Friday, April 23,1802, Don Manuel, a young Spaniard touring England, stopped at an inn in Devonshire on his way to Exeter Cathedral. There he observed "two busts in porcelain upon the chimney-piece, one of Bonaparte, the other of John Wesley . . . and between them a whole length figure of Shakespeare." Asking his English companion which was the most popular, he received this answer, "Perhaps the Corsican, just at present; but his is a transient popularity. As for Shakespeare, these people know nothing of him but his name. Wesley, on the contrary, is a saint with his followers and indeed with almost all the lower classes.

England at this time was in an uneasy peace between the American Revolution and the War of 1812, and the Napoleonic War.

John Wesley, whose life spanned the Eighteenth Century, was an Anglican priest, reared in the Epworth rectory, educated at Oxford, deeply influenced by Moravian missionaries, and heart warmed at Aldersgate. He felt the deplorable social conditions of the common people in England. An activist with compassion, he took the gospel directly to the hopeless poor, uneducated miners and factory workers, many of whom were small children as young as seven years.

In England there were actually only two classes: the very poor and the privileged wealthy tradesmen, industrialists, and royalty. Since even the poorest were taxed to support the state church, a non-conforming sect could make little progress.

However, with a free society, with separation of church and state in the United States, no privileged class such as royalty, and with the majority of citizens’ owners of their own farms and vocations, the fields were ripe for Methodism. Consequently, with the ordination of Francis Asbury, the first Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church in America, Methodism spread like wildfire to the ever extending, often rowdy frontiers, carried by the tireless circuit riders with their Bibles.

Methodism made its first appearance here in Richmond Township, Huron County, O1io as the Richmond Methodist Episcopal Society, possibly as earl y as 1820, as recorded by Rev. Thomas J. Gard.

Richmond Township is the farthest southwest corner of the Fire Lands of the Western Reserve. The marsh to the south was as impenetrable as the dense forest to the north of the New Haven Tiffin road which was "cut out" in 1831-32, by the state to expedite the emigration of settlers westward. Before this, it had taken a day to cross the township.

In the early 1840’s, the Richmond M. E. Society was taken into the circuit of the Ohio Conference. Rev. Samuel Allen, who had first come into their midst unexpectedly, now served them as their first regular minister, meetings being held in log houses, schools, barns, and even in the weeds.

The fellowship of believers had never had a church building of their own. Consequently, a lot was purchased in 1860, on the Tiffin Road.

In 1861, the Union Bethel Church was built in an attempt to serve the Dunkards , The Weinbrenar {Church of God), both German speaking, and the Methodists. However, this early attempt at ecumenism was unsatisfactory. The Dunkards united with their Brethren; the Methodist withdrew, some joining those already at Centerton. The church became the Union Bethel Church of God and still occasionally holds services.

In 1833, the New Haven M.E. Society was organized. For fifty six years, a part of the Plymouth Charge {Paris Circuit), the society in 1889, entered the Chicago Charge.

During the time when Milan was second only to Kiev, Russia, in the export of wheat, New Haven was a larger, thriving village. Wagoners stopped there to have their leather boots made.

Even before the Civil War, with the preference of railroads over canals, both Milan and New Haven's growth was stunted. Nevertheless, among the Methodists at New Haven, in February 1895, "a gracious revival gathered in as Probationers, 45, and by letter, 13, and a new start was taken. "

In 1840, the Havana M. E. Society was formed, being known as the North Norwich M.E. Society. The frame church stood on the knoll of the present North Norwich cemetery; the land was purchased from the Boughton family in 1847. However, this church was razed, and in 1881, the Society built "a neat little church costing $2100" at Havana.

After being a partner of the "little charge" with Centerton, Havana also became a part of the Chicago Charge, 1894-95.

In 1842, the Centerton M. E. Society was formed by Rev. Samuel Allen of the Ohio Conference. Meetings were held in dwellings, schoolhouses, and the local lodge hall. By 1851, the class numbered twenty.

In 1853, Rev. H. Duboise became pastor. Centerton then was in the Fairfield Circuit, Mansfield District, North Ohio Conference. This circuit included North Norwich, Centerton, North Fairfield, Peru, Fitchville, Olena, and the McKee School House at Steuben. The Centerton class had grown to thirty.

In 1863, the brick church at Centerton was dedicated. As the forest gave way to farms, this church, since known as our Mother Church, served a rural community and the village centrally located between Mansfield and Sandusky on the B. & 0. Railroad.

