The story of Chapel Hill begins with the Rev. Dr. Jerry Vogt, who was then serving as a District Superintendent of the Kansas West Conference of the United Methodist Church. The Rev. Vogt approached the members of the former Bethel United Methodist Church (at Estelle and Waterman in Wichita) about a vision of starting a new church to reach the growing population in the northeast area of the city. In a unanimous vote, the Bethel members approved a motion to found the new church.
On January 15, 1995 the first meeting to start planning the new congregation was held. The following Sunday, a group of 12 people started meeting weekly at the home of Paul and Jan Longhofer for prayer and planning. Approximately 43 acres of undeveloped land at the northwest corner of 13th Street North and K-96 Highway was purchased by the Wichita United Methodist District Union with support from the Kansas West Conference of the United Methodist Church.
The group began asking God and each other how the new church would uniquely fulfill the Great Commission of making disciples for the transformation of the world. From the beginning, they knew preaching and living the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ would be the central tenet of the church’s teachings. They also wanted the Good News to be presented in such a way as to be relevant to everyday life so those attending would personally experience Jesus as Lord, Savior, Teacher and Friend. They also had a deep desire to create a Christian community where one could grow in love for God and each other through small groups. In summary, the core message was to be grace and the method to make it come alive was through discipleship – learning from Jesus how to experience zoe life on earth as it is in heaven.
In March of 1995, the founders met on the land to pray and seek God’s direction. The first official Chapel Hill service was held Sunday, October 1, 1995 at Wichita Collegiate High School. After considering several options, the name Chapel Hill was selected because of the rise upon which the new church would stand.