MONTPELIER: June 27, 2014: It is a special year for the Village of Montpelier and St. Paul’s United Methodist Church as the longtime Montpelier Landmark celebrates its 175th year anniversary. St. Paul’s Mission Statement is “To Welcome, Nurture, Equip, and Send Disciples For Jesus Christ,” and the church has held that mission since its inception. Coordinating this year’s celebrations and scheduled events are the members of the church’s 2014 175th Anniversary Committee Cindy King, Kelly Michael, Opal Deck and Armeda Sawmiller along with Pastor Richard Blank. The roots of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church predate the Village of Montpelier, and the 175th year celebrations will recognize the historical role the church has played in the community.
For local history enthusiasts, the history of the church and its ties to the beginning roots of the Village of Montpelier holds fascinating details to the growth of Montpelier, and the church has detailed its history in tremendous detail. The following historical timeline was assembled by the 175th Anniversary Committee and provided to The Village Reporter:
“The roots of and St. Paul’s United Methodist Church began when people started meeting in August 1839 in the log home of William Hoskinson, which was located at what is now the corner of County Road 13 and State Route 107. This was six years before the plat for Montpelier was laid out. The area was a swampy wilderness with no roads and early settlers had to be a special breed to endure the unpredictable wilderness. Montpelier was at first an appointment on the Bryan Circuit, which included all Williams and part of Defiance Counties. Later Pioneer became head of the circuit and in 1879, Montpelier became a station, with Eagle Creek attached.
Circuit rides came to the area every two weeks to preach the gospel at the Hoskinson home. Two families, William Hoskinson, his wife Ruth and daughter Permilia along with Henry Ferguson, his wife (name unknown) and two daughters Mary and Jane were the charter members of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Montpelier, Ohio. Circuit riders continued preaching in the Hoskinson home until 1847, when they moved to an old unoccupied house on the farm of Mr. Dunlap. By 1850, the growth of the church caused them to move into town, meeting in the old schoolhouse and then at the United Brethren Church, which was built in 1855. By 1868, church members were feeling the need to build a church of their own and plans were started.
Land was purchased by Adam Bechtol for a church site now known as the corner of Monroe and Ohio Streets. Timber was prepared during the winter of 1868-69; the building was completed and dedicated the following winter of 1869 at the cost of $2,000.00 The church was also used as a meeting place for lectures, moral entertainment and political meetings. James A. Garfield (20th President of the United States) delivered a political address in 1877 from this church building. The first parsonage was build next door in 1873-74. (NOTE: St. Paul’s Anniversary Committee is seeking photos of the original church, and anyone who may be in possession of early photos may contact the church so that copies may be attained for their historical records.)
In 1890, the church forefathers decided it was time to build a new church to be located at the corner of Broad and Wayne Street. This site was chosen to be situated according to the direction of the communities growth and the establishment of the Wabash Railroad. The new church was made of brick and had an appearance of the Maltese Cross, having projections on each side of the main auditorium, which would seat 620 worshipers. The stained glass windows are a beautiful asset to the sanctuary; Gothic in style. Funding for these stained glass windows came from memorial gifts from individuals and families. The celebrated Bell Foundry of McShane & Company was where St. Paul’s purchased the rich in tone bell, weighing in at 1,052 pounds and made from the best bell metal. (The Bell is still in use today.)
The Methodist Episcopal Church was dedicated on May 8, 1892 with General William Harvey Gibson, a Methodist preacher and great orator of this time, providing sermons at both the morning and evening services. A parsonage was built at 410 Broad Street next to the church in 1892-93. Remodeling of the church was undertaken in 1924, with extensive improvements made to the building by adding a kitchen, dining room and classrooms in the basement, along with a heating system. During this period, the church’s pipe organ was purchased from the Page Organ Company in Lima, Ohio; the amount was $3,500.00 (This organ is still in use today). During the year 1954, the old frame Lutheran Church building (built 1880) was purchased and moved to the east part of the main church building, to add a new education unit. A tower and connecting passage was erected and a basement placed under the educational addition. In the new basement, a dining hall now known as Fellowship Hall was added along with a remodeled kitchen. In 1965, a house at 313 Elm Street was purchased as a parsonage. The old parsonage at 410 Broad Street was made into a church office and classrooms for Sunday School. On April 23, 1968, the St. Paul’s United Methodist Church was created from the Evangelical United Brethren Church and the Methodist Church. A lot was purchased in 1972 at 1310 Cherry Street and a new parsonage was built and still being used at present.”
St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, as they celebrate their 175th anniversary, continues to serve the residents of Montpelier and its congregation in a number of ways. The church is a “missions oriented” church, with the United Methodist’s Women’s Group and Men’s Group performing outreach lending a helping hand to those in need (These organizations have existed for over 145 years). The church also runs the “See & Do Outreach Point, located at the foot of Broad Street, where food items and clothing are distributed to those in need. The Outreach Point is a free will donation distribution center. The church has also been a significant contributor to the Village and supported several community events. St. Paul’s recently made a donation to Montpelier’s inaugural Balloon Festival in the amount of $2,500.00 and will participate in Montpelier’s upcoming “Bean Days Celebrations,” which will take place on July 18 & 19. Additionally, members of the congregation will be serving in the traditional food entrées at the festival along with holding a Sunday garden Walk.
A number of events are scheduled through 2014 and are open to all community members and anyone who would like to attend. During August, the church will hold a Tea Fellowship on August 9 in the Fellowship Hall at 3:30; on August 17 at the 10:30 services, Bob Carpenter, along with his wife Ann will make a special presentation to the congregation in honor of the 175th anniversary. On September 21, the church will hold a special ceremony honoring members of the congregation who have been in the church for 50 years or more. On October 12, a Heritage Harvest Meal will take place. The Heritage Harvest Meal is a long running tradition that gives thanks for the autumn harvest and the rich bounty and blessings brought in by our local farmers each year. On November 2, the church will hold an Open Door Celebration honoring John Wesley (1703 – 1791), Methodism’s Founder.
St. Paul’s United Methodist Church is located at 402 Broad Street in Montpelier, and may be reached at 419-485-3519 or by e mail at firstname.lastname@example.org