In 1885-86, a revival bore fruit under Rev. Keyes. Again, another in January 1895 brought in forty-six converts. After being a part of the Fairfield Charge for many years, it was made a part of the Republic Charge, and then Havana and Centerton became a "little charge."

Finally, in 1894-95, Centerton, Havana, New Haven, and Chicago became the Chicago of the North Ohio Conference under Thos. J. Gard as pastor with B. F. Rhoades, his assistant. Rural churches, which served the Lord faithfully and helped stabilize their community, have been disappearing from the American scene.

The M. E. Church at Centerton was built of brick made from local clay. Because they were not sealed properly, moisture entered through the bricks so that by 1944, the building had to be abandoned and razed. The members chose to unite with Grace Methodist and have provided yeast to leaven it. One founder of the Centerton Ladies Aid Society, Elizabeth Gage, who became Mrs. Glenn Miller, is still with us.

The chandelier of the Mother Church now brightens the Church of the Master at Steuben.

The first protestant church in Chicago was the First United Brethren Church, founded by Rev. W. Allen Keesy in 1876. This has now become the First United Methodist Church in Willard, Ohio.

Soon after, the Free Methodist Church became the second protestant church located on the northeast corner of Pearl and Main Streets.

With the dedication of the First M. E. Church at the northwest comer of Dale and Maple Streets in 1893, the Free Methodist congregation disbanded.

In 1887, the Methodist Episcopal Society of Chicago was formed by Rev. J.C. Collom, pastor of the Havana and Centerton Charge. During 1888, regular services were held every two weeks above the H. L. Bynn Furniture Store on Myrtle Avenue. Rev. S.A. Reeder along with his father, a retired minister of the Old North Ohio Conference living in Shelby, held evangelistic meetings in this long, narrow room with brick walls, "winning souls for Christ and helping to organize the church in this railroad town." He loved railroad men and had had experience with them in Crestline."

The Society next met for several months in the free Methodist Church. Then they rented the new Presbyterian Church for over a year and a half. During this period the Methodist and Presbyterian Sunday Schools were united.

In 1891, two lots were purchased, and on September 8, 1892, the cornerstone was laid. On June 11,1893, the church was dedicated. On October 10,1897, Rev. E.S. Tompkins and family moved into the new brick parsonage, "a very fine house. "

The establishment of Methodism in this vicinity up to this time was no mean accomplishment, as a brief account of the setting will show. A contrast in U.S. Census figures reveals:


Township and Census



New Haven










Chicago, Ohio was located at the point where three divisions of the B. & 0. Railroad terminated, the Chicago, Illinois extension being completed in December 1874. By 1876, a permanent brick depot had been erected as well as the "shops." Then disaster struck December 8, 1877, as half the town and almost all the places of business were destroyed by fire. To compound the misery, an epidemic of smallpox struck the townsfolk during 1881-82. Nevertheless, the town was incorporated in the fall of 1882.

Concurrent with the formation of the M. E. Society, Chicagoans in April 1887, voted to build a brick "two-story school house, which opened in September 1888, followed by the graduation of the first high school class in 1890.

One newspaper, the Times, independent, had already been established in 1883, recording local events, illustrated by photographs.

In 1880, the population of Chicago was 662. Following the completion of the Akron Division in 1900, the population increased rapidly to 4,000 then to 5,000, where it remained until after World War II.

"I was glad when they said unto me, 'Let us go into the house of the Lord.’" Psalms 122:1.

In the First M.E. Church, a brick structure, the congregation faced west toward a large multicolored window. Since Vespers were held after Epworth League, and there were Thursday evening Prayer Meetings, the setting sun bathed the Sanctuary in hues like a benediction.

The lone pulpit was central in line with the main aisle, with cathedral chairs on either side.

One entered the church by the eastern door into a vestibule. Here were assembled photographs of the Mothers’ Jewels. Just sixty years ago, Mrs. Hazel Jenkins was in charge of these.

Directly west of the vestibule was the church parlor, a large room facing the pews, but separated by glass doors. The Ladies Aid Society met and worked here, as did the Home and Foreign Missionary Societies. Many a carpet rug was sewed together here, quilts made, and barrels of fruit and clothing packed for missionaries.

After the present church was built, the bell, which had called the faithful to worship so many years, was given to the Zion Church on the East Side. Still another generation recognized its tone, recalling the joyous fellowship of other years.

As early as 1911, Rev. L. Robeson Akers wrote this in his Christmas week bulletin: "An Absolute Necessity is more church accommodations. Our organized classes, societies, leagues, etc., have no adequate place of meeting. Social life in the church is necessary as well as Spiritual Life. Shall we be content to fit up a basement room, or shall we rebuild? Let this subject be given careful and prayerful deliberation that we may decide wisely and for His glory by the first of the year."

