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Quinn Chapel celebrates Founder#039;s Day

It was a celebration of history as well as a celebration of faith.

Sunday, members of Quinn Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Ironton celebrated Founder's Day, recognizing the house of worship's nearly 150 years of history.

The church was organized in December 1856 by free people of color

who wanted a place where they would be welcome to worship.

Church historian Charles Robinson wrote in a short biography of Quinn Chapel that

the first building was completed in 1858 at a cost of $300. But that small structure became inadequate as the membership roll grew. Land was purchased from Ironton founder John Campbell in 1865 for a new church home at the corner of Eighth and Adams streets.

"This plot of ground was the first owned in Ironton and used in Ironton for negro worship," according to the church's historical documents. It was named in honor of Bishop William Paul Quinn.

As the membership swelled, newer, larger structures

replaced that first one. The present day church was completed

Jan. 25, 1909.

Wilma Fox has been a member of Quinn Chapel for more than 40 years. Fox said she began attending Quinn Chapel because it was her husband's church and because she liked the order of service. She stayed because of some wonderful people she met there.

"We all get along so well," Fox said. "The warmth and the friendliness and the fellowship is so wonderful. This is a church that reaches out to people. We love people and we love God," she said.

Though begun as a church for people of color, Quinn Chapel is today a bridge between races, with people of all colors welcome to worship.

Forty-five ministers have led the congregation through the years. The Rev. Melonie Valentine was appointed pastor in November 2004, and as such is the first woman to lead Quinn Chapel. A native of Chillicothe, Valentine said she, too, has found the Quinn Chapel congregation warm and friendly.

"The people are spirit-filled and that is evident not only in their worship but the way they live," she said. "They have a New Testament love for one another and it radiates in everything they do."

She said one of her goals to see that church family increase in size.

"I'm interested in seeing the church grow and seeing the church become more involved in outreach," she said.