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Our History

Under Reverend Isaac Lee’s leadership, the church experienced tremendous physical and spiritual growth. Numerous auxiliaries, now called ministries, were started or expanded. The physical structure of the church was renovated and modernized. The Pastor’s Aid Society, the Floral Club, the Finance Committee, the Missionary Circles, the Sunshine Band, the Junior Usher Board, the Sick Committee, and the Parking Committee were all formed. The Deacon Board and the Trustee Board increased in size. Three ministers from within the church membership were licensed and ordained: Reverend Patrick Burt, Reverend Otha Kearney, and Reverend Stanley L. Ballentine, Sr. During this time, church improvements included the addition of a pastor’s study, indoor restrooms, new pews, a furnace, a fellowship room, and several classrooms. Mr. Joe D. Withrow donated a four-room army hut to the church. They became three Sunday School classrooms and a kitchen. Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Stone gave Watts its first deed to the land on December 29, 1957. They also gave the church additional land for a parking area in 1962. 

During Reverend Lee’s tenure, formal worship time at Watts Chapel increased from one Sunday per month to services on the second and fourth Sundays. Reverend Richard Russell assisted the church by rendering services on the fourth Sunday of the month in Reverend Lee’s absence due to illness. On alternating Sundays, Watts Chapel membership worshipped with St. John A.M.E. Church, which also had service two Sundays a month. St. John’s members worshipped at Watts when they had no service at their church.
Later, there were other ministers who presided over fourth Sunday services when Rev. Lee was absent: Reverend Clyde Walton, Reverend James Toms, Reverend W.B. Lewis, Reverend John Mangum and Reverend Harvester Miles. After 19 years of faithful service, Reverend Isaac Lee resigned in 1965. Reverend Stanley L. Ballentine, Sr. served as Interim Pastor for nearly two years.

On July 28, 1967, Reverend Dr. Frank Byrd Weaver was elected pastor and officially installed on October 13, 1968. During Reverend Weaver’s leadership, God did great works through his servants at Watts Chapel. Weekly services would begin under his leadership. The first Christian Education classes began. Extensive remodeling of the church included the installation of cement walkways, a baptismal pool, and air conditioning. The church borrowed money for the renovation. However, with God’s favor, on June 11, 1972, the church celebrated The Burning of the Mortgage.

Tragedy struck Watts Chapel in the fall of 1972. The church’s steeple was struck by lightning. Inside that steeple was the bell that, for many years, was used to signal the start of Sunday School and regular Worship service throughout the neighborhood and was rung as funeral processions approached the church. The steeple was destroyed and the recently renovated building sustained such extensive fire and water damage that the church had to be rebuilt. When construction began, regular worship services were not interrupted, thanks to the Christian fellowship and generosity of our sister church, Saint John. The work of God is never ending. While worshipping with our sister church, Watts Chapel continued to make progress. The first gospel chorus, then known as the F.B. Weaver Gospel Chorus, was organized by Deacon Thomas L. Glenn, Sr. Also, on November 10, 1974, Reverend Marian Ballentine Glenn became the first female minister licensed by Watts Chapel Baptist Church.