Origins of Sheffield Chapel
Bob and Mary Anderson and John and Audrey Downie were faithfully attending Old Parish Church in Sheffield, MA. One day they visited Hope Church in Lenox, MA, back in the early 70’s. The sermon that morning was from Luke 24 – Jesus on the road to Emmaus. Pastor Ross made the point that the disciples were in Jesus’ presence for a long time before they recognized who He was. Bob said, “That is me!” And for the first time made a true profession of faith in the risen Christ that very morning. His wife, Mary, needed more time, but after several weeks of careful spiritual study, she too, came to a born again faith in Jesus Christ. Soon after, the two couples asked Pastor Ross of Hope Church to teach a Bible study in the Anderson’s home in Sheffield, which began on Thursday, April 27, 1972 with the book of Hebrews.
Soon Peggy Miller and several others from Sheffield joined the weekly Bible studies. Pastor Ross was unable to continue the class for more than a few weeks. Teachers from Berkshire Christian College in Lenox, MA (also Advent Christian) volunteered a week or two at a time until Audrey Downie invited Pastor John Duchardt to formally lead as Pastor. He began teaching on September 7, 1972 and the people were relieved and overjoyed to have a steady teacher.
Duke, as he was called, helped the small group realize their vision of starting a local church. He offered the name, “Sheffield Chapel.”
Five people in the group were members of Hope Church and cordially left to begin a new work in Sheffield. Pastor Ross was pleased and considered it an outreach of Hope Church.
The members of Hope Church presented communion trays to Sheffield Chapel, which were used in the first meeting, held on Sunday, January 6, 1974 in the Anderson’s living room (25 worshipers were present).
Each Sunday thereafter, Pastor Duchardt conducted morning and evening services in the Anderson’s living room. Attendance varied from 17-32 people.
Soon the Anderson’s barn was converted into a beautiful chapel while the rooms in the house were used for Sunday school classes and nursery. After two and a half years in the renovated barn the congregation steadily grew and moved to Sheffield Grange Hall.
The Chapel was moved for the final time into a new building at 1970 North Main Street, Sheffield, MA in 1984. That same year Pastor Duchardt retired.
David Moynihan from AMOC (American Mission for Opening Churches) took over the position as a missionary pastor for the next five years.
An interim (Jonathan Arnold), guest preachers, and Elders filled the post for a few years while the pastoral search committee interviewed several candidates, eventually calling Pastor Mark Drinnenberg. The church began to grow and soon sent their first team on a mission trip to Mexico. After four years (1997), Pastor Drinnenberg left the Chapel to begin a new church in the Chicago area.
Elder William Perry, one of the longest standing members of the church, filled the pulpit until May of 1998 when Pastor Chet Howes, from Castile, NY, was called by unanimous vote.
After seven years of service, Pastor Chet left Sheffield chapel and George Karl, an Advent Christian pastor, was called as Interim.
Keith Becker was called and soon served the chapel for nearly six months but was unable to sell his house in Texas and moved back home to be with his family.
George Karl was called as Interim pastor once again. Pastor Karl suggested that Sheffield Chapel reconnect with its roots and become part of the Advent Christian denomination. After much discussion, the constitution was changed to allow for Advent Christian doctrine while also leaving the language open for a more traditional understanding.
In August of 2008 Pastor Corey Joseph McLaughlin (1 year Bible certificate from Berkshire Institute for Christian Studies, B.S. in Bible from Lancaster Bible College, M.A.N.T., M.A.T.H. from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary) was called by unanimous vote to serve the people of Sheffield Chapel. He and his wife, Erica, and two children, Isaiah and Adara moved out to the Berkshires accepting part time status for the first year. He was installed with an official ceremony on November 9, 2008 with participation from Hope Church and the regional superintendent Clint Tabor. By February of 2009 the Lord had provided a home only three miles from the church. He also graciously increased attendance enabling the faithful people of Sheffield Chapel to increase Pastor McLaughlin to full-time status.