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The History of Christ Church

 

Christ United Methodist Church is an outgrowth of the merger of two Methodist Congregations that took place on Sunday, June 19, 1938. This memorable day, members of Bethany met at their church at W. 91st Street and Willard Avenue for the last time and formed a motorcade, and with police escort, came and joined with the members of West Park Church at W. 138th Street and Lorain Avenue.  A service was held in the basement church. 

On August 7, 1938, the Ground Breaking Ceremonies were held.  Representatives from each congregation turned over shovels of dirt. A vesper service was held on the point under the large oak tree.  October 4, 1938 the excavation of the Sanctuary was begun.  The cornerstones from each of the former churches were placed in the new building, Bethany's stone on the East side, West Park's Church was placed in the center of the building, under the large stained glass window, over the attar, on October 30, 1938.

In the weeks that followed, the steel girders and beams were put in place.  The melodious bell, which had pealed forth its message for over 75 years at Bethany, was placed in the belfry of Christ Church. Finally the roof was put on, and it was then we had our first snowfall of the season.

On November 26, 1939 the first service was held in the new sanctuary.  At this time the furniture had not yet been purchased, the floors were bare and there was an improvised altar.  It was only after the money became available that these things were added.

The combined membership of the two churches was 632, with a Sunday School of 369.  The consecration services took place in November and December of 1939.  Dr. Ernest Knautz was the pastor, and one of the notable speakers at the services was the Honorable Harold Burton, Mayor of Cleveland.

The present Sanctuary and basement rooms were built for a cost of $75,000.  Today it would be worth over a million dollars.  The mortgage for the first section of Christ Church was burned in 1943, with Rev.  Roy Farmer, the pastor, leading the dedication services.

In 1950 Dr. Virgil Jump became our pastor and Christ Church grew in membership and size, the church represented a pillar of faith and love in a growing community.  With the formation of some very active Sunday School Classes, a new spirit of fellowship and dedication was prevalent.  The Inspiration Class, The Opportunity Class, The Doublets Class and The Kumduble Class were part of the earliest Sunday School.

In the early nineteen-fifties, the membership of Christ Church, along with the Sunday School, was growing at a fast rate.  With the membership headed toward the 2,000 total and Sunday School rooms full to capacity, it became evident that more space was needed.  In 1954, under the leadership of Dr. Virgil Jump, a building program was activated.  The program included the enlarged sanctuary, the Lounge, the Chapel, Fellowship hall, and all the Sunday School rooms. The cost of the Building Program would be $250,000.  By February 12, 1956, the building was completed, and consecration services were held, with Bishop Hazen G. Wemer and District Superintendent Clarence H. LaRue present.

One of the largest crowds ever to attend Christ Church was on Easter Sunday, 1959, when over 1,200 members and friends were present at the four services.

In the summer of 1959, Dr. Virgil Jump left for England as an exchange pastor with Rev.  J. Banks, a Methodist pastor from London.  The exchange was for a period of six weeks, and proved to be a very satisfying experience for both pastors.

Rev.  Ralph Gray was our pastor in the early sixties. Serving with love and dedication, his pastorate was short lived, as he was transferred to become District Superintendent of the Steubenville District.

By 1964, Christ Church was ready to celebrate its Silver Anniversary.  Twenty-five years of faith, dedication and devotion to all who came through its doors.  Rev.  Robert Dieterich, the pastor, along with Rev.  Clarence Cumler, led the service in the week-long celebration.  Among the special guests were Bishop Francis Kearns Dr. Robert Courtney, Dr. Harold Williams and Dr. Ernest Knautz.

Rev.  Oliver Davis became the pastor of Christ Church in the seventies.  Some fine programs and many special improvements were completed in these years.  One of the notable highlights was the celebration of the America's Bicentennial on October 12, 1975, The early morning service included the dedication service, with the City of Cleveland naming the huge oak tree on the east side of the church an historic site, The rest of the day was celebrated in fellowship with former pastors and friends, and climaxed with a good congregational dinner.

In a changing world, churches were finding much competition from TV and other activities.  In the early eighties, Rev.  Walter Weston came from Delaware Avenue United Methodist Church of Lorain, Ohio to become the new pastor of Christ Church.  After serving two years, Rev.  Weston was transferred to Western Reserve United Methodist Church of Youngstown, Ohio.  Before he left, Rev.  Weston helped to establish the Thrift Shop of our church. he also was very active in forming Prayer Groups and Healing Groups,

Dr. Rollin Conway became our new pastor in the summer of 1984.  He had served as Associate at The United Methodist Church of Berea, and came to Christ Church with some very fine credentials. The dedication, love, and leadership of Dr. Conway was felt throughout the membership of the church during his eight year tenure. In 1988 Christ Church celebrated "50 Years of Caring and Sharing" with a congregational dinner and program with many returning former members and pastors.

In the summer of 1992, Dr. Rollin Conway became the pastor of North Royalton United Methodist Church and Rev.  George Shiltz came to Christ Church from Keene United Methodist Church.  Some of the victories under Rev.  George's leadership, was the reactivation of our Men's Club and Summer Sunday School.  In 1994, Rev.  Shiltz was appointed to the Community United Methodist Church in Elyria, Ohio. Christ Church welcomed Rev.  Milton D. Smith who came to us from Grandview United Methodist Church in Cuyahoga Falls. Rev. Smith served with us for four years. During this time the church enjoyed many fish tales and Rev. Smith's jovial manner touched us all.

In 1998 Rev. Kerry King came to Christ Church from the Steubenville District in time to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the church.

In 2008, Rev. Nestor Nazario came to Christ Church and began a new chapter in our church's story.