Beloved family advocate Rosa Chapman crosses over at 74

| December 7, 2016
Minister Rosa Chapman

Minister Rosa Chapman

Founded Friends of Bethany ministry with husband Prince Chapman

FORT WAYNE—The community lost one of its most powerful voices for youth, women and family, with the passing of a visionary spiritual leader.
Rosa Lee Chapman, founder of the Friends of Bethany ministry, went to be with her Lord and Savior on Friday, November 25, 2016, after complications from a year long illness. She was surrounded by her loving children.
Born February 19, 1942, in Uniontown, Alabama, Rosa was the oldest of eight children and the daughter of Earlean and Joe Dansby Sr.
In 1960, Rosa married Prince Chapman of Fort Wayne. The couple had four children, Anthony (Regina) Chapman of Temple, Texas, Bryan (Sharon) Chapman of Indianapolis, Eric (Jacklin) Chapman of Bowie, Maryland, and Sandra Chapman (Randal) Taylor of Indianapolis.
For 30 years Rosa worked as a licensed cosmetologist, before giving her full attention to the ministry she loved. Rosa spread joy with her bright smile as a chaplain at St. Joseph Hospital in Fort Wayne. She also founded several charities for underserved youth and women including “Birthing the Vision” a mentoring program for young pregnant mothers.
In 1998, Rosa and Prince founded “Friends of Bethany” as part of their loving service to at-risk youth. Rosa served as the executive director for 12-years, never wavering, even after the tragic loss of her lifetime love, Prince.
Rosa’s community leadership brought her countless awards and commendations including “The Partner in Progress Award” from the State of Indiana and the Lt. Governor’s Office. Rosa retired in January of 2011 and moved to Indianapolis to be near her 10-grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
While much of the city knew Minister Chapman through her work in the community, family members explain that it was simply a true reflection of who Mother Chapman was as a wife, mother and grandmother.
As her daughter, Sandra Chapman Taylor explained, Rosa Chapman always had an unshakable commitment to the family—one Rosa and her husband Prince Chapman demonstrated on a daily basis. Sandra Chapman said her parents first taught them the value of a healthy spiritual life, seeing to it that all the children were raised in the church and successfully shepherded through the education system. That’s when Rosa and Prince Chapman’s ministry began to flourish. She said both her parents were active in the church and community, particularly when it came to young people, but they stepped up those outreach efforts after their own children reached adulthood.. “They felt like they could offer something to someone else, another child who had no vision of what they could do or what they could accomplish at life. That’s kind of where it started.
It just gave them a renewed energy to try to pour into the children of the community.”
While her mother later became widely known for her work with young people, Sandra Chapman said that wasn’t her earliest ministry.
“It [the youth ministry] started with my dad. My mom actually started out with women,” she said of her mother, who at the time was working with the church missionary group.
“My dad was a football coach for Metro Youth League. He coached the Chargers. He loved it,” said Sandra Chapman.
She said that her father quickly recognized that boys on team often had no father figures in their lives. Prince Chapman often would have to pick the boys up to take them to practice.  Along the way, his daughter said he would learn more about the individual boys and some of the things with which they were living. Sandra Chapman said he talked to his wife Rosa about the problems facing those young people and passed along that concern. Both knew the value of a good spiritual foundation for success in life and moved in that direction to help those young people.
“So, they began doing Bible classes after school— ‘The Good News Club,’” said Sandra Chapman. Prince and Rosa Chapman held those club meetings at Village Woods Elementary School and opened them not only for students but for parents as well.
That ministry grew.
“They loved it! They loved working with kids and they were good at it,” said their daughter. Then they decided to start Friends of Bethany.”
One of the key programs Rosa Chapman built into the Friends of Bethany ministry was parenting classes.
“As my mother was working with some of these children, she was seeing a generation of parents who were very young parents,” said Sandra Chapman. “They were young mothers—and some fathers in some cases— and in many of (the families), one parent was missing. What she really saw was that because of the circumstances many of the children were in, they were missing out on the kind of development she believed children should have in their lives—mentoring, teaching.”