Only a basement was dug, the entrance to it being by a stairway at the west end of the church parlor. A furnace was then installed. This was done between 1912 and 1914.

A perusal of the Christmas week bulletin shows that "Morning Service" began at 10:00 followed by the Sabbath School at 11:15 A.M.

In the morning service the Apostle's Creed was followed by the minister's prayer, "concluding with the Lord's Prayer chanted. (All reverently kneeling). "

The custom of kneeling was also observed during Thursday evening prayer meetings; however, those who gave personal witness always did so while standing.

When the "Little Brick Church Around the Corner" of Maple and Dale, so designated by Pastor Akers, was razed in 1925, it was discovered that the timbers under the roof had been dangerously scorched around the chimney. Water had also been a problem in the basement causing the women to work in their rubbers and galoshes.

Mrs. Anna Onstott, wife of Rev. Daniel Onstott, our pastor from 1919-20, gave the first contribution toward the new church. A woman of remarkable vision, in 1908, during her husbands' pastorate in Maine, she had gone to Etruria, England to have a one-quart replica made of the one-gallon teapot made by Josiah Wedgewood in 1761, for John Wesley. This "Blessings Teapot" was used by Wesley at the devotional breakfasts he had each day with his fellow ministers.

She felt that each Methodist family should have one. Eventually an entire tea set of 23 pieces became available. The story of the design in blue and white was often told at the Northeast Ohio Conference at Lakeside, Ohio. Thus, Mrs. Onstott became known as "Teapot Annie."

In 1923, Rev. Harris Gillespie was sent to the Willard charge specifically to build a new church. On October 12,1925, the "Homelike Church" was razed, and the cornerstone for the new church was laid on December 20, 1925.

Being without a building, the congregation met in various places, among them the Mystic Theatre.

The new church, a brick structure, was built under the direction of Herman W. Maurer, Architect and Methodist layman of Cleveland, Ohio. The architect’s plans indicate the cost of the church to be $65,000. A campaign for that amount was held May 10-17, 1925. A complete list of all working committees was given. Above the sketch of the proposed church is this Bible verse: "The God of Heaven, He will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build." Nehemiah 2:20.

During June 20-27, 1926, Dedicatory Services were held. The program of these services lists the Trustees and Stewards, also photographs of Bishop Theodore S. Henderson; Rev. John Taylor Alton, District Superintendent; Rev. Harris Gillespie, Pastor; and Dr. J.J. Wyeth, our pastor from 1907-11. Some historical facts were included:

In 1892, there were 26 members; in 1925 there were 370.

The Willard Times, in its issues of June 24 and July 1, 1926, contains several illuminating articles of the dedicatory week and past history.

At this time Willard, Ohio was a very important Baltimore & Ohio Railroad terminal between Chicago, Pittsburgh and Washington, D. C. Daniel Willard, President of the B. & 0., after whom the town had been renamed, sent eighteen members of the famous B. & 0. Glee Club of Baltimore to present a concert in the new church, Friday evening, June 25. Their last number, "Casey Jones" was a pleasing tribute. Editor Van Sandt of the B. & 0. Magazine "spoke of the naturally close relation between the City of Willard and the B. & 0. and said that the club enjoyed coming here and appreciated the extraordinary cordial reception given them."

Who could foretell that the new church with its minimal furnishings would be caught in an inflationary spiral costing $84,000 instead of the initial $68,000?

Who could foresee the Depression, or even understand that it was worldwide?

Who born since then can fully realize how few could find any kind of work, or how many could not raise the price of a loaf of bread? That a railroader could hold his job only if he had many years of seniority?

Eventually, without warning, all the banks would close in the bank moratorium. The Women's Home Missionary Society had to resort to U. S. Postal orders to send their money to the district office.

By 1935, a real crisis had developed with a debt of $43,000 that the congregation seemed unable to reduce further in spite of Herculean efforts. Thirty-four members had signed their names offering their homes as security to the mortgage. The Huron County Bank at Norwalk held them to account with a court judgment against the church, parsonage, and the properties of all the signers.

"It was a dark hour and the church was in deep distress. "

In September 1935, Rev. Grant S. Perkins, newly appointed pastor, "immediately undertook a most heroic campaign to save the church." Then suddenly, on Sunday morning, February 16, 1936, just before services, Rev. Perkins died. The congregation was shocked and grieved, almost paralyzed in despair. However, Bishop H. Lester Smith, in a meeting with eight northern Ohio district superintendents on February 25 appointed as successor, Rev. Charles W. Kennedy.

