WASHINGTON – A man approached the Rev. Janice Hisler at a funeral last year and told her of a vacant chapel in need of a pastor.

Hisler, 72, a minister since 1974, said she was more than happy to respond.

She contacted the owner of the Razorville Chapel, Judy Brann of the Razorville section of Washington, and offered to hold Sunday services there.

“I’d been looking for a church, I don’t know how long, and he said, ‘If you open it and be its pastor, I will attend,’” Hisler said. “So on the spur of the moment, we opened it last June. If we had 10 people in here every week, we were lucky.”

Hisler, who formerly preached at the Somerville Church of God, said she failed to advertise the fact that the chapel had reopened. She held weekly services there until September, then closed for the winter.

The chapel, a former schoolhouse built in 1897, was purchased early on by a group of Razorville residents and moved from the top of Youngs Hill to the corner of Youngs Hill Road and Route 105.

“It used to be a schoolhouse up on the hill, and they hauled it down here,” said Arlene Condon of Razorville, a member of the interdenominational group that meets under Hisler’s guidance at the chapel.

Trinity Union, an organization of churches in Knox, Lincoln and Waldo counties, occupied the chapel until 1900, when it was renamed The Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor Chapel. The society closed the chapel in 1942.

During the summer of 1960, young people from the Village Church opened the building for evening meetings. But it closed again in the fall.

Community members got together in 1982 to begin restoring the building. The chapel was jacked up and new sills installed.

The Branns — Judy and her husband, Bradley — paid for the sills and a new roof so the building wouldn’t fall in disrepair.

The Branns acquired the deed from Victor Chapman, the late caretaker of the chapel, “eight or 10 years ago,” said Brann.

“We wanted to keep it up and keep it going,” she said. “Everybody laughs at me when I say I own a church. They say, ‘How can you own a church?’“

Brann said people have continued to use it for weddings and meetings.

More work needs to be done, she said. The windows must be replaced, and the church is asking for contributions to purchase a heating monitor.

The chapel’s one room is covered with tongue-and-groove pine slats. It has the original wooden pews and a pulpit built by Linwood Jones, an ancestor of Bradley Brann. In front of the pulpit is an 1874 Bible.

The building has electricity but its bathroom is an outdoor privy.

“I have a little 6-year-old I care for, and I brought him here the other day,” Hisler said. “He had to use the bathroom, and I said, ‘There it is, there’s the outhouse.’ He couldn’t believe it.

“I said, ‘This is a little house of prayer church, with a little house of prayer bathroom.’“

Hisler is serious about fulfilling the chapel’s potential. “If we can get some heat in here in the winter and get a congregation going, it can be open all year round,” she said. “I want to try and get a congregation going and wake this town up.”


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