Friends of Bethany worked to include parents in its curriculum.
Sandra Chapman said her mother saw other problems in those young families, particularly with young children being involved or exposed to criminal activity.
“It was very clear to her that this was an area that needed much focus,” said Sandra Chapman, adding that her mother saw a need to help those young parents train up their children “in a Godly way.”
Rosa Chapman looked to her faith and the scriptures for guidance. That, said her daughter, was the reason she began her formal Christian studies and eventually was ordained a minister.
“I don’t know that she set out for that intentionally (ordination). My mom fell in love with the scriptures,” said Sandra Chapman.
She said her mother, realizing the potential the scriptures held for giving insight and solutions to everyday societal problems, wanted to grow in her knowledge of the Lord. Rosa Chapman started taking classes at a local Bible institute to gain more understanding of the scriptures. She put her growing knowledge to practical use, allowing it to help shape her ministry and to more effectively reach out to those in need. Although she did receive her ordination, Sandra Chapman said the title of “Minister” wasn’t the sole focus.
“She was not caught up in the label. All she wanted to do was share the scriptures, share the things that God had imparted to her,” she said.
Sandra Chapman said she wanted to use a spiritual basis and platform to talk about families and how to heal them.
Being a woman in the Baptist church with its reluctance to acknowledge women preachers, Sandra Chapman admitted that her mother wasn’t always welcomed in some venues but there were some that did invite her to speak. And, as more people heard her spiritual message to children and families she began to get more support.
“I think that she would share her message and more and more men began to appreciate what she had to say,” said Sandra Chapman.
At the end of the day, she said her mother’s ministry was successful because she was “faithful.”
I’m very glad she was willing to speak out on behalf of children, speak out on behalf of women, teach about parenting faith and salvation,” said Sandra Chapman.
While none of the four Chapman children have direct child ministries like their parents, all are still very much involved in the church and their communities.
“They had raised us and it was time for us to give back,” explained Sandra Chapman. “We all went to college and all branched out. We all are active in our churches. That may not look like what my mom did but we are all faithful members.”
Still, the Chapman legacy of working with young people is not exactly in the background in this generation. Sandra Chapman is an investigative reporter for WTHR Channel 13 in Indianapolis, often covering issues that impact women and children.
Her husband Randal Taylor, is an assistant police chief with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. Prior to his appointment, he was the commander of IMPD’s community affairs program where he focused on at-risk youth.
Sandra Chapman said her mom shared a lot with her husband.
“He and mom would talk. The would talk a lot because they had the same goal in mind—promote programs that would help youth to break the cycle of crime and violence.” said Sandra Chapman.
She said the Chapman children might have different talents from their parents Prince and Rosa, but share a passion for helping where they can.
“They just always asked us to do our best with who we are in our areas of influence,” said Sandra Chapman.
In addition to her children, Rosa Chapman is survived by her siblings, Joe Dansby Jr. of Uniontown, Alabama, Thelma (Willie) Page of Fort Wayne, Irene (Barry) Reid of Port St. Lucie, Florida, Doris (James) Thompson of Memphis, Tennessee, Mary (Raymond) Craig of Fort Wayne, James (Crystal) Dansby of Anniston, Alabama, Rebecca (Steve) Tyus-Boozer of Atlanta,and Carolyn Harding of Fort Myers, Florida. She was preceded in death by her beloved sister, Elizabeth; and brother-in-law, Ned Moore.
A Celebration of Life service was held Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016, at Pilgrim Baptist Church, Fort Wayne. Charity donations can be made to Friends of Bethany, Inc., PO Box 6325, Fort Wayne, IN 46896.

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Category: Community, History, Local, People, Spiritual Matters

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Frost Illustrated is Fort Wayne's oldest weekly newspaper. Your Independent Voice in the Community, featuring news & views of African Americans since 1968.

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