Ripley’s Beebe Chapel, most diverse church in the area

By Martha Jacob

Beebe Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church was the first of its kind to be built in Ohio and has been serving the Village of Ripley since 1893.
One of the people who helped build Beebe Chapel was former slave Joseph Settles, who spent much of his life helping other slaves through the Underground Railroad. He served the United States in the 4th U.S. Colored Infantry according to the inscription on his gravestone. Joseph Settles died in 1923.
Today, Reverend James Settles, great-grandson of Joseph, pastors the Beebe Chapel.
“My father was Eugene Settles and my mother was Ruena Settles,” Rev. Settles said. “I remember how my mother, every week, would donate a dollar or two to the Beebe Chapel college students whenever she could. My mom died in 1991. The pastor at that time was Rev. Robert Smith. Mom had made such an impression on Rev. Smith that he actually established the Ruena Settles Memorial Scholarship in 1992.”
Rev. Settles said that the awards have ranged from $500 to $1,000 depending on how much the church raises each year with proceeds from an annual musical presentation.
“The awards go to RULH High School graduating seniors,” Rev. Settles said. “The student doesn’t have to live in Ripley but must be a RULH student. The scholarship is overseen by a board that plans the musical and awards the scholarships.”
Last year’s recipients were Daniel Campbell and Haley Barry Payne.
Rev. Settles said that Beebe Chapel continues to serve the Ripley community by operating under the mission statement: The mission of the CME Church in the Second Episcopal District is to form Christian disciples through the systematic training and development of CME clergy and laity.
“I believe that Beebe Chapel may well be the most diverse church in the area,” Rev. Settles said. “We participate in the Ripley community dinners, civic functions and school supply fairs. We take part in the Prison Ministry Angel Tree, supplying Christmas gifts to children of incarcerated parents and we support other CME churches, a Cuban outreach and the Pregnancy Resource Center.
“But most of all we enjoy worshiping and fellowshipping together and we invite everyone to join us in worship.”
Visit Beebe Chapel on facebook for the most recent activities, or call the chapel at (937) 392-0353, located at 438 Main Street in Ripley.