The story of Barrett’s Chapel really begins with the story of two brothers; Zelotus and Homer Barrett. These two men moved to New London from the Clarksfield area in the early 1800’s. Zelotus settled in the area that is now occupied by the Church and Homer settled in the area at the intersection of Chenango and Fayette Roads. Helen Foskett’s book “History of New London, Ohio” says: “In 1833 Elder Thomas Carter organized the Free Will Baptist Church. In Section 2 on Lot 17, they erected a very large building, known as the Old Abbey; this was the first structure to be built specifically for religious services. It was on the east side of the Chenango road, opposite the Lilly home that was later built. Mr. H. B. Barrett said that one wintry day Rev. Craft baptized forty persons in the creek near the Barrett place after making a hole through the ice. He would have baptized more had anyone wanted him to.”
It would seem that Homer was a man of deep convictions. He was involved in the first Baptist church organized in New London; and he also offered the use of his place to baptize those early believers. Zelotus took a little bit different path. He chose to help develop the downtown area. In 1867 he erected the first brick block of stores on what was called Barrett’s Block. In 1988 this building collapsed and the land is now used as parking for the New London Pizza House. From his business ventures though, Zelotus became very wealthy.
Rev. Wm. B. Mason, who was the pastor of Barrett’s Chapel from 1970-1988, writes this: “Zelotus Barrett, father of William Barrett, come into our community as a pioneer in 1816, bought upland in the Clarksfield New London area. He was a man of distinction in several fields, best known for his generosity toward the poor and the underprivileged. William A. Barrett was born in 1840 – later moved to Kansas; he and his sisters donated the ground for our chapel giving to the community a place of worship. Leaving the property in the form of a lease to be used by the generations to come. His fore thought in leasing the land as he did in such a manner that no one or organization could capitalize on it was a real blessing from God.”
God used both of these men to bring about what is now called Barrett’s Chapel. God used Homer’s deep desire to bring a church to the area north of New London and Zelotus’ wealth to finance the project. An article in the New London Record dated July 29, 1875 states “Ground broke for new church at Barrett’s Corner a few days since. The stone and brick are mostly on the lot ready for the workmen who are expected to commence active operations this week or first of next. Mr. J. Walker of Troy the contractor passed through here on Monday, last on his way to superintend the work.”
The first services were held on May 13, 1876. At that time the Chapel was simply known as the Church at Barrett’s Corners. Zelotus passed away on June 29, 1876. So, on Sunday, July 4, 1876 they had an official christening ceremony and dubbed the Church “Barrett’s Chapel” in honor of Zelotus and Homer Barrett. At that time, Barrett’s Chapel was under the authority of the New London Methodist Church. They were responsible for providing the preacher for the pulpit. Usually this was one of the old time circuit riding preachers.
In 1917, the folks decided that they didn’t like being under the authority of the Methodist Church so they set out to become an Independent Church. The Methodist Church didn’t like this, so they went out and chained the doors shut. The Pastor of that day promptly cut the lock and they held services anyway. From that day forward Barrett’s Chapel has been an independent church.
In the 1950’s the folks decided to dig out a basement in order to have room for Sunday School. They used shovels and wheelbarrows to remove all the dirt. It was a long and tedious job, but their efforts were not in vain. Countless numbers of children have passed through Barrett’s at one point in time learning about the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Only eternity will tell how many souls have been saved due to the efforts of these men and women throughout the early years of Barrett’s Chapel.
The next event of major significance took place in 1999. This was when the congregation of Barrett’s Chapel adopted a new church constitution. This constitution was one that adhered strictly to the fundamental doctrines taught by our Lord Jesus Christ to His Disciples. The Bible says in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 – “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” In light of all the apostate churches in the world, the folks determined that it was necessary to take a stand for sound doctrine. At this point, the church was an Independent, Fundamental, King James Bible preaching Church.