A former missionary to Japan, he was well qualified, having served as financial agent of Baldwin Wallace College at Berea, Ohio for ten years. Through his guidance, the notes held against the church by the Huron County Bank were paid in full, thus releasing the court judgment. The remaining debt was refinanced through new mortgages at the new Willard United Bank.

On March 17,1936, the First M.E. Church was incorporated as Grace Methodist Episcopal Church, Willard, Ohio - this in response to the assurance that "our beloved church" had been saved by the Grace of God.

On June 21, 1936, anniversary services were held with a dinner in Wesley Hall. Bishop H. Lester Smith of Cincinnati gave the sermon. District Superintendent Dr. Vernon Wade Wagar also spoke briefly. Rev. Perkins' daughters, Gwendolyn and Miriam, joined Emogene Ramsdell in Dvokak's "Won't You Set Us Free" and Rev. Gillespie's daughter, Margaret, sang a solo. It was "a day of rejoicing "and sharing, a homecoming celebration of former pastors and members.

In Grace Church, the congregation faces the chancel toward the east. On either side and at the rear, the windows have a small Christian symbol placed centrally. Consequently, the Sanctuary is replete with natural light. Each of these windows was dedicated to relatives or friends, all loyal Methodists throughout the years.

Mr. and Mrs. Francis A. Richards gave the large stained glass window in the chancel. The artist, Hoffman, portrayed The Annunciation, "In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, 'Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!' But she was greatly troubled at the saying and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And, behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.'" Mark 1:26-32.

This famous painter of church windows from Cincinnati, Joseph Ashebrenner, copied with one exception Hoffman's painting: The face of the virgin is that of Rosalie Richards, who died on her 2Oth birthday. Soon after, Francis A. Richards, Jr., died at age 14, and the window was dedicated to their memory.

During morning services, the sun often shines through to the Glory of God.

From its dedication in 1893 until it was razed in 1925, the Methodist Church, given the name of "The Little Brick Church Around the Corner" by Dr. Akers, was served by these pastors:

J.C. Callom


G.A. Reeder


A.A. Bull


O. Pierce


J. McBannes


Thos. J. Gard


W. B. Smith

Asst. 1894

B. F. Rhoades

Asst. 1895

O. L. Edwards

Asst. 1895

E.S. Tompkins


S. L. Stewart


O.J. Coby


J.J. Wyeth


L. R. Akers


A.R. Connell


W. S. Nicholson


Daniel Onstott


F.S. Fancher


Harris Gillespie


Grace Methodist Church dedicated in 1926 has been served by these pastors:

George Gibson


A. R. Brown


Grant Perkins


C. W. Kennedy


A. R. Chalfant


A. R. Baker


Harold Diehl


John F. Herion


A. J . Manton


Arthur R. Kirk




Robert D. Snyder


Richard E. Hawkins



Charles Wesley, younger brother of John, whose life also spanned the 18th century, provided a ministry through song, writing over five thousand hymns; hence, from the very beginning of Methodism, music became an integral part of Methodism.

Grace Church has been blessed with much talent throughout the years. We have had Cherub Groups, Junior Choirs, Senior Choirs, soloists, choir directors, organists, pianists, and who can forget the Sunday School Class Orchestra of the early twenties with Rollin K. Williams’ French horn?

Many from our church have gone on to further their education in the field of music and come back to give their services to the church and community. Our present choir director, Roberta Kauffman Worcester, received her Masters in the field of music at Indiana University and is now serving in the church music department.

Wayne Stahl is now serving in the capacity of church organist. His services started as accompanist, on piano, with Ruth Mehl as organist. On Easter Sunday, 1950, Miss MehI was ill and Wayne was willing to take over as Organist, a post he has filled excellently for twenty-two years.

Many programs of deep spiritual quality have been in abundance. We recall with pleasure the Out-Door Christmas Pageant, "Come to the Manger," a living Christmas drama presented in 1951, ’52, ‘53, under the direction of Dr. John Herion, Pastor. The cast and committees consisted of sixty-four laymen and women of the church. Performances were held three evenings during Christmas week. Wooden structures were raised, live animals brought in and enclosures built for them everything to lend authenticity. This Out-Door Pageant received much publicity in the area papers and drew tremendous audiences for each performance, enriching the Christmas Spirit for all who came.

