Wake Chapel began in 1856 when twenty or so people were born again at a brush arbor revival. Two years later one acre of land was donated on which to build its first meeting place. The Sanctuary we meet in today is the third building, built in 1923, and remodeled in 1968.
When organized in 1856 Wake Chapel aligned itself with the Christian Church denomination.
In 1792, James O'Kelly, dissatisfied with the role of bishops in the Methodist Episcopal Church, separated from that body. O'Kelly's movement, centering in Virginia and North Carolina, was originally called the Republican Methodist Church. In 1794 they adopted the name Christian Church.
Working with similarly minded movements from New Hampshire and Vermont, O’Kelly believed that members could, by looking to scripture alone, simply be Christians without being bound to human traditions and the denominations that had been brought over from Europe.
The Christian Church merged with the National Council of the Congregational Churches of the United States in 1931 to form the Congregational Christian Churches. In 1957 after twenty years of discussion, the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church, itself the product of the merger of two German-American denominations, forged the United Church of Christ.
However, in 1984, the membership of Wake Chapel voted to withdraw from the United Church of Christ choosing to organize itself as an independent non-denominational church.
As far as the full name of the church (Wake Chapel Christian Church) the “Christian” part of the name (that used to stand for its denominational identifier) is no longer functional, as that denomination no longer exists, except as part of the UCC, which Wake Chapel withdrew from decades ago.
The name’s other components “Wake” and “Chapel” have a more straightforward significance. Wake refers to the county in which it resides. Historically, the term chapel usually refers to a Christian place of prayer and worship that is attached to a larger, often nonreligious institution, or that is considered an extension of a primary religious institution. It may be part of a larger structure or complex, such as a college, hospital, palace, prison, funeral home, church, synagogue or mosque, located on board a military or commercial ship, or it may be an entirely free-standing building, sometimes with its own grounds. But chapel has also referred to independent or nonconformist places of worship in Great Britain—outside the established church.
Such as it is, the name fits quite well; after all we are a Christian place of prayer and worship, within Wake County.