With an eye toward the future, history can serve as an inspiring foundation, reminding of who we are and where our roots begin. While we may argue that where we’ve been isn’t as important as where we’re going, where we’ve been is a measurement of how far we’ve come… and how valuable our goal truly is! So with hearts filled with gratitude toward those who blazed a trail for our Church to exist, we say “Thank You” for all their hard work, and we press on to see the vision carried forth. With hearts and minds committed to this task, we now present a brief history of our Church.


In the Fall of 1948 a small group of people with General Baptist sentiments and beliefs began praying about the possibility of a General Baptist Church in Chaffee. The decision was made to have “Cottage Prayer Meetings”, to be held on Thursday evenings. Since those involved were members or attendees of other churches, they were encouraged to continue to be involved in these churches, until such time God would lead in other directions.

A number of General Baptist ministers and laity were very helpful in the beginning of this new adventure. Among those were Vernon Shell of Lutesville, Missouri; Arvil Huffman of White water, Missouri; Ernest Dopp, Pastor of the Arbor General Baptist Church; Dale Porter, Pastor of the Cape Girardeau General Baptist Church, and many, many others for whom we are indebted.

The first such prayer meeting was held Thursday night, October 28, 1948 in the home of Vyron and Dixie Yount, who lived on Nunn Roade. Arvil Huffman delivered the evening message. A second meeting was held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Alonzo Roberts, and a third meeting at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Baker. It was at this third meeting that the Chaffee General Baptist Church was truly organized.

A total of fourteen charter members signed on to commit to the task of establishing the Church. Those members were:

Beulah Yount
Marshal Yount
Massey Clubb
Oscar Fowler
Minnie Roberts
Alonzo Roberts
Vyron Yount
Charely Baker
Joy Baker
Ada Sadler
Monroe Sadler
Louise Shell
Bob Shell

A total of seven Ministers and one Deacon were in attendance for that organizational meeting, in which the Articles of Faith and the Church Covenant were read. Rev. Earnest Dopp moderated, and Rev. Arvil Huffman prayed a prayer of consecration.
In October of 1949, the Church was accepted into the Old Liberty Association of General Baptists. Charely Baker and J.A. Adams were ordained to serve as the Church’s first Deacons.The Church would eventually join the SEMO Association of General Baptists in July of 1958.

Fire of 2005

(Thursday, February 24, 2005 – By Bob Miller ~ Southeast Missourian)

Pastor Doug McClellan held a white coffee cup in his hand as he watched and smelled his church building rise to the heavens in the form of heavy, malodorous smoke late Tuesday morning.

Through his large, thick eye glasses, the minister could see two firefighters perched high in a bucket, spraying water through a hole near the roof’s apex. He watched another one who was crouched in front of the church, spraying a thick stream of water through the charred foyer and into what used to be the sanctuary. It appeared the firefighter was trying to fill the church as if it were a big, backyard swimming pool.

It was 11 a.m. and the fight to save the building was long over. Witnesses say not long after the fire started, the front doors were blown out and debris landed in the middle of Fifth Street. Fire personnel never got the chance to enter the building.

The firefighters had more or less gained control by noon or so, but the building was beyond salvation. The pews, the organ, the pulpit, everything that was on the main level had collapsed into the basement. Hymnals, study materials, classroom furniture, everything in the church was melted into an unidentifiable black charcoal mass. All the firefighters could do now was cool off the embers and prepare the building for investigation and demolition.

The mist from the fire hoses added to the drizzle and the light sleet. The thick smoke fogged the neighborhood.

As McClellan watched the firefighters and sipped his coffee, his thoughts swayed. Disastrous fires invoke all sorts of different outlooks and insights, even from the same person.

“It’s just hard to look at,” he said of the building that was built in 1977. “This is a building where special people gather together to worship and it’s been destroyed by fire.”

Later, he thought of it another way.

“Let’s face it,” he said. “This is just a building. The church is the people.”

He was thankful that the fire occurred when it did, at roughly 4:15 a.m. The church opens its doors almost nightly for different group meetings, including a Girl Scout troop.

Then he thought of some special items in his office. He thought about Bibles that were given to him by family members who have died. He remembered homemade gifts and photos of his children now lost forever.

But a few moments later, he was able to laugh about spiritual metaphors.

“We’re always saying you need a fire for Jesus,” he said. “But we’re talking about a spiritual fire.”

McClellan’s dreary day began around 4:10 a.m.

Deacon David Copeland, a longtime member, had just arrived at the church, as he does every early Wednesday morning. A group of men meet at 6 a.m. for Promise Keepers in the basement of the church. They eat breakfast, study scriptures and pray.

Copeland is the group’s chef. He makes sausage and biscuits. He also kicks on the heat and gets the place warm. Usually, he studies passages alone before the meetings in case he’s asked to lead. The men were to study Deuteronomy 29.

“I turned the thermostat on,” Copeland said, “and started working on the biscuits. Maybe three or four minutes passed and I heard a noise and I saw smoke coming through the paneling of the furnace room. Then I heard a sizzling and a crackling noise.”

When he looked into the furnace room, it was fully engulfed. He hurried to a telephone two rooms away, dialed 911 and let it ring three times. Smoke was already pouring in. He hung up the phone and ran to the stairs. There wasn’t even enough time to grab his favorite Bible.

He said the flames spread so quickly on the ceiling, they reached the door to the stairs before he did.

Copeland rushed across the parking lot to the church parsonage where he woke his pastor. McClellan called 911.

By the time the firefighters arrived, the church was too far gone to enter the building.

It took several hours for the firefighters to beat down the blaze. Firefighters from Chaffee, Delta, Scott City, Jackson and East County fire departments responded. In the meantime, McClellan’s wife sat on the parsonage porch with her telephone, making and receiving phone calls.

At about 5 a.m., church clerk Anna Wicker found out through her daughter’s fiance, who is a Delta firefighter, that the church was on fire. She saw the damage for herself a couple of hours later.

“It really floored me to see it,” said Wicker, a member since 1996. “You see these things on TV and read about them in the paper, but when it hits home it has a real numbing effect. But I know God has a plan.”

By noon, a Methodist church pastor had called and offered to rearrange his church schedule and share the sanctuary with the General Baptist congregation. Another church called to offer a place for Wednesday night’s service, but plans for the youth service had already been made at the skating rink. Dr. Arnold Bell, the Chaffee school superintendent, had called to offer the school activity center as a temporary meeting place for the church.

“We’ve had an outpouring of support,” Tammy McClellan said.

The pastor and Copeland spent several minutes inside the parsonage, answering questions from the fire investigators.

State fire marshal Butch Amann said he had no reason not to believe Copeland’s story, but he and the Division of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are obligated by law to investigate all church fires. He said heavy equipment will need to be brought in so he can take a look at the fire’s origin.

After answering the questions, McClellan, who has been pastor of the church for about 18 months, came outside again to watch more of the destruction. Before long, a backhoe was brought in to rip off the roof. Later the brick walls were pulled down.

Even as he watched and smelled the ruins of the church building, McClellan said he believes good things will come out of this unfortunate situation. He said it will bring the congregation closer together and closer to God.

As for the short term, McClellan and other church leaders decided that the church will meet Sunday in the school’s activity center at 9:30 a.m. for Sunday School. Worship will follow at 10:30.

A Time to Re-Build

The next Sunday morning, services were held at the Chaffee High School Activity Center. Following services were also held at the Chaffee Senior Center and in mid March arrangements were made with the Church of God, and services began at the Shiloh Campground on Hwy 77.

A decision was made to transform our existing van garage, on our own property, into a structure suitable for holding Church services, and on Sunday December 4, 2005 services were once again held at the corner of Fifth and Helen Streets.

Though we were thankful to be back in our own structure, on our own property, we still faced many hurdles we were not equipped to handle, especially with our insurance carrier.

So, in a wonderful display of His grace, God sent a young lawyer our way. Lisa Lang had attended CGBC in her youth, and her and her late husband’s wedding had taken place in the sanctuary of the building which had burnt. She informed us that she had heard we were having difficulty with our insurance carrier, and asked if we would allow her to help, as her specialty was litigating against insurance carriers. This manifested into a wonderful settlement on our behalf, and she did it all pro-bono!

As God was orchestrating all these events into place, He was also calling a new pastor to our congregation, and June 3rd 2006 Robert Lewis became the pastor of CGBC!

In the following months of praying, discussing, and visiting other churches to determine what type of facility God would have us to build, we finally looked at our own community and asked ourselves what would serve it best. It was then determined we needed a facility to serve the youth of our community, so a sanctuary and a gym were agreed upon.

This again required God’s help, because deciding on something and finding the means to accomplish it, we discovered, are two very different things. All of the builders, we were in discussion with, wanted in excess of $1,000,000.00, to complete the project!

So, in early 2007 God sent a contractor by the name of Tom Nall to the dental office where Debbie Lewis (Pastor Bob’s wife) worked, and as they made polite conversation, the topic of building a church came up, and Tom asked to bid on the project.

Pastor Bob and Debbie then met with the members of Denali Construction’s design team, where Pastor Bob submitted an interior layout he had been working on and within a few weeks, plans and a bid were submitted and approved by the Congregation, and on April 7th 2007 ground breaking ceremonies took place once again at the corner of 5th and Helen streets!

God continued to have His hand upon us, as we continued to pray for our facility and for the workers completing it, because on May 9th 2007, 15 one-hundred foot trusses weighing about 600 pounds each, toppled down into what was to become our new sanctuary bringing 3 workers down with them, while not one worker received more than a scrape!

On November the 4th of 2007 we had the first service in our new facility!

On Saturday, December 1st an “Open House” was given for the community and on Sunday evening December 2nd former pastors Clifton Trentham, Don Willingham, Joe Payne, Mike Huffman (son of former pastor Arvil Huffman) and Pastor Bob Lewis all joined together with the Congregation and many members of the community for a dedication service!


Present and Onward!

At this printing many wonderful blessings have already taken place in this facility, and we give God the glory for them all. We also want to stop and thank Him for those who have given of their time, energies, and finances toward this facility in His Name, for without their efforts, we could not have seen it come to fruition!

CGBC has existed, survived, and thrived over the years by the grace of God, and continuing in His grace, we will endeavor to do even more in the future, to expand His kingdom on this earth.