McNiel Family Bio
From the Pastor's Desk
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A Brief History
Lakeview United Methodist Church
The community of Riverlake Estates started as a housing development about 1953 or 1954 on farmland belonging to the J. R. Aliff family. The first houses were built in 1954 and 1955 about the middle of Parkview Drive. By the summer of 1957 there were about twelve houses in the neighborhood, five on Parkview Drive, five on Lakeview Drive, and two on East Parkview. Two years later in 1959, the community had grown to about 35 homes.
The idea of a community church in this new and growing area was conceived sometime in 1959 at St. Andrew Methodist Church under the leadership of Rev. Talmage Mallory. The idea was supported by the Charleston District Superintendent, C. Ross Culpepper. He assigned a young minister, John William Turley, to survey the neighborhood and determine how many were Methodists or may become Methodists. Ross Culpepper had been a DS since 1955 and was ready for reassignment and was also contemplating retirement. Rather than move from the Charleston area, he asked the Annual Conference to assign him to the special project of starting a new church in this area. The Annual Conference granted the request and in June of 1960 Ross Culpepper became the “St. Paul" of Lakeview. He was first granted time off to attend the World Methodist Conference in England; the medallion on the pulpit is a commemorative plaque from that Conference.
Soon after his new assignment, Ross arranged a meeting with a few community members and a few people from St. Andrew. James R. Williams hosted the meeting at his home at 334 Parkview Dr. About fifteen people were in attendance. Ross informed the group of the plans to build Lakeview Church and that he would be its first pastor.
The developer, Charles R. Walk, donated the land, two building lots, for the church. With a grant of $18,500 from the Building for Christ Fund of the Annual Conference and the able construction and supervisory skills of Ralph Jarrett, Lakeview became a reality in June 1961. The building was the two-story structure that is now the sanctuary and the basement under it.
The first worship service was on June 18, 1961. The floor was bare concrete and the congregation sat on folding chairs. Soon afterward, Mrs. Olive Culpepper donated the Hammond organ that was used by the church for the next thirty years. In September of 1961, the concrete floor was carpeted which improved the acoustics and appearance immeasurably. The dedication service, attended by Bishop Fred G. Holloway and District Superintendent Dr. Lacey H. Burns, was held on December 17, 1961. It was an impressive sight and a time of excitement as 88 charter members were taken into the church.
It soon became apparent that more space was needed for Sunday School classrooms and other activities. In 1962, another construction program was undertaken to add three classrooms, a pastor’s office, and a furnace room. The classrooms were the large classroom on the southeast corner of the building which is now called the kindergarten room, the smaller classroom just north of it, the pastor’s office across the hall, and the room that is now the kitchen. This addition was completed in the spring of 1963. The first event held in the new building was an ice cream social.
A third building program added the multipurpose room, a large classroom, a storage room, a new pastor's office, and converted an existing classroom into a fully equipped kitchen. This program was completed in 1965.
Ross Culpepper had lived in his home in Charleston during the time he was Pastor of Lakeview. He announced his intention to retire from the ministry in 1967. In anticipation of a new pastor who would need a home, a house at 110 Sutherland Drive was purchased for a parsonage. Rev. Donald R. Underwood, just out of seminary, was assigned to Lakeview in June of 1967 and moved into the newly acquired parsonage.
A vacant lot across the street from the church became available in 1968 and the church purchased it that same year for additional parking space and to meet future needs.
The church sanctuary had remained about the same over the years: i.e. carpeted floor, folding chairs, fluorescent lights, and pine planks and steel beams across the ceiling. In 1977, a sanctuary renovation project was under-taken at a cost of $15,500. It provided new carpet, pews, altar, pulpit, choir chairs, painted walls and ceiling and covered ceiling beams. The project included air conditioning.
The need for a larger parsonage was recognized and plans to meet that end were developed in late 1984 and early 1985. The property at 110 Sutherland Drive was sold and a new parsonage was built on the vacant lot across from the church. Construction was started in July 1985 and five months later, in November, the pastor moved into it. Ralph Jarrett donated contract and construction supervision services. The final cost of the project was $68,500 of which $51,000 came from the sale of the old parsonage and the remainder was borrowed from the Bank of St. Albans.
In 1990, there was much concern about the Hammond organ that had been in use since the beginning of the church. The Hammond Company had gone out of business and maintenance of the organ was increasingly difficult with many of its features having become inoperative. The organ was replaced in April of 1991 with a new Galanti II electronic organ at a net cost of about $15,500. A special organ dedication service was held on June 30, 1991.
In the summer of 2001, Lakeview again met the challenge of improvements to their facility. Additional seating, an expanded narthex, and an inside walkway joining the sanctuary and the educational wing were built along with expanded parking and handicap accessible parking and front entrance.
From its inception, Lakeview Church has been dedicated to service for the entire community as a center for religious, civic and cultural activities. Prominent among these in addition to the regular church groups, was the scouting program, for both boys and girls, which started in 1961. The boys program, Troop 126, has produced 21 Eagle Scouts. Kindergarten operated from 1963 to 1978. The buildings have been used for civic meetings, voting precincts, youth center, exercise classes, volleyball, basketball, and first aid training to name a few.
Over the years, this community has been of a transient nature and has kept Lakeview young with new ideas and varied programs. The history of this church is full of people too numerous to mention who have provided invaluable leadership and service to the church and community. As so often happened, they would suddenly move on to other locations and leave us wondering how the void they left could possibly be filled. Miraculously, each need has been filled and the challenge seems to constantly renew the youth and vigor of the church. We pray that it will continue to serve the needs of the community and its people for many years to come.