The first meetings of this society as a class were held sometime before the year 1828 in the home of Isaiah Winters, which was an old log house on what is now known as the John Spahn farm, formerly the Thomas Nixon place, located a little more than a mile west of Wintersville on the Steubenville-Richmond road.
The class was composed of the following members:
Richard Coulter and wife, Robert Morton and wife, Isaiah Winters and wife, Thomas Porter and wife, William Nixon and wife, Mrs. Adams and Mrs. Clark Hall.
It required more than six weeks for the preacher in charge to make the round of the circuit, but as he had the help of one or two junior preachers, there was preaching service every three weeks. These services were held on Friday and usually were well attended. The order of the services was about the same as it is now, except that the minister “lined out the hymns” by which is meant that he read two lines of the hymn to the congregation which the people proceeded to sing: Then two more lines were read, and so on to the close of the hymn. Jacob Vail was the chorister, but he had no choir. The singing was purely congregational, everybody singing with the spirit.
In going to the meetings, everybody either walked or went on horseback - sometimes three or four on a horse.
William Nixon was the first class leader. He was succeeded by Jacob Vail, and he by Daniel Devore.
The class continued to meet and the preaching services to be held in the home of Isaiah Winters for about five years when they were moved to the home of Robert Morton near the Ross School-house.
During the time that meetings were held in the Winters and Morton homes, a great number of accessions were made to the society. Among this number were John F. Winters, Jane (Huston) Winters, Samuel Morton, Israel Massey, wife and daughter, David Maxwell and wife, Elizabeth (Winters) Morton, Catherine (Winters) Floyd, Isaiah Winters and wife and Sarah (Mansfield) Roberts. Descendants of these persons are still to be found in the membership of this church.
About the year 1835, at the home of Robert Morton, the class organized as a church and became a part of the Richmond circuit.
In 1841, William Roberts thinking his wife had too far to go to church, built a little brick church on the site of the cemetery just west of town and sold it to the Richmond circuit, the purchase price being $625.00 The deed was made on March 9, 1844. The building, however, was dedicated in 1842, the Rev. George B. Holmes being the pastor at that time. The first trustees were Jacob Vail, William Roberts, Henry Oliver and Samuel Morton.
When the preaching services were held on Friday, prayer and class meetings were held on Sunday. If any member failed to pay his assessment (“Quarterage”) he did not receive a ticket to the Communion service.
At the spring Conference of 1865, this church was separated from the Richmond charge and became the head of the Wintersville circuit which was composed of the following churches:
Wintersville, Center Chapel (“Sixteen”), Hayes’ Chapel near Broadacre and Bray’s Chapel near Costonia. Among the families prominent in the church at that time were Solomon Jones, Solomon Hipsley, Thomas Roberts, Benjamine Coe, Adam Beltz, H. O. Roberts, Samuel Morton, Jane Winters, Elijah Lowry, James Eldred, John Floyd, Wesley Scott, David England and William Kirk.
Each year protracted meetings lasting for a week were attended by great revivals. The congregation grew rapidly and it became necessary to construct a larger building. In 1868, a new church was begun on the site occupied by the present edifice, but it was not dedicated until June of 1869. The members of the building committee were Benjamine Coe, Thomas Roberts and John Floyd. The cost of this structure was $10,000.00. The Rev. John Connor was the pastor at the time of dedication.
Sometime in the latter part of 1923, this second church building was condemned by the state inspector on account of fire hazard. Temporary arrangements were made whereby the congregation continued to use the building for church purposes through the winter. During the summer and fall of 1924, the official board gave serious consideration to ways and means of meeting the demands of the state. Other elements which entered into the deliberations of this body were the need of better Sunday School facilities, and the rapid increase in the population of the Wintersville community with every prospect that this increase would continue for sometime.
After considering every possible plan looking toward a solution of the requirements of the state which at best would be nothing more than temporary, the Board finally decided that the wisest courst to pursue, in view of all the elements involved, would be to construct a new building. The plans of several churches were examined, the Board finally adopting the one over which the present structure was built. A building committee was chosen with the following persons as members: S. M. Floyd, W. B. Starkey, U. G. Powell, James McConnell, Frank Shepherd and the pastor.
