This past week Zion Lutheran Church in Chattanooga, Ohio, the church we attend, along with the Chattanooga United Methodist Church hosted their annual Vacation Bible School. The two churches have combined to host very successful and popular Bible School programs for as long as I can remember. They take turns hosting Bible School every other year and this year it was held at the Methodist church. Volunteers from both churches participate.
Our 3 1/2 year-old granddaughter spent the week with us and I took her to Bible School. As you might imagine, it was a very busy week for us since we aren’t used to having an active little one in the house.
I can now say that as of this year three generations of our family have attended Bible School at Zion Chatt. I attended back in the 1950s, when it was put on by Zion only. Our son attended in the 1980s and now our granddaughter attended this year.
This year’s Bible School theme was Maker Fun Factory and those in charge should be commended and thanked for putting together yet another very successful Bible School. Days were packed with Bible stories, upbeat songs, prayer, crafts, fun activities, snacks, and more.
A big thank you to the Chatt Methodist Church for opening their doors and hosting Bible School this year.
The Chattanooga United Methodist Church was formed in 1910. A few years ago I looked at the WPA [Works Progress Administration] records for Mercer County churches, housed at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont, Ohio. These records were created during the Great Depression and they contain some interesting information.
The old WPA file gives a little history of the Chattanooga United Methodist church:
Reverend John Albright, an ordained Methodist minister, moved into the vicinity of Chattanooga and began preaching the Gospel as previously interpreted by John Wesley. A sufficient number embraced the doctrine, making it possible to formally organize a society in 1911. Although the society was nurtured by Rev. John Albright he was not officially appointed the first resident pastor until in 1919. He continued to minister to the people until sometime in 1921.
Rev. Albright was able to secure the use of a vacant community hall for church services. Later the society collected sufficient funds, purchased the building, and converted it into a church.
It is a frame building in the Old English-type of architecture and the high tower distinctly identifies it as a church. All the windows were of clear glass and the exterior was painted white. This energetic society organized the church and purchased, rebuilt and dedicated the hall all during the year 1911.
The WPA information indicates that the Chatt Methodist birth, marriage, death, membership lists, minute books, and finance records from 1911-1937 were at the home of pastor at that time. That the Ladies’ Aid Society minutes were at home of Mrs. Arthur Bailey, RR Rockford; the Foreign Mission records at home of Miss Ruth Broerien, RR 1 Rockford; the Young People’s Class records at home of Miss Ruth Oakely RR Rockford; and that the Young Marrieds records were at home of Glendola Myers, RR Willshire. The church has no cemetery of its own.
The Reverend Ray Hershberger was the pastor during the time the WPA Church Records Survey was completed.
I received the following poem about the Chattanooga United Methodist Church a couple years ago from Jerry Duff, a relative of the poem’s author, Ray Duff. Ray Duff’s father James Madison Duff was one the founders of the church and James Madison Duff was also Jerry’s great grandfather.
A Community Need
By J. Ray Duff
There were many things our community needs
Of that we were aware,
But the most important thing of all,
Was that of our soul’s welfare.
A few of the people of the neighborhood
Felt the need of a church nearby,
And proceeded to remedy the cause
By building their hopes up high.
A hall was finally rented
And a time set, we agreed,
But some folks really doubted
That it really would succeed.
The group met on Sunday Afternoon
And proceeded to elect,
The ones they thought best suited
To fill the jobs correct.
We were not disappointed
For the first response was great,
And when the count was taken
The number was thirty-eight.
They met some disappointments
That come to one and all,
For the man who owned the building
Later refused to rent the hall.
We found a hall in the center of town
Where were held dances and desecration
So they rented that and changed it
Into a Soul-Saving Station.
Well, the interest and numbers gradually grew
And the hall became too small
For the people who were interested
They could hardly accommodate all.
So a new church was suggested
And the idea grew and grew,
Until the present edifice
Finally came into view.
Many of the charter members
Have gone to their reward,
But many attend each service
And serve the risen Lord.
The church had a small beginning
But we’re sure most will confess
That down through many, many years
It has been a great success.
Many souls have found their Savior
And their lives have much been blessed,
Just because a few had visions
Of the needs of all the rest.
May the church just keep on growing
And have visions bright and fair,
Until all our needs are settled
By the God we worship there.
Thank you to Jerry Duff for sharing that poem and thank you to the Chattanooga Methodist church for hosting Bible School 2017.