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Bloomfield church celebrates 200 years

BLOOMFIELD — “The church community welcomed us here. It was such a blessing to serve this church,” said Pastor Jerry Wester, who served the North Bloomfield United Methodist Church in the 1970s.

Wester was among the many guests and current congregation members who gathered Sunday at the Bloomfield church, which celebrated its 200th anniversary in the community. The church, located at the township center, is currently served by Pastor David Miller.

An anniversary service was followed by a luncheon and program attended by 80 people.

Darlene Fenton, a member of the church for 59 years who was one of the organizers of the anniversary celebration, said the church is very active in the community helping those in need through mission work.

“It is nice to be able to celebrate 200 years,” she said as she and other church members looked over a table of church directories, photos and other memorabilia displayed for the celebration.

Mark Smith, a member for 25 years, said the church has been the home for many second, third and fourth generations of families.

“We brought our children up here in the church, and now we have grandchildren who came here today,” he said.

Smith said for any church to reach 200 years is an achievement, especially for any smaller church.

He said the church has been able to do much outreach in the community, including funeral meals for local families, tent revivals and family fest activities.

Holly Ward of Bloomfield said she is active with events at the church.

“It is a small community church that does a lot of outreach and programs for the public. We have dinners and vacation Bible school,” Ward said.

Wanda Maraczi, a member for 68 years, and Helen Zadunajsky of Bloomfield, who was a church pianist for the celebration, said they were all thrilled to see the cake noting the 200-year milestone.

Zadunajsky said church members have been very kind to her helping her when she was robbed.

“If you have a need, the church members are right there to help you. This is a wonderful church. They are kind. It is like a big extended family,” she said.

Wester, who served as pastor from 1974 to 1977, said the milestone means a lot for everyone associated with the church.

“It was a blessing for me to be here three years,” said Wester, who is retired and grew up in Youngstown. “We felt the warmth and friendship from everyone when we were here. They were very welcoming.”

During the service, the church recognized past pastors and also the oldest member, Dale Parker, who has been a member 83 years. There also was a video presentation.

In the early 1800s, local residents worshipped in a log cabin schoolhouse in the southern section of the township.

In 1857, the first house of worship was built in conjunction with Presbyterians, who later became affiliated with Congregationalists. Methodists and the Congregationalists worshipped together until 1875. Methodists purchased the one-half interest of the Congregationalists and repaired the property.

Over the years, the church had pews, chandeliers and other items added, including stain glass for the windows in 1902, which cost $80.

In 1945, the present and first basement was put in and the church redecorated. In 1969, the church celebrated its sesquicentennial, and in 1973 the sanctuary was restored. In 1998, the church began the first of many mission trips to Kentucky and Missouri.

The church in 2008 purchased the house and property north of the church known as “Minnie Matson’s Place” and in 2010, the sanctuary after 37 years was restored, with air conditioning added.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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