Ada Chapel began in 1888 as a mission in East Wilmington. At that time, East Wilmington was the impoverished side of town, and Quaker school-teacher Lizzie Harvey was concerned about the well-being of her students who lived there. She began holding gospel meetings in homes throughout East Wilmington where she provided physical and spiritual needs for her students and their families. In 1889, Wilmington Friends Meeting agreed to help Lizzie Harvey with her mission, and Ada Chapel was placed under the meeting’s care.
Eventually, so many people were coming to these gospel meetings that individual homes could no longer hold the crowd. To solve this problem, the East Wilmington Mission Committee of Wilmington Friends rented a room which had been added on to the back of a building in East Wilmington in which to hold gospel meetings. However, the room began to separate from the rest of the building and sink into the ground due to the steadily increasing number of people in attendance. So, Wilmington Friends purchased a lot on Grant Street in 1892 and began raising money to build a chapel. A temporary chapel was erected in 1893, and in 1911—due in part to a generous donation by a woman named Ada Jenkins—the building that is now known as Ada Chapel was completed and dedicated. In addition to the original gospel meetings, Ada Chapel began offering cooking classes, sewing classes, tutoring, temperance meetings, and prayer meetings.
For many years, Ada Chapel shared a pastor with Wilmington Friends Meeting. In 1986, this tradition changed, and Ada Chapel began to have its own pastor.
In 2010, Ada Chapel was given full monthly meeting status in Wilmington Yearly Meeting. Ada Chapel still meets in the chapel that was built in 1911 on Grant Street and although Friends at Ada Chapel would no longer consider Ada Chapel to be a mission, Ada Chapel’s dedication to the neighborhood in which it is in, and commitment to Christ-like love, has not changed.