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Warren First United Methodist Church marks 200 years during final service

WARREN — As the Warren First United Methodist Church celebrated 200 years in the city, the congregation also marked its final service Sept. 29 as the church is officially closed and up for sale.

More than 375 people from the church and Howland United Methodist Church attended.

The church members this summer voted to end the congregation at the church on North Park Avenue and will attend either Howland United Methodist Church or another church.

Pastor Matt Darrin, who served the church from 2018-2019, said, “We are proud of the 200-year history. We want the congregation to understand this was just a closing of a chapter. The story goes on. The congregation is the people, not the building.”

Darrin said the stained glass windows from the church will be placed in a new addition at the Howland United Methodist Church, as will an eternal light that was in the sanctuary.

“We will have a new welcome room and include the stained glass,” he said.

Pastor Yesudas Devadan, who served from 2004 to October 2018 as pastor, said, “It was an honor to serve 14 years and to be part of the history of the church. There are great people here. The church was a vital part of the community. I loved all the mission work the members were involved with.”

Devadan, who is from India, said he appreciated the mission work that was done by the church throughout the world.

The Rev. Abby Auman of Youngstown, who is district superintendent for the Mahoning Valley District of the Methodist Church, led the congregation in disbanding from the church building at the final service.

“We come to this very solemn moment to celebrate all the wonderful things that have happened here. The time has come for the congregation of the church to disband and leave the building. The church has provided refuge and comfort over the years for many people,” Auman said, noting the congregation still will exist, just not at the church.

“This church was God’s gift for 200 years. Everyone can lift up their hearts in remembering what the church has been in their lives,” she said.

Platz Realty Group is working to sell the building.

“The church served many generations of families,” Darrin said.

David McFarland, who at age 97 is the oldest member, said he was baptized at the church.

“Growing up next to the church, there was always many active youth and adult groups at the church,” he said.

Jai Amos of West Farmington said he has been attending the church since elementary school.

“I wanted to hold my Eagle Scout Court of Honors here, but that won’t be happening. This is bittersweet. I remember starting at the church when I was in kindergarten,” said Amos, who is now a senior at Trumbull Career and Technical Center.

He said his father, Jimi Amos, grew up going to the church.

Darrin said many former members attended the final service.

Jeanette Kiracofe, who used to live in Warren, said she and her late husband, Larry Kiracofe, attended the church before she moved from the area more than 10 years ago.

“I was aware this was the final service today and came from out of town to be here,” she said.

Kiracofe said if her husband still was living, he would have found a way to keep the church open.

Darrin said the church membership had fewer than 60 people and it was financially difficult to keep up the large church building.

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