Individuals and organizations have contributed countless gift and memorials to the music program of our church. Hymnals, equipment, robes, gifts of money and music compositions have been offered. Mrs. H.F. Briggs, a music teacher, and Dr. and Mrs. A.D. Robertson were the first contributors to the Organ Fund. The Ladies Aid Society added to this fund. November 24, 1946, in a Thanksgiving Memorial Service, the offering was reported as several hundred dollars more than necessary to purchase and install a Hammond Organ and Chimes. At this Thanksgiving Service, our church’s Service Flag, bearing the names of 106 service men and women affiliated with Grace Church was removed. The organ and chimes were dedicated to God and to these men and women who served our country so faithfully during these perilous years of World War II.

The Rev. A. J. Manton and h is wife contributed to our music program. Both highly talented musicians, he directed the Chancel Choir and Mrs. Manton directed the Junior Choir.

Words cannot express our appreciation to Miss Esther Lanius for the gift of an Americana" Carillon, an exclusive development of Schulermich Carillon, Inc., installed and dedicated on December 17,1961, in loving memory of Mr. & Mrs. Rollin K. Williams for their service to our church and community.

The Carillon is played fro m a keyboard next to the console of the organ. The sound may be switched to be heard inside the church alone, from the tower alone, or both can be heard together. Automatic playing of the Carillon is provided by the "Auto-Bell" roller player. These rolls may be purchased by anyone wishing to choose their favorite hymns. The rolls now being used have been purchased by the church members, either as a gift or memorial to a loved one. The Carillon is in automatic operation every day at 9:00 a.m., 12:00 noon and 5:00 p.m., pouring forth songs of praise, making melody to the Lord.

Roderick Evans, an Ohio free-lance composer, a native of Willard and former member of our church and choir, added to our music library when he wrote and dedicated one of his compositions to the church musicians of Grace Methodist Church. "Hasten O Hasten", composed in 1967, was not a solicited work and the dedication was done as a surprise to the choir. The composition honors the past services rendered the church by Mr. Evans’ grandmother, Mrs. M.M. Milligan, and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Evans.

In 1964 the first organ was replaced with a new R.T. @Model Hammond Organ, a gift from Mr. and Mrs.. Wayne Stahl. Wayne’s interpretation of great music is an inspiration to every worshipper on Sunday morning.

In 1892-93, the Ladies’ Aid Society was formed at Chicago. These women were adept at solving problems of practical need. In times of financial crisis, they were ingenious in their means of "saving the day."

The Methodist Episcopal Mite Society met Apri11, 1891, and by June 5,1906, there were five divisions. This may have become the Woman's Home Missionary Society although the 1915-16 printed program states "Organized 1903." From 1920 to 1940 their concerns were primarily: The Deaconess Home and West Side Community House in Cleveland, Ohio; also Spanish Americans and Negroes. Theirs was a personal outreach in the name of Jesus.

On January 22,1907, the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society was formed and served Japan, Korea, China and India until the merging of W.S.C.S.

Recently records of the Home Guards have come to light. "On Saturday afternoon, April 19, 1913, eight girls met at the home of Helen Williams to organize a Home Guard Society to be under the direction of the Woman’s Home Missionary Society of the M. E. Church." Miss Edith Brown was the first leader to be followed by Mrs. E. L. Wolff and Mrs. Burt Johns. The membership increased to twenty, and from 1913-1920 around fifty girls of the intermediate age group had met regularly, even in the summer months.

Their activities mirrored the parent organization in studying missions and raising funds. On November 29,1913, Rosalie Richards moved that they raise fifteen dollars "to educate some girls." By November 13,1914, the Home Guards had raised enough money to help educate Tai Chong, a Chinese girl at Ellen Stark Ford School in San Francisco. They continued to support her while helping others.

In 1915 they made a special study of American Indians. At a memorable meeting Mary Wallace Boyle, dressed as an Indian Maiden, recited the Lord’s Prayer in an Indian language.

As girls became old enough to belong to the Queen Esther group, they withdrew. This occurred twice; still during the last year, September 29, 1919 to April 6, 1920, nineteen girls were enrolled. Piano and violin solos, singing and recitations provided varied programs, holding the interest of the girls. Their leader often took them to Martin's Ice Cream Parlor.

Out of this group emerged a missionary, Goldie Marie Nicholson. She served in Japan, leaving only when the Japanese military began encroaching on China. Returning to her homeland, speaking Japanese, she was prepared to serve the Nisei in their enforced confinement in the West during World War II and afterward in Cleveland, Ohio.

