Rev. Charlene N. Boone was born and reared in Harford County Maryland to the late Charlie and Thelma Smith. She is a graduate of Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia; Bowie State University, Bowie, Maryland; St. Mary’s Seminary, Baltimore, Maryland and Lee University, Cleveland, Tennessee. Rev. Charlene has two adult children: Taryn C. Boone and Dr. Kyle N. Boone. She is the proud grandmother of Kyrynn.
Rev. Charlene was licensed to preach in February 1983 at St. James A.M.E. Church, Havre de Grace, Maryland. She was ordained an Itinerant Deacon in 1986 in the Baltimore Annual Conference by Bishop John Hurst Adams and ordained an Itinerant Elder in 1988 in the East Tennessee Annual Conference by Bishop Cornelius Thomas.
Rev. Charlene began her pastoral career in 1986 serving A.M.E. churches in Tennessee, Kentucky. She was appointed Pastor by Bishop H. Hartford Brookins to Historic Warren Chapel in Chattanooga, Tennessee becoming the first woman to Pastor a 1st church in an Annual Conference. In 2017 she was appointed pastor of Visitors Chapel A.M.E. in Hot Springs, Arkansas. She has served as a delegate to the General Conference 1996-2016. Previously Rev. Charlene has had the honor of being Chair of the Board of Examiners, Member of the Annual Conference Trustee Board, President of Women in Ministry 13th, Treasurer of the Annual Conference 13th Episcopal District. Under to tutelage of Dr. George Champion she was a Regional Director and subsequent Dean of the Department of Worship and Evangelism of the A.M.E. Church under Dr. James Wade. She currently serves as Dean of the East Arkansas Annual Conference Board of Examiners, elected Treasurer of the East Arkansas Annual Conference and Coordinator of Women in Ministry in the East Arkansas Annual Conference. She has had the honor of preaching and teaching in various venues throughout the United States, including Women’s Days; Leadership Retreats and Revivals.
Rev. Charlene is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated and the NAACP. She has served as an Adjunct-Instructor at Lee University, Cleveland, Tennessee where she taught Old and New Testament Studies and Christian Thought.
In her spare time she enjoys reading, making jewelry and cooking. She is currently writing her first book: “Missing God!” and a 365 Day-Devotional.
Rev. Charlene believes it is the “Anointing” that breaks every Yoke, and “Where there is No Vision, the People Perish.”
An Historical Overview of
Visitors Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
In the year 1868, Rev. Henderson Patillo and Rev. B.W. Whitlow traveled by wagon to Hot Springs from Malvern, Arkansas. They were known as Circuit Riders and Readers and met with a few Negro worshippers in Hot Springs, under a brush arbor surrounded by oak trees.
Rev. Henderson Patillo with a small group in 1870 organized the first church on the site of the present Visitors Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church. No record exists of Rev. Patillo in the 1870 census of Hot Springs County, from which Garland County was formed in 1873, however, he is listed in the 1880 census of the City of Hot Springs, age 45 (born 1835) in North Carolina.
Another man who was destined to play an important role in the history of our church was “Diamond Joe” Reynolds, a fabulous Chicago industrialist and one of the most prominent men of his day. In 1873, he and a group of friends were en-route to Silver City, near Hot Springs, to inspect mineral prospects. In order to get to Hot Springs, they had to transfer at Malvern from the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railroad to a stagecoach. After a miserable bumpy stagecoach ride from miserable bumpy stagecoach ride from Malvern. Reynolds vowed he was going to build a narrow gauge railroad from Malvern to Hot Springs and started the project in the spring of 1874. The railroad was completed in 1875 and became known far and wide as the “Diamond Joe Line.” During the time he spent in Hot Springs, God moved the heart of this remarkable, kind, and generous man and he donated the land on which our historic church now stands. The first church was a log cabin type structure, interior and exterior, lighted by oil lamps hung from the center of the ceiling, and tallow candles along the sides of the walls.
The year 1878 proved the first set-back, as the building was destroyed by a fire on March 5th, which ravaged for better than eight hours along Valley Street (now Central Avenue). The entire Hot Springs business district was in ashes, with the loss estimated at $300,000. Loyal members of the church, however, began to rebuild in 1879. Unfortunately, again to the sorrow and disappointment of its members, the second church was destroyed on February 25, 1905, when 25 blocks were devastated by another Hot Springs fire. On a lazy, sultry afternoon, September 5, 1913, a laundress living in a rooming house on Church Street, left a shirt on her ironing board with a burning charcoal furnace dangerously nearby and went next door.
The inevitable happened. From that rooming house, the flames swept rapidly westward, engulfing the church once again. It destroyed 50 blocks, causing a ten million dollar loss, the most disastrous fire in the history of Arkansas.
Rebuilding of our present structure was begun in 1913 under the Pastorate of Rev.H. G. Montgomery; Rev. W. B. Winston, Presiding Elder, and the Presiding Bishop were Bishop W. D. Chappelle.
Our red brick structure located on Cottage and Church Street has been a part of the long-struggling history of Hot Springs for 148 years. Built by slaves and sons of slaves, the architecture of our church, with its towering dome, is unique. It still has the original coal bin which was used to heat the building. Some say it is the Old Ship of Zion, and others the Beacon Light on the Hill.
Forty-seven ministers have served Visitors Chapel. We have been pastored by some of the best leadership of our heritage. Three former pastors and one Presiding Elder were elevated to Bishopric: Bishop Howard T. Primm, Bishop George Wayman Blakely, Bishop George Napoleon Collins, and Bishop O.L. Sherman.
In June 1995, we were listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Currently, under the leadership of Rev. Charlene N. Boone renovations continue to be made to our beloved church.