Ansonia Church marks 150th anniversary

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This is a frontal view of the Ansonia United Methodist Church which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. This is where the sanctuary sanctuary is housed. (Complimentary photo)

ANSONIA—The Ansonia United Methodist Church is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year with quite a few events in store throughout the year to commemorate this milestone. The original church building at West High and Pearl streets, was constructed and dedicated in March 1873 after its purchase in January that year. At the time, it was known as the Dallas Methodist Episcopal Church. That is, until the town’s name changed to Ansonia on May 10, 1885.

The Rev. Roger Emerson and wife Peggy have served the Ansonia church for six years but will be leaving in June to move back to their hometown. (Complimentary photo)

Mike Henderson, chairman of finances at the United Methodist Church, reports there is a plan to hold a special lunch for the members on March 26 to commemorate the anniversary.

Other highlights throughout this year of celebration will be former pastors returning to speak to the congregation.

“We are inviting previous pastors to come back once a month to speak, starting in May,” said the current pastor, the Rev. Roger Emerson. “The first Sunday of every month, we will feature ‘a church history moment’ talking about 10 years of information on the church.”

Both he and Henderson reported that the cornerstone that had been placed in the church in the 1970s has been removed.

Mike and Debbie Henderson have been working with the Team 150 Historical Committee readying the church for its celebration starting soon. Mike is chairman of finances and his wife has been busy working on the history of the church for the celebration. (Complimentary photo)

“We will reveal the contents that were placed in it from a 1978 consecration service, the last time the cornerstone was opened,” Henderson said. “Bruce Brooks, the current Vision Team chairperson (chair of the leadership team) heads up the activities of the church. He recently helped open up our cornerstone.”

The 1902 cornerstone, according to historical information, was added when the old original church was enlarged with a Sunday school classroom and the altar addition in 1902, 29 years after the original church was built in 1873. J.T. Pope was the pastor at that time.

Yes, the church has supported the community over the years.

Here is the cornerstone that is expected to be opened at the church members’ lunch on May 26. (Complimentary photo)

Team 150 is the Historical Committee from the church that was organized last summer to plan the 150th celebration. Those serving on the committee are: Ted and Wilma Strait, Gary and Judy Middleton, Mike and Debbie Henderson and Pastor Emerson.

Emerson and wife Peggy will be leaving the church in July to return to their hometown and closer to family after spending the last six years at Ansonia. Peggy has also been selected to serve as president of the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce.

“This is a very good congregation,” the pastor said. “It is very community-minded.”

Thus far, there is no successor for the pastoral position at Ansonia.

“Paula Moody is chairperson working with the district superintendent and it’s just in the starting process,” Henderson reported.

The church has been the scene of many programs and activities over the years, including choir, Spring Fling, mother-daughter banquets, Bible studies, Women of Wellness program, Vacation Bible School, health/hygiene kits, Food Pantry, Christmas fruit baskets for shut-ins, Christmas gifts for families in need, Trash Bash, youth fellowship, garage sales, election dinners, Adopt a Highway program, Bell Ringing Christmas Fund drive, family movie nights, Kids Club, pancake and whole sausage breakfasts, Little Change House, Christmas card boxes, Community parade event participation, summer and fall picnics, volleyball, Sunday school, small groups, women’s and men’s groups, funeral meals, Sunday worship praise team, Wednesday Night Community Meals, scholarships for AUMC College students and camperships to attend church camp.

Several of these activities are still going strong.

“The LifeWise Program is utilizing our church which is held on Wednesdays for third- and fourth-graders,” Henderson said. “And, we will be offering Bible school the week of June 19-23 headed up by Stephanie Klingshirn.”

Some of the organizations which have used the church building for their activities have included: Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H clubs, Ansonia Alumni Association, Ansonia Fire Department Recognition Dinner, Ansonia School Pre-School, Revive Ohio, Aktion Club, LifeWise Academy, community blood drives and Life Line Health Screenings.