Although she worked within the Baptist Church to which Engineer Nicholson and his family belonged while living in Garrett, Indiana, nevertheless, the entire family were faithful workers within our Methodist Church while living in Chicago, Ohio.

Official records of the Queen Esther Society are missing. However, this much is known: Organized by 1912, Mrs. R.K. Williams was the leader with a membership of at least twenty. On June 12, 1924, they presented a program for the Woman’s Missionary Society.

In April, 1937, the Rev. C.W. Kennedy's wife organized a Wesleyan Guild. The membership ranged from twelve to over thirty. It was designed as a missionary group for single working girls but later included young married women. In 1948 the membership was again twelve. Eventually the group was disbanded, members joining one of the circles of the Woman's Society of Christian Service.

In September of 1940, the new organization, Woman's Society for Christian Service, merged with Ladies' Aid and the Home and Foreign Missionary Societies.

The women’s work of the church exists because of the many needs in our world, our Church and community. Here as elsewhere it is felt the women have been the backbone of the church.

Annual bazaars, the serving of weekly Rotary Club dinners for several years, mite boxes and blessing banks have been only a few of the ways used to raise money to help beautify our Church and maintain the Mission work in our Conference. Through latter years Conference Apportionments have been met in full.

The General Conference in session during April 1972, adopted the constitution for "United Methodist Women. "Once again the Ladies Aid Society, the beginning women's organization in existence with in our Methodist Church since 1892 has a new name!

The men of the Church have been organized from time to time in the Men's Brotherhood; Men's Prayer Group, meeting on Monday at 6:00 a.m. for breakfast, prayer and discussion. The men have been faithful in carrying out the business of the Church as trustees, on building committees, Administrative Board members, and doing many voluntary jobs of repair. The ushers have been faithful and dependable - always there to serve the needs of the Church.

Our World Service Commission and W.S.C.S. have not only met their annual apportionments, but have gone beyond and chosen many direct "specials". The Advance Special captured the imagination and commitment of the members, and the congregation has expanded its benevolent giving to include support of additional ministries. The headlines in the Willard Times in 1953 announced that "Willard Pastor, Wife, Enroute to Europe as Gift of Parish," and so it was. Every member worked hard to send the Rev. John F. Herion and Mrs. Herion to Germany to see his mother who was seriously ill due to the persecution and suffering she had endured during the war. With funds thus provided by members of Grace Methodist Church, the Rev. and Mrs. Herion started their journey back to his homeland in Bischoffingen, Baden.

Leaving Willard June 23, 1953, the trip was for about a month visiting his mother, his family and friends. Of the trip the Herions said, "It is one of the finest things that has ever happened to us. "

In 1949 Dr. J.T. Seamands, District Superintendent and Advance Special Director for the Belgium District in India, told of the great need for developing and supporting native Indian pastors. As a result, four native pastors have been supported continuously by our sharing of$600.00 annually. At first this was met by personal contributions and Church from two Sunday School Classes until it was incorporated into the unified church budget in 1959. The names and pictures of our four pastors were presented to the Church by Dr. E.R. Isaiah, native District Superintendent of the Belgium District and overseer of their ministry, when he visited the United States. In 1966, money was raised by individuals and groups to purchase four bicycles for our Indian pastors, a "love offering" Christmas Special to aid them in their ministry.

Dr. Ford Philpot, a leading Methodist Evangelist, in June, 1968, scheduled a four and a half week period Crusade to the Congo, including a tour of the Holy Land, Athens and Rome. Grace Church voted to send Pastor Snyder and his wife on this mission. By private subscription Grace Church shared in this ministerial experience.

In August of 1968, Robert Wantwadi, a Congolese boy who was one of the Crusade guides in Africa, came to be a member of the Snyder family at the parsonage. He attended Willard High School as a senior, with aspirations to attend college in the United States and return to his native Congo as a Christian engineer.

In 1969, the Church Administrative Board established an International Scholarship Fund for foreign students locally sponsored - the money received by the Church designated for this fund would be distributed upon the recommendation of the Commission on Missions. Robert Wantwadi was the recipient of this fund - a "love offering" to help further his education while living in our community, a member of our Church and the parsonage family. Today finds Robert furthering his education at Taylor University expecting to graduate in 1973 in Liberal Arts. He expects to return to the Congo and work in a Christian-oriented field of service

Grace Church has also been mindful of its own community needs. The Community Christian Service Project was started in 1959, under the guidance of our pastor, the Reverend Arthur Kirk. This service offered a way of securing needs and funds to help needy persons. The program has continued and is now under the guidance of the Willard Ministerial Association.

