On June 5, 1912, a Prayer Band Group led by the late Mrs. Maggie Clark Wiggins, who had been meeting in prayer groups in a house, felt the need of a place to worship. Permission was granted by the late Mr. John B. Cleveland for land to build a Brush Arbor. The group met, organized and became the Cleveland Chapel Baptist Church in 1913.
True devotion went into the first building. The late Rev. J. W. Wilburn, the first pastor, and the group doing the building, singing as they worked, “Lean on, O King of Glory, We Will follow Thee, Thy crimson banner over us Shall a sign of triumph be.” Thus, the first Cleveland Chapel.
In succession of pastors after the Rev. Wilburn were: Rev. Chad Lipscomb; Rev. J. H. Gilmore; in 1938, Rev. Green Allen Duncan; 1947, Rev. M. H. Hackett; 1948, Rev. Samuel Rapor; 1954, Rev. Ivey; 1959, Rev. J. R. Ezell; 1964, Rev. J. R. Whitmore; 1989, Dr. Barry W. Brown; and 2002 Pastor Timothy J. Brown., Sr... December 2010 Rev. Anthony R. Wilson, December 2014 Pastor Phillip J. Buckson
Rev. J. H. Gilmore served twenty years. During his pastorate, the old church was renovated and the membership increased. Mr. Albert Davis was called into the ministry.
Rev. M. H. Hackett is noted for being the first pastor to improve the financial status of the church. This also marked the beginning of the musical choir, and the first piano was purchased.
During the pastorate of Rev. Samuel Rapor, the membership increased, and the Sunday School took on renewed vigor. Rev. Rapor initiated our first big rally, raising a total of $500. In 1950, the wooden frame church was then bricked. Three deacons were added to the board.
Rev. Ivey, during his pastorate, ordained one deacon, and The Late Rev. Jimmy Kerns felt the call for the ministry. He is the Formal Pastor of Hardy Chapel Baptist Church.
Rev. J. R. Ezell made a splendid contribution to the spiritual, intellectual and financial status of the church. During his pastorate, we purchased new carpet, new pulpit set, new pews and gas heat.
The Late Rev. James Whitmore came to Cleveland Chapel with enthusiastic. It was evident from the beginning that he was ready to undertake the task of building the new Cleveland Chapel Baptist Church. The Building Fund was started. As a result, we were able to add bathrooms, a water cooler and a space for a parking lot.
On March 23, 1970 the church ground was exchanged for the Asa Thompson School property, and on March 25, 1970, Rev. Benson Watt was employed to build the new church. The church was dedicated on August 23, 2970. However in 1972, tragedy struck in the form of a fire, destroying the newly built two-year old Cleveland Chapel.
On Monday, September 18, 1972, Rev. and Mrs. Whitmore and a devout group of members bowed in humble submission as they viewed the remains of the two-year old church. However, the were given hope in the words of Rev. Whitmore, “Although we lost the building, we have not lost the Church; the Church is still in each one of us, thanks be to God.” Rev. Whitmore wisdom and alertness was manifested in the business of rebuilding. Rev. B. I. Watts was hired and a $60,000 church was begun immediately. The new building was completed and dedicated in 1973. On January 10, 1982, a mortgage burning ceremony was held to retire the bill. In 1985, a $10,000 beautification program was begun. New carpet, seat covers, and new pews for the choir stand were purchased. The church was also painted. In the 1986, the old Cleveland Chapel Church building was demolished to make space for a church cemetery. In 1987, a $15,000 paving of the church yard and parking lot was completed.
Under Dr. Barry W. Brown’s leadership, Cleveland Chapel has seen a physical regeneration with: The purchased of the sanctuary organ; two transport vehicles; a set of drums; the renovation of the sanctuary; addition of vestibule facilities; the commission of the painting above the baptismal pool; and , the installation of a new roof. Under Dr. Barry W. Brown’s leadership, Cleveland Chapel built a Family Life Center, in which was dedicated August 2000.
On Sunday, September 15, 2002, Pastor Timothy J. Brown, Sr. was installed as Pastor of Cleveland Chapel Baptist Church. Under Pastor Timothy Brown youthful and energetic leadership, we have grown both spiritually and financially. We have purchase new computers for staff; new copier for the office, Summer Day Camp and Youth Basketball League. We also added many new members to our church family, by Baptism, Christian Experience and Restoration.
Under his leadership, Nannie Jefferies, Robert E. Wheeler, Jr., Teresa Clowney, and Jennifer White were called into the ministry.
Also we received our 501 C3 status in 2004.
On November 7, 2010, Reverend Anthony R. Wilson was elected as the shepherd of our church after almost one year of being without a Pastor. In the Christian Education Department, he has implemented a youth Oratorical Contes. On October 15, 2011, Durham Greene was chosen to be the Contractor for our renovation, which was started in January 16, 2012 and ended on May 31, 2012. Services convened in the sanctuary on June 3, 2012 with a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. The ribbon was cut by ‘Mother of the Church, Deaconess Elizabeth Meadows and Emeritus Deacon Paul Foster (Deceased).
On November 23, 2014, Pastor Phillip J. Buckson was elected as the Senior Pastor of our church after eighteen months of being without a Pastor.
The faith and prayers manifested by the Prayer Band is now a reality. Cleveland Chapel is the evidence of the unseen faith in 1912. During these past One-hundred and two years, only thirteen pastors have served this church since its organization from the Prayer Band. Each has served with dignity, while devoting themselves to the members.