The last service n the second building was held on March 29, 1925, a former pastor, the Rev. S. P. Loyd, delivered the sermon on that memorable occasion. The work of wrecking the old building began the next day.
Out from the Wintersville church have gone two missionaries - J. E. and J. F. Scott and five preachers - E. E. Day, J. B. England, James C., William N., and E. H. Roberts.
The new church is a striking example of distinctly classic design. It has a portico entrance at the front and direct entrance through a vestibule to the auditorium on the east side, on this side also is the entrance to the church office and the outside way to the basement.
From the front vestibule a foyer leads to the auditorium properl. To the right of this foyer is the ladies’ parlor with toilet connection: and on the left is the Beginners’ Department of the Church School. The foyer leads direct to the rear of the auditorium. The auditorium has a seating capacity of 300 and is exceedingly well lighted and well ventilated.
The design is cathedral, with level floors and straight pews. To the rear of the auditorium and over the foyer section is the church school proper. Here are class rooms produced by the use of movable partitions. When these partitions are thrown back an assembly room is produced that will seat 240 people. This room can be opened into the auditorium as a balcony to take care of large audiences on special occasions.
The basement contains a dining and social room thirty-eight by sixty-three feet, a large well arranged kitchen, men’s cloak room and toilet, boiler and fuel room.
The entire building was decorated by the Myers Garey Company of Steubenville, Ohio, and presents an unusually attractive appearance. Tests have proved the acoustics of the building to e practically perfect. The architect was J. Kerr Giffen of St. Clairsville, Ohio. The cost of the structure is $60,000.00.
The first sermon in the new building was preached on Easter morning, April 4, 1926, by the Rev. William F. Conner, D. D., whose father was pastor of the church when the former house of worship was built. District Superintendent H. S. Powell delivered the sermon Easter evening. Through the week, the following brethern were present to occupy the pulpit: P. S. Neldon, D. E. Scott, N. M. Weyrick, E. H. Roberts and E. L. Lea. President Albert Edwin Smith of Ohio Northern University preached in the morning and afternoon of April 11, conducting the dedicatory service at the conclusion of the afternoon meeting. The Rev. J. C. Smith, a former pastor, was the preacher at the evening service.
This part of the history of the Wintersville Methodist E. Church ends with the dedication of the new church in April 1926.
From the dedication of the new church on April 4, 1926, the church continued to grow in numbers, as well as dedication to its task. The goal of paying off the debt, was kept uppermost in the minds and work of the pastors and people. The Rev. Edward Q. Morris, under whose ministry the new church was built and dedicated, terminated his pastorate in 1927. The Rev. W. E. Speaker served as pastor in 1927-1928. The Rev. F. C. Landfear served in 1928-1930 and The Rev. Claude H. Roe served during 1910-1932. Under each of these hard working, devoted ministers the church continued to grow steadily, though rather slowly since the great growth of the community had not yet begun. The debt was slowly reduced and the church grew in the faith of its founders. In 1932, the Rev. Fred R. McVicker became the pastor. On April 20, 1934 after much discussion the Official Board instructed the trustees to take the necessary steps to incorporate the church. The articles of Incorporation were read and approved by the Board and the Incorporation became final on May 16, 1934. It was incorporated under the name of the Wintersville Methodist Episcopal Church. Later after the unification of the Episcopal and Protestant Branches it was changed to the Wintersville Methodist Church. Shortly after this, in late 1934, a plan known as the “Ferny Shares Plan” was adopted as the best means of raising money to pay off the debt on the building. Prior to this the debt had been considerably reduced by individual pledges, Ladies’ Adi funds, church school classed and by bequests. Under the new plan the majority of the members subscribed for “shares” as they felt they could. Certain Sundays were designated as “Penny Share Sunday” and members brought their payments on their shares and placed them on the altar. The plan proved highly successful. A committee consisting of Myron W. George, Francis P. Taylor and Ralph McCombs were largely responsible for putting the plan into practice. From then on, the debt on the church building was systematically reduced.
