LAKEMORE For members of the congregation and Lakemore residents, Sunday morning, Sept. 8 brought back memories and made some a little teary eyed as the Lakemore United Methodist Church bells rang for the first time in many years. This was truly something that had been missed for years throughout the village.
The church first began in the fall of 1919 when a group of ladies decided a Sunday School was needed in the village. Myrtle Snyder led the ladies to begin the Pioneer Class which was then followed by a men’s Fellowship Class and, by joining together, they became the Union Sunday School.
The few faithful first met in a portable one-room schoolhouse. In 1920, the services of a preