighty Fortress embarked on the first mission trip to Haiti. The mission trip is now taken annually.
Pastor Capers was a proponent of education and training and frequently holds leadership training workshops for leaders and officers. He introduced “Empowerment Sessions”, designed to deal with everyday issues of congregants and the community. Sessions have included financial planning and marriage/relationships. The church also embarked upon “A Journey to Financial Freedom” to liquidate. In the year 2013, the church also set out on a missionary mission: Holsey Chapel C.M.E. Church Project -WELL Haiti: Through God’s Pure Water. Everyone Lives Longer. The goal of this project is to build a well on the property of the Bishop W.E. Lockett Village of Hope in Williamson, Haiti. Over the past three years, members of Holsey Chapel C.M.E. Church in Columbus and other churches across the state have engaged in building the village which consists of a mission house, a school, and an orphanage. Additionally, members assisted in the operation of the C.M.E. Church Health Clinic. Nevertheless, currently there is no access to water on the property. Residents must travel to markets in order to have water for both cooking and bathing. This gave the residents immediate access to clean water.
In addition, during Pastor Capers’ tenure, the church acquired three pieces of equipment designed to facilitate and enhance the worship experience and the move of God in worship services, as well as provide greater mobility for the more physically challenged members of the community, allowing access to all areas of the edifice: Church Monitor – for the “L” section of the sanctuary allowing greater vision, involvement, and interaction concerning the worship experience. Stair Lift – providing access from upstairs sanctuary to the lower level of the church increasing participation of all members in all church events. Clavinova CVP- 601– upgrading and replacing the older piano in the sanctuary enhancing our musical attribution to the expression of worship.
In this year of 2014, at the 6th Episcopal District’s Combined General Conference of the CME Church held in Augusta, Georgia at Paine College, the Presiding Prelate, the once again appointed Bishop Kenneth W. Carter, from the just recently held 2014 General Conference of the C.M.E. Church held in Maryland, read the appointment of Holsey Chapel C.M.E. Church in Columbus, Georgia to Reverend Javon D. Jackson to the very anxious delegates. It was certainly one of the most anticipated Conferences of this century. Rev. Javon Jackson is married to the lovely Mrs. Latanya Jackson and has two sons, Jamyus and Jacquez. Rev. Jackson is honored to have the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of legends. He intends to lead the “Mighty Fortress” to be an effective Church in this Century. He patiently awaits getting more familiar with where the Church stands functionally and spiritually and is eager to implement the vision that God has given him for our future.
The Lord continues to move mightily within the Fortress and thus our story is still being written!