John Wesley stressed the reading of the Bible and study of it through leaders of classes. The Sunday school with its capable superintendents and dedicated teachers has been a continuous influence, especially upon the children. Outstanding Sunday School classes have been: the Hunter Class, the Kramer Class, the Gleaners, Wesley Brotherhood, the High School Group, and more recently the Disciples, Wesley Class and the Crusaders.

Today's Christian Education program includes not only the Sunday school but also all departments of the Church for all focus on education in Christian living. Babies through to the oldest members are included in our program.

Junior League records, available in 1947 but now lost, provided membership lists and activities from January 1912, through April 1916, under the devoted leadership of Mrs. M.M. Milligan, a widow. Boys and girls of intermediate age met each Sunday afternoon at 2:30 in the Sunday School Room. Every child carried home a small picture card with a Bible verse and the inspiration of a dedicated teacher.

In addition to our Sunday school and Youth Fellowships, another highly successful program in the field of Christian Education is the Daily Vacation Bible School. For quite some years the Presbyterians, First Methodists and Grace Methodists have joined to make this experience a vital force in the development of our children and youth.

A Laboratory Workshop for teacher training was conducted in 1970 by a highly trained staff from our Conference Educational Department.

Our members feel that our children and youth will be the Church of tomorrow and so will carry on the torch.

Our Church is very proud and very fortunate to have had three of its members go into the ministry. Paul Arthur Felver, who grew up in Grace Church, had his license to preach renewed on ~y 9' 1966, by Quarterly Conference action. On June 28, 1970, he was ordained at Annual Conference by Bishop Kearns. Paul, with his wife and two children, is now serving in the Pacific Northwest Conference at Lind, Washington.

The Rev. Robert Collier spent his boyhood in Willard and attended "The Little Brick Church." He has been ordained eleven years and is now living in Farmer, Ohio, and serving a three charge Methodist Circuit.

In February 1971, Grace Church recommended one of its members, Warren K. Fish, to the Board of Ministry for ordination and he was ordained a deacon at Annual Conference, June 1972.

The Rev. and Mrs. Harold Diehl, with their youthful energy, launched the last financial campaign to clear the debt. By December 1945, Grace Methodist Church was debt-free.

Over the years, the elements had taken their toll and the church and parsonage were in need of repair and renovation.

In 1945, a Repair Program was initiated and has continued under the direction and guidance of six energetic pastors and the willing hearts and hands of a dedicated congregation.

Specific goals had to be set and completed as finances permitted, resulting in Grace Church as you see it upon the occasion of the 85th Anniversary Celebration.

Some of the physical improvements during the latter years include: rejuvenation of masonry on both properties; roofs repaired; insulation of entire church loft; redecoration of Sanctuary and choir rooms; pews refinished; the old coal burning furnace converted to gas; major improvements to kitchen; rebuilt and redecorated ladies rest rooms; Sunday School rooms painted by dedicated lay men; rest rooms installed in two Sunday School rooms; an amplifying system installed in the Sanctuary; mimeograph and folding machine for the office and an enlarged parking space on the north side of the church for a growing congregation.

The work of remodeling continued. In 1961 a cement floor was poured in Wesley Hall. In 1962 Wesley Hall was covered with tile and cupboards were built along the west wall. New wiring and electric outlets were installed. Stage curtains, new tables and new chairs were purchased. In 1963, nine Sanctuary windows were repaired and silicone treated. Gutters and down spouting were repaired.

With the distinct purpose of enlarging parking facilities and for possible future building purposes, the Board of Trustees in 1964 purchased the Scott and Garrett properties north of the church. Later these buildings were razed and an ample parking lot accommodates our congregation. New sidewalks were installed around the parking lot.

On June 28, 1965, the Building Committee, previously established in 1958, brought before the congregation the recommendation of the committee to purchase the home of Dale and Joyce Steams for use as a new parsonage. Following the Discipline Procedure, a Quarterly Conference and general congregational vote approved the $25,500.00 purchase of this new parsonage. On August 16, 1965, our pastor, Robert D. Snyder, and family moved into our parsonage located at 608 Euclid.

Property stewardship during the last half of the conference year 1965 through June, 1970, included the following projects: redecoration of the Sanctuary and ladies rest room off Wesley Hall; purchase of new chairs to accommodate Sunday School rooms and choir loft; painting the exterior of new parsonage; sealing and caulking nine Art-glass windows of the Sanctuary; making alterations in the old parsonage for suitable classrooms. Carpet was purchased for the Sanctuary and the old carpet was re-laid in the balcony and choir loft. Draperies and traverse rods were purchased for the Hunter Room, Wesley Hall and for the rear windows of the Sanctuary. A concrete driveway was poured at the parsonage. The entire church roof was checked and repaired and the belfry was repaired.