From 1845-50 Methodist preaching was done in the house of Mr. White near Dallas, then located in the Bellefontaine District. Circuit riders also preached from tree stumps, street corners, etc.

The Hillgrove Circuit, which embraced Dallas, was organized and Benjamin L. Rowland was pastor.

In 1872, the charge took the name of Dallas Circuit and the church was built and dedicated at the cost of $3200. It was a brick, 35×55-foot structure, and is now the sanctuary without the alcove, Sunday school room and basement. The building, it was noted, had a balcony, stove and no electricity.

Trustees at the time were Hezekiel W. Fry, Noah D. Poling, David Poling, Samuel Kershner, W. Hooven, James H. Roush, M. Glick, B.E. Weaver and Williams Woods.
The church bell was installed at a cost of $192.32 in 1877.

Throughout the years, many features of the church changed, thanks to numerous remodeling, furnishing and upgrades not only inside but outside as well.

In 1941 and 1942, the church was remodeled and the floor was raised 17 inches and a full basement was put under the sanctuary. A new coal furnace was installed as well as the addition of a kitchen and restrooms.

The Ohio Annual Conference was formed with new districts in 1928, and 10 years later, the merger of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church South and the Methodist Protestant Church to become the Methodist Church. The Ansonia church was affiliated with the Methodist Episcopal Church.

On April 23, 1968, the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church formally united to become the United Methodist Church.

Revival services were conducted by the Rev. James BonDurant, a conference evangelist, in November 1969; one week at Rossburg and one at Ansonia. He became pastor of the Ansonia church and a revival was held with him conducting the services in 1973 during the church building’s centennial.

In the summer of 1976, plans for building an addition on the church were started with Bob Lee, Marlin Thompson and Ted Strait serving on the building committee. Then, in October, the little house was torn down and a new addition consisted of one large classroom that was divided by folding doors, one smaller classroom, a pastor’s study, two restrooms, a ladies lounge and cloak rooms. Labor was donated.

A service of dedication and rededication for the church building was held Oct. 14, 1979, with the Rev. Elwood Rose, district superintendent, giving the morning message.

A public address system was installed in the church sanctuary in February 1980, and a note-burning service was held to commemorate the paying of the debt on the education addition on Dec. 14 that same year. The note of $15,000 was taken out in 1977 and the final payment was made in May 1980.

The church purchased the Senior Citizen Building to be used as a Community Center in 1992.

Homecoming and rally day for Sunday school and dedication of the new sanctuary was held on Oct. 30, 1994, and a Wednesday night time for Children “Pioneer Club” was started for children in the fall that year.

In 2000, the Jones property north of the church was purchased and both houses were used for the youth activities.

With enough property to consider a building addition, committees were formed to discuss options in 2001, and on June 8, 2003, a groundbreaking was held during the worship service to officially dedicate and recognize the upcoming building addition at the north end.

The administrative board was dissolved and the Vision Team was created, and on March 28, 2004, the building dedication and rededication service was held in the grand new Gathering Place, with 200 people in attendance.

“The Gathering Place Dedication and Commemorative Publication was Mamie’s last project,” said Henderson, who was referring to Mamie Warrick, the church historian for many years, and who died May 1, 2014. “She kept such impeccable records for our church and our community.”

A conference grant was received for Wednesday Night Community Meals in the fall of 2005, with attendance ranging from 85 to 300 people.

After completion there, the trustees purchased the lot and house on the north side of the Gathering Place. As a result, the house was razed and a parking lot was constructed from a monetary gift by Ron Hetzler and family.

As for the church parsonages, the first one was located west of the church, then 50 years later they sold that one, and purchased a new house on East Canal Street, which sold two years later.

When a devoted member of the church, Jacob Stoltz, passed away in 1934, his home was bequeathed to the church. It was sold in 1943 to apply to purchase the present parsonage on South Main Street.

In 2019, live services began on Facebook.

“We have online Sunday services at 10:39 a.m. Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnsoniaUMC,” Henderson said. “And, the community is always welcome to attend in person.”