Journal-Advocate (Sterling)


Chapel of the Plains founded in 1932 as Stoneham First Assembly of God

- By Kelly J. Huenink Special to the Journal-advocate

In 1932 the Ford Model Y was first produced; Adolph Hitler was running for president in Germany; the third Olympic Winter Games were held in Lake Placid, New York; Ted Kennedy was born in Boston; Johnny Cash was born; Bonnie Parker (of Bonnie & Clyde fame) was arrested; the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup; Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic; Ronald Reagan graduated from college; and the Stoneham First Assembly of God Church was started.

Now called Chapel of the Plains, the church is still in operation 90 years later.

The church started in the school’s basement in unincorpor­ated Stoneham. Sharon (Bartram) Tappy, the senior member of the congregati­on, remembers Charlie Pierce’s family picking up her and her sister, Karen, for Sunday School and church. When the sisters came home from church, their dad would ask what the preacher said. One day, Sharon got bold and said, “Daddy, why don’t you go to church with us and hear what the preacher has to say?” Her parents started attending, and eventually, her entire family, including two aunts, followed Christ.

They built a new church on the west side of town, near the Catholic church, and moved out of the school basement. They outgrew that church and built another one on the north side of Stoneham in the 1960s. It was Sharon’s dad, Bud Bartram, who donated the land. In addition, much of the lumber came from the Stoneham Hotel that Mr. Bartram owned at the time. It was torn down as the church was being built.

The traditiona­l white church, with stained glass windows and a steeple, just south of Highway 14, is still in use today. The church plans to expand to the east and provide classrooms for the church and a new community center for Stoneham.

Sharon had memories of the

community coming together to build the church. The beautiful moss rock that adorns the building was picked up by the women in the congregati­on. She also remembers that on the day they poured the cement for the basement, a significan­t rain drenched everyone there. A missionary came calling. The ladies were embarrasse­d by their appearance after being soaked by the rain.

One day Sharon’s husband, Clinton, was driving a tractor, and he accidental­ly hit the cement mixer. It fell into the hole that had been dug for the basement. Karen, Sharon’s sister, saw it and yelled at everyone to watch out. Luckily, no one was injured.

Sharon recalls that the Catholic church members also helped them build, as well as pastors from Sterling. One pastor from Sterling caught her husband, Clinton, as he almost fell off the new church’s roof. The constructi­on was a community effort, and women ensured everyone was wellfed. The Canvasser family did the intricate woodwork inside the church, and the late Carol Jaegar had a friend who did the beautiful stained-glass windows.

Sharon could not remember all the names of previous pastors. Still, she remembered it was Rev. Kenneth Brethouwer who led her family to the Lord. He also used to go deer hunting with her dad. She also recalls pastor and horseman Jasper Weaver, who often hosted rodeos in town. He was artistic, and a sketch he drew hangs in Sharon’s home. Other memories include picnics in Pioneer Park, monthly get-togethers with other churches in Northeast Colorado, and Old-fashioned Sundays, where everyone dressed like pioneers and old west cowboys for church.

Chapel of the Plains is celebratin­g its 90th anniversar­y on Sunday, Dec. 18. The children will perform their Christmas production during service time at 10 a.m. (breakfast will be available from 9 to 10 a.m.), and we will start celebratin­g our anniversar­y during church. At noon, we will continue the celebratio­n at Bret and Tina Mcendaffer’s home in Sterling. Lunch will be provided by the church.

We hope you will attend our celebratio­n if you have ties to the church or community. We also encourage you to share stories, pictures, and memories by emailing, calling or texting Kelly Huenink, who can be reached at kjhuenink@ho- or at 970-396- 1118.

 ?? COURTESY PHOTO ?? The congregati­on of Stoneham First Assembly of God is pictured in the 1930s.
COURTESY PHOTO The congregati­on of Stoneham First Assembly of God is pictured in the 1930s.

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