With all these property improvements made within the years 1965-67, it was with great joy that the Finance Committee submitted the report in December 1967, "Parsonage mortgage paid in full. "

Physical improvements continued. Storm windows were placed in nine Sanctuary windows. Five classrooms were carpeted and vinyl floor covering was laid on hall stairs and landing. Aluminum siding and storm windows were installed at the new parsonage. New tables and easels were purchased for Sunday school rooms. New fluorescent lighting was installed in classrooms and the downstairs stairway. In July 1971, a new furnace was installed. Air conditioning units were purchased for the pastor's study and secretary's office.

As you can see, the task of repair and rebuilding has been a continuous one. Due to the fact that in 1959 the Every Member Visitation campaigns were instituted, the Finance Programs and Unified Budget System now used by Grace Church were effectively established.

In June 1970, the Rev. Richard E. Hawkins appointed to serve Grace Church, came to us from Seven Hills near Cleveland. His family consists of wife, Thelma, and two children, a son Rick, presently enrolled at Ohio Wesleyan as a Junior Pre-Medical student; and a daughter, Robin, a sophomore, enrolled at Otterbein College, majoring in Home Economics.

In January, 1971, The Rev. and Mrs. Hawkins were privileged to serve as hosts to a group from the East Ohio Conference on a tour of the Holy Land and Greece.

Speaking of their trip, the Hawkins' have this to say: "This trip brought depth, breadth and strength. While there, we were privileged to be a part of a baptismal service in the Jordan. We also, on the same day, boated on the Sea of Galilee. It simply does something unexplainable to participate in such an experience and this gives strength. Depth comes in the reading of God's Word knowing that one has walked where Jesus walked. Breadth comes as one can visualize Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Jerusalem and put them not only in Biblical perspective, but also, in the realm of experience in today's world. (Such as the Arab-Israeli Conflict.) All in all, I would wish such an experience for every Christian."

In the fall of 1971, there was initiated a project called "Operation Knock." It involved every member of the Congregation when people were busy calling upon the inactives. It had nothing to do with finances, but aimed at lifting the level of our Congregational Commitment. Many hours were spent in planning by the original committee as well as in going out.

When it was realized that 1972 would be the 85th year of serving for this congregation, it was thought wise to involve the total membership in a larger enterprise. And so it was that an Anniversary Committee was authorized at our Church Conference in late 1971. In initial planning this committee made three decisions - Every member would be placed on a committee, all service and gifts would remain entirely voluntary, and all projects would be chosen by congregational vote. The challenge of the Celebration was for personal renewal and commitment, of deeper congregational and personal involvement in the outreach of our Church, of a period of thanksgiving for God's grace to this Church, and of a going forward with a firm conviction to carry out the promises set forth at the dedication of this building in 1926 . . . Dedicated "For the Glory of God, The Training of Youth, The Serving of Humanity, and The Welfare of our Community." Specific aims were drawn up for attendance, fellowship, and beautification of the Church. The Congregation voted to purchase new pews and to convert the Hunter Room into an informal chapel interior. The new pews were placed on October 5th. The conversion of the Hunter Room will be accomplished in the near future. Through the Trustees, a canopy was installed at the north entrance and the steps enlarged. A repository will be placed as a memorial to Allison LePontois by his family and a new Chapel piano given as a memorial to Mr. Eddie Myers, Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Trerise by Mrs. Marjorie Myers Blum, Charles Myers, and Rev. Kenneth Stover.

The John Wesley Experiment launched for September proved of great spiritual growth, personal commitment, concern and involvement for eleven "Brave Christians."

Many special features were put into the program from May leading up to and through the Anniversary Month of October . . . The WSCS Mother-Daughter Party, Father - Son Dinner, Senior Recognition, Visitation program, Special Holy Communion, Billy Graham Crusade, "Sharing" Sunday, Homecoming, Church School Survey and Round Up, Church Picnic, A Visit from "John Wesley," Vesper Service, World Wide Communion, International Fellowship Sunday Services dedicated to World Order, Laymen, Youth and Reformation, A Congregational Anniversary Banquet, and Bishop Kearns' Dedication of Anniversary Gifts.

The success of the 85th Anniversary rests with the Will of God and the decisions of the individual members of Grace Church. Time alone will testify.

Transcribed by Rebecca Williams

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