On February 24, 1935 our beloved pastor, the Rev. Fred R. McVicker passed away, after a short illness of masroiditis and complications. He left his wife Ethel, and sons Ronald and Harold. His daughter Joyce was born after his death. No minister had been more loved by his people and he was mourned by the entire community. He was a tireless faithful worker and an outstanding minister. After his death, the Rev. Oliver A. Kelley became our pastor on March 22,1935. On April 1, Sherman M. Floyd called to the attention of the Official Board, that this was the centennial year of the founding of the church. A committee was appointed to arrange for the celebration. They were S. M. Floyd, James McConnell, Donald G. Powell, C. Frank Purviance and James H. George. The date was set for October 16 - 20, 1935. It began on Wednesday evening Oct. 16. The address sermons on each evening were by the Rev. J. C. Roberts of Crestline, (A native son of this church) the Rev. L. A. Pruitt of Cleveland and by the Rev. W. C. Patterson of Cadiz, respectively. On Sunday the sermon at 10:45 A.M. was by Dr. Louis C. Wright, Pres. Of Baldwin-Wallace College. Special music was by the church choirs and solos and duets and quartettes by choir members. In the afternoon a platform hour in charge of the Rev. C. D. Marston, Dist. Supt. Greetings from former ministers were given and messages from ministers unable to be present were read. The evening sermon was by the Rev. Paul Secrest of East Liverpool. (A detailed program is on file in the pastor’s study.)
The Rev. O. A. Kelley served as pastor until September 1937 when the Rev. Aubrey E. Kirby. The Rev. Kelley served faithfully and his pastorate was a fruitful one. Unified services were tried out for six weeks early in 1938 and then adopted by the vote of the Official Board. On October 3, 1938 it was announced that Emma Floyd had willed $1l,000.00 to the church to be placed in a trust fund.
An electric organ, an “Orgatron” and chimes were purchased in 1941 at an approximate cost of $2,200.00. Miss Hannah Evans gave one half the cost. A gift of an illuminated cross was received from Sherman M. Floyd in memory of his wife Lula George Floyd. Numerous other gifts have been received from members, but are not listed in available records. We wish that we might list all of them.
On June 7, 1942 the debt of the church building having been paid off, a mortgage burning ceremony and Home Coming were held. The Rev. Kirby was in charge. Dr. Paul Carter, District Supt. Preached the morning sermon. At 3 P.M the mortgage burning ceremony was held. The mortgage was presented by S. M. Floyd, treasurer of Board of Trustees to James McConnell V, Chairman of the Official Board. F. P. Taylor representing the “Penny Shares” committee assisted by former ministers assisted in burning the mortgage. (A detailed program is on file in the pastor’s study.)
The Rev. Aubrey Kirby having served faithfully and well for five years as our devoted pastor was assigned to another church in 1942 and the Rev. Glenn L. Tennell became our minister. The Rev. William N. Roberts, a native son, and now retired, was made minister Emeritus of our church in September 1942. He was of much help in the work of this church and other churches of the community, until his health failed. The Rev. Tennell worked hard and served well until September 1945 when he was assigned to another church and the Rev. John E. Longsworth became our minister. Our community was growing rapidly and during his and recent pastorates, the church grew accordingly. He was especially active in calling on prospective members. We began providing the devotional booklet the “Upper Room” for use in the homes and it is still being used.
Many young man and some of our young women from our Church, served in World War II, from 1941 to 1945. A Service flay was dedicated in their honor and the minister and people tried to keep in touch with them. Carl D. Welday paid the supreme sacrifice on July 1, 1944 in the crash of a plane at Lourey Field, Denver Colorado. Frederick Gillespie was killed in action. Also in World War II.
On December 1945 a Welcome Home Dinner and program was held in honor of the men and women who have served during the war and had returned.
In July 1947 the use of bulletins with the picture of our church on the cover, was begun. The visitation of laymen, calling on prospective members was begun in a systematic way in 1948. Because of the rapid growth of our church membership and church school, a campaign was launched in the Spring of 1950 to raise a minimum of $60,000.00 for church building expansion. In 1951 the Unified Budget system was adopted and from then on finances were taken care of in a systematic way.
During the years 1951-1952 a large addition to the church was built and was ready for use during the Easter Season 1952. The approximate cost was $120,000.00. It is brick construction matching the church building, two stories, and contains church school class rooms, a chapel, a small kitchen, a scout room, hallways, rest rooms, a large kitchen and furnace room. The former study, choir room and chancel were enlarged. The former kitchen is now a part of the dining room, used also as a Fellowship Hall. It has recently been redecorated and an insulated ceiling installed making a commodious and beautiful dining and room and Fellowship Hall.
