Bazetta church marks 170 years

BAZETTA — As Bazetta Christian Church near the Trumbull County Fairgrounds marked its 170th anniversary, the church welcomed a new pastor and a new organist in recent months.

Pastor Michael Nicholson started at the church on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, and then shortly after celebrated with the congregation the 170th anniversary of the church.

Nicholson, who is an Army National Guard chaplain, said it was fitting that his first Sunday at the church was Veterans Day.

“It’s humbling to know the church has been around for 170 years and has such a history and tradition. I felt like the new kid on the block getting to celebrate this church’s milestone,” he said.

Nicholson said the congregation has been celebrating the history of the church, including displays of books and photos, and preparing for the future.

“The members have done justice to what has come before and will help lead the church to where God wants it to be in 2019,” he said.

The former church is used at the fairgrounds during the fair for events.

For the 170th, the church celebrated with former members attending a dinner in late November. The church has nearly 150 members with many meeting Nicholson and also the new music ministry leader, Candi Girt-Stojkov.

He said longtime member and elder Larry Sanfrey had been providing information on the history of the church.

“It was a time of food and fellowship and sharing memories of the church,” Nicholson said.

The Roaming Shores resident worked as the chaplain at Lake Erie Correctional Center in Conneaut before being deployed for a year with the Army.

Having pastored at churches in Loudonville in Ashland County previously and after returning from being deployed, Nicholson said he was looking for a pastoral ministry job.

“This church was looking for a pastor and I submitted my resume and was interviewed, I have a heart to pastor and shepherd people, which is my passion. Being a chaplain at a prison is different than pastoring full-time at a church,” he said.

In addition to being church pastor, Nicholson is a National Guard chaplain. As a chaplain in the military, he does pastoral care for his unit and also had worked with another chaplain from Arizona to run a chapel on a base in Iraq.

He said while serving for five years in the Navy on a submarine, Nicholson said God led him to ministry.

“I have gone from being on a submarine to pastoring in a church. That was God’s ultimate plan for me,” he said.

Nicholson said he has been pastoring for 20 years.

“I love shepherding and caring for people while preaching about Jesus,” he said.

The church was founded in November 1848 with a church erected at West Bazetta Corners, later known as Klondike Corners.

The first one-room church had two door openings with women and children entering on one side and sitting on the lectern side and men and boys 12 and older sitting on the pulpit side.

Sanfrey said a very important person to speak from the pulpit was President James Garfield.

In 1912, a parsonage was built on the property for $800 and the house is still there.

In 1972, groundbreaking took place for the new sanctuary with the first service held in September. In 1974, the original church was donated to the Trumbull County Historical Society and then moved to the fairgrounds Historical Village where it still stands and on July 28, 1974 the doors of the oldest church in the county were opened again.