Born: February 27, 1871, Rock Creek, Ohio.
Died: August 22, 1952, Seattle, Washington.
Buried: Sparkman Hillcrest Memorial Park, Dallas, Texas.
Lewis was the son of Thomas and Lomira Chafer, and wife of Ella Loraine Case (married 1896). His father, a parson, died from tuberculosis when Lewis was 11 years old, and his mother supported the family by teaching school and keeping boarders in the family home.
Chafer attended the Rock Creek Public School as a young boy, and the New Lyme Institution in New Lyme, Ohio (1885–88). Here he discovered a talent for music and choir.
He went on to study at Oberlin College (1889–91), where he met his wife Ella. After marriage, they formed a traveling evangelistic music ministry, with him singing or preaching and her playing the organ.
Lewis was ordained in 1900 by a Council of Congregational Ministers in the First Congregational Church in Buffalo. In 1903, he was an evangelist in the Presbytery of Troy in Massachusetts, and became associated with the ministry of Cyrus Scofield, who became his mentor.
During this period, Chafer began writing and developing his theology. He taught Bible classes and music at the Mount Hermon School for Boys (1906–10).
He joined the Orange Presbytery in 1912 due to the increasing influence of his ministry in the south. He aided Scofield in establishing the Pennsylvania School of the Bible in 1913. From 1923–25, he served as general secretary of the Central American Mission.
When Scofield died in 1921, Chafer moved to Dallas, Texas, to pastor the First Congregational Church of Dallas where Scofield had ministered. In 1924, Chafer and his friend William Henry Griffith Thomas realized their vision of a simple, Bible teaching theological seminary and founded Dallas Theological Seminary (originally the Evangelical Theological College). Chafer served as president of the seminary and professor of Systematic Theology from 1924 until his death.
He died with friends while at a conference in Seattle, Washington.
Chafer’s works include: