We are a strong faith community with a heart in the heart of the Lake of the Ozarks area. Our ministries are committed to sharing the love of Christ to sharing the love of Christ to all who will receive. Therefore:
Our Mission: To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of lake area and world.
Our Pledge: Harper Chapel shall be to gather an inclusive family of faith with resources for the journey of life under the guidance of the Holy Spirit by
Come join us in our ministries, and help us to change lives. Yours may be the one changed.
The United Methodist Church is an 11-million-strong global church that opens hearts, opens doors and opens minds through active engagement with our world.
John Wesley and the early Methodists placed primary emphasis on Christian living, on putting faith and love into action. This emphasis on what Wesley referred to as "practical divinity" has continued to be a hallmark of United Methodism today.
We invite you to learn more about our rich theological heritage.
Our Christian Roots
United Methodists share a common heritage with all Christians. According to our foundational statement of beliefs in The Book of Discipline, we share the following basic affirmations in common with all Christian communities.
Our Wesleyan Theological Heritage Distinctive Emphases
Wesley and the early Methodists were particularly concerned about inviting people to experience God’s grace and to grow in their knowledge and love of God through disciplined Christian living. They placed primary emphasis on Christian living, on putting faith and love into action. This emphasis on what Wesley referred to as "practical divinity" has continued to be a hallmark of United Methodism today.
The distinctive shape of our theological heritage can be seen not only in this emphasis on Christian living, but also in Wesley's distinctive understanding of God's saving grace. Although Wesley shared with many other Christians a belief in salvation by grace, he combined them in a powerful way to create distinctive emphases for living the full Christian life. Click here to learn more.
Reflecting on Our Faith
There are two kinds of believing, and both are essential for Christian life. They’re closely related and influence each other, but they’re different. One is belief and the other, beliefs. One is faith and the other, doctrine or theology.
Faith is the basic orientation and commitment of our whole being—a matter of heart and soul. Christian faith is grounding our lives in the living God as revealed especially in Jesus Christ. It’s both a gift we receive within the Christian community and a choice we make. It’s trusting in God and relying on God as the source and destiny of our lives. Faith is believing in God, giving God our devoted loyalty and allegiance. Faith is following Jesus, answering the call to be his disciples in the world. Faith is hoping for God’s future, leaning into the coming kingdom that God has promised. Faith-as-belief is active; it involves trusting, believing, following, hoping.
Theology or doctrine is more a matter of the head. It’s thinking together in the community of believers about faith and discipleship. It’s reflecting on the gospel. It’s examining the various beliefs we hold as a church. Some may say that theology is only for professional theologians. This is not true. All of us, young and old, lay and clergy, need to work at this theological task so that our beliefs will actually guide our day-by-day actions and so that we can communicate our belief to an unbelieving world.
Excerpt from United Methodist Member’s Handbook, Revised by George Koehler (Discipleship Resources, 2006), pp. 61. Click here to learn more.
Foundational Documents of The United Methodist Faith
Just as creeds such as the Apostles' Creed summarize the belief of all Christians, the Articles of Religion of The Methodist Church and the Confessions of Faith of The Evangelical United Brethren Church form a foundation of doctrine for United Methodists. They, along with Wesley's Sermons on Several Occasions and Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament, are "standards" of doctrine for United Methodists. Click here to learn more.
Thomas W. Ezard (1818-1885) and Charles Avery Harper (1837) both arrived in the area of Zebra, Missouri from England, traveling via Canada. They built farms near the church’s present-day location and became friends. It is possible that they knew each other in England as well.
In 1868, the Ezard Class recorded its beginnings, meeting in homes to study Methodism, pray and sing hymns.
One of the Thomas W. and Jane J. Ezard’s daughters, Honor (1843-1916), married Charles Avery Harper after his first wife died. Among other children, the couple had a son, also named Charles A. Harper. In later years the son used the initials A.C. Harper instead of C.A. Harper to help eliminate complications in mail delivery. Many individuals from these two extended families occupied land North and East of Harper Chapel for nearly 100 years.
In 1910 the congregation began to think of having their own church building and on 20 April 1911. Asa Farmer and his wife Ethel and C.P. Wade gave “one square acre” on the State Road (now Highway 54), located between Linn Creek and Zebra for the church.
Charles A Harper Jr. (1864-1936), as leader of the group, took the major responsibility for raising funds and was active in the actual construction of a concrete building which was dedicated January 26, 1912, and named Harper Chapel.
“My grandfather growed up and built the church. His first wife died; they had three children. Then he married an Ezard on the second go around. Their sons, Clifford and Arthur Harper, helped to build the church too. One was 18 and the other was 14. They hauled a lot of the materials. It all came by boat down the Osage River in those days. The cement they took to their barn so it wouldn’t get wet. (Lora Harper, 1995)”
In 1938, Zebra became Osage Beach.
Although the building of Bagnell Dam from 1929 to 1931 helped the area’s economic welfare, the Great Depression still produced negative effects. Tourism struggled during those early years and all the good farm land had been inundated with water.
“During the 1930’s Harper Chapel church was in such despair and not being used. My mother, Elsie Mansfield McDowell, and Ida Forrester worked hard to get it cleaned up. They paid for windows to be replaced on at a time; they had all been broken out. We began to have church and we got our young people together. They called it the Epworth League.” (Mildred Franklin, 1995)
A Ladies Aid Society was formed in 1937 and helped both spiritually and materially in the growth of the church.
In 1946, a group within the church, the Woman’s Society of Christian Service, started raising funds for an additional Sunday School classroom and a kitchen. This addition was dedicated in 1954. The wishing well from the earliest church building still remains.
Classes are starting up soon for you to learn more about United Methodism and Harper Chapel and why we do what we do. Stop by, email or call the office to get signed up for the correct date and time. We look forward to having you on this journey!
At Harper Chapel, membership is an important process; we work with each individual to better understand the will of God for the church and for their life. (Please note that membership is not required to participate in service, missions, small groups, or communion.)
We offer a series of four areas that are designed to help you learn what it means to be a member at Harper Chapel. These include Methodist history, doctrine, polity, and getting connected. At the end of completing all three classes, you may let us know by making a Membership Covenant that you are ready to be faithful with your prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness of how your life and heart are being transformed by Christ's love and the message of hope we bring as we serve in our community.
Pastor Jon Thompson came to Harper Chapel in 2010. He has served as pastor of St. Luke's UMC in St. Louis, First United Methodist Church, and Kewanee United Methodist in New Madrid, MO, Bellflower Charge (four local churches in central Missouri), St. Jacob United Methodist in St. Jacob, Ill., and Worden United Methodist in Worden, Ill. He was also youth pastor at First United Methodist in East Alton, Ill.
Jon earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from McKendree College, and his Master of Divinity degree from Eden Theological Seninary. He was ordained as a deacon in the Southern Illinois Conference in 1993, and was ordained as an elder in the Missouri East Conference in 1996.
For 14 years, he was the youth director for three districts, and served on the disaster relief board for two years, the Conference Council of Youth Ministries for eight years, and he currently serves on the District Committee of Ordained Ministry and as mentor for candidates for ordained ministry.
He was a member of Optimist International in St. Louis for nine years, and has been a mason since 2003.
He is married to his wife, Nona, for 33 years, and together they have two children: Bryan and his wife Jennifer, and Raymond and his wife Angie. They have two grandchildren, Bryce and Mackenzie.
Jon and his family enjoy the opportunity to relax, fish, swim, and go boating at the Lake of the Ozarks.