Downs Chapel Methodist Protestant Church in Kenton Hundred is the oldest Methodist Protestant Church in this section of the State of Delaware, having been built in 1843 (171 years ago). It was built upon land conveyed by James Downs to Trustees of Downs Chapel Church on Deember 4, 1842. The first building was erected in the spring of 1843. Previous to that, Rev. Heritage came in the neighborhood and preached to large numbers in the woods as this area at that time was woods and forest. The first sanctuary at Downs Chapel was small and had to be rebuilt in 1880. It was destroyed by fire in August 1925.
Our present brick building was built in 1927; cornerstone was laid on the morning of November 13, 1927, and dedication in afternoon. For our Church History, we used “Zebleys Churches of Delaware, Hallman Garden of Methodistm and Churches of Delaware.” We were told that the first church is part of Pratt’s horse barn. Most of Downs Chapel CHurch records were lost in the fire of August 1925. “Daddy told me that men working on Route 300 were cooking in back of the church in a lean-to and the fire got out of control and burned the church,” Virginia “Ginger” Jones shares. Downs Chapel Church became a part of the Cheswold Charge in 1949 – before that we were part of Clayton Charge.
The following is a list of the ministers that have been appointed to the Cheswold Charge (Downs Chapel, Cheswold and Immanuel Union):
- 1944 – 1946 Rev. Hugh Kelso
- 1946 – 1949 Rev. Edward Dougherty
- 1949 – 1952 Rev. Kenneth Snyder
- 1952 – 1955 Rev. Connie Dickens
- 1955 – 1957 Rev. Charles Squires
- 1957 – 1960 Rev. Olin Shockley
- 1960 – 1961 Rev. Larry Stayton
- 1961 – 1963 Rev. Robert Short
- 1963 – 1965 Rev. Robert Kelly
- 1965 – 1973 Rev. Charles Barton
- 1973 – 1977 Rev. John Van Tine
- 1977 – 1979 Rev. Robert Hall
- 1979 – 1980 Rev. Craydon McDonald
- 1980 – 1986 Rev. E. P. “Woody” Woodruff
- 1986 – 1988 Rev. Pam Lardear
- 1988 – 1989 Rev. Louis Timmons
- 1989 – 1993 Rev. Kim Gilson
- 1993 – 1994 Rev. Dale R. Pruett
- 1994 – 1995 Rev. Carol Rogers
- 1995 – 1998 Rev. Harvey Sturgis
- 1998 – 2004 Rev. Ronald Wuest
- 2004 – 2008 Rev. Everett LeCates
- 2008 – 2011 Rev. Ronald Schatz
- 2011 – 2014 Rev. Richard Rogers
- 2014 – 2016 Rev. Bonnie-Karen Mullen
- 2016 – 2018 Rev. Elizabeth Marrero
- 2018 – Present Pastor Doc Case
On May 8, 1983 church members and family celebrated the 140th anniversary of Downs Chapel with Pastor Woodruff, DS Gordon Stapelton and Downs Chapel Choir.
On June 5, 1994, Downs Chapel Church celebrated its 151st anniversary with the reading of the church history and special services by Rev. D (ale Pruett, followed by a covered dish dinner sponsored by Downs Chapel Ladies Aid (an important part of our church). The church organ was dedicated in 1987 in memory of Lawrence O’Neal; the church air conditioner was dedicated in 1989 in memory of Wesley Conley, Sr.; brass candlesticks and the walnut cabinet in the vestibule in 1998 in memory of Leroy & Edith Jones; the red church pew cushions were dedicated in memory of Paul Leager; the walnut baptismal font was built by Howard Everett in front of church in memory of Gertrude Smith Benton in 2003.
In April 1995, the church parking lot was laid from Wooleyhand & Smith Memorial funds.
In April 1993, stained glass windows were installed in transom and in the front of the church by alter (Shenandoah Art Glass) in memory of James “Teddy” Wooleyhan, Richard “Dickie Wooleyhan, Lester & Nora Smith; also, stained glass windows were dedicated in memory of Marion Benton in March 1996; Cyntiha Caldwell 1996; Hazel Conley 1997; Everett Family in 1999; Carter family in 1999; stained glass box in memory of Jean Conley Wooters in 2007; Advent Wreath dedicated in memory of Robert W. & George Dunning in 2009; brass communion pail & memorial plaque in 2011 in memory of Diane Jones Cahall.
Downs Chapel Church celebrated its 170th anniversary on April 7, 2014 with Rev. Richard Rogers and Rev. Ron Wuest.
In 2018 Down Chapel had a handicap ramp installed to make it easier for our aging congregation to attend services. It was dedicated during the 175th anniversary celebration (in June 2018).
Downs Chapel Church is very proud of their heritage and grateful for the fidelity of its members throughout its 177 years.
“To God be the Glory.”
Our prayers are that God will continue to bless our Country Church at Downs Chapel . . . “Our LIttle Church in the Dale.”