The cost of the new addition was met by using the $60,000 on hand and borrowing the balance. It has been steadily reduced by personal pledges, church school classed and Woman’s Society of Christian Service and contributions by a number of bequests.
In June 1953 the Rev. Longsworth was assigned another church. His had been the longest pastorate in our history so far, eight years. It was marked by a rapid growth in membership and much improvement in equipment because of the hard work of the pastor and people.
The Rev. Wilbur B. Meiser was assigned as our Minister. The church continued to grow and prosper in every way and more equipment was added. In 1957 a new Hammond Electric Organ was purchased and the cost was soon paid off by contributions and sale of a former organ. The approximate cost was $3,100.
On January 1, Mr. James bass assumed the duties of our first minister of music.
In 1958, the former parsonage was razed, the ground leveled and black topped to be used as a parking lot. Two years previous, the parsonage being in poor condition, another house was rented and used as a parsonage during the remainder of Rev. Meiser’s pastorate. It was found during the razing that the parsonage had been built in 1891 and so had been used for more than 65 years. During Rev. Meiser’s pastorate the system of duplicate services on Sunday Mornings, was begun. A public address system for the building was installed and numerous improvements and equipment added. The church continued to grow in faith and in numbers. In June 1958 the Rev. Meiser having served faithfully and well for five years, was assigned to another church and Dr. Merrill A. Chaffee became the pastor. The grading and black topping of the parking lot, mentioned above was done during the early months of his pastorate. Dr. Chaffee purchased a home, and it became the parsonage. In the fall a chest known as the “Joash” Chest was designed, built and placed within the chancel of the church. Sunday December 7, was designated as “Joash” Sunday. Members brought their tithes and contributions and placed them in the chest. The money received to be applied on the debt for the new parking lot. The lot was opened for use in November. On December 28, a get together lunch was held for all young people in Service, College or working away from home, who were home on vacation. Also for High School Seniors. A group of the young people had charge of the evening worship services.
In addition to the names of ministers gone out from the membership of this church already listed, we should add the names of John Buchanan, Thomas Snyder and Robert Nelson all now in College or Seminary, preparing for the ministry. Gayle McCoy Woodward was for a number of years a missionary I Brazil S. A. She grew up in this church, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Steward McCoy.
The debt on the church addition has now been reduced to $20,777.78 on January 1, 1959. The membership on Jan. 1, 1959 is 990.
Your historians have tried to compile a short history of our church. It is very incomplete, only the high spots have been touched and no doubt many of them have been left out. We would have liked to list the names of the men and women who have contributed so much to the growth of this church down through the years. However, knowing that in doing so many deserving folks names might be left out, we have refrained from trying to compile such a list. The history of this church is really their history. Their names may be found in the records on file. This part of the church history has been prepared by Mr. C. Frank Purviance.
Mrs. Frank Purviance concluded her history at the beginning of Dr. Merrill Chaffee’s Pastorate. He served the church from June 1958 until June of 1961. Since the demolition of the old parsonage, the church rented residences for the Pastors until a new one was purchased on Grandview Drive in November of 1960 for the sum of $28,000, plus drapes, carpeting and rugs. Dr. Chaffee and wife, Mabel, moved in on January and were moved to Barberton in June. Rev. Richard Swogger became the Pastor.
Many bequests of money were given the church in the following years and lest some be innocently omitted from the History, we will refer you to the Memorial Book where all are listed.
Shan Yohan, from India, joined with us in the work of the church in 1964 and 1965, helping with the Sunday School and the Vacation Bible School. Her husband and two sons joined her in 1965, planning to return to India to teach, bus as far as we know they went to Georgia for more education and did not return to India.
In June 1965, Rev. Charles Dailey, wife Mary and five children, John, Judith, Helen, Stephen and Ted, became our church family. The church grew as we read a report, that from 1965 to 1977, he baptized 190 babies, performed 125 weddings and received 375 members.
(Our many thanks to Kitty Kutchmark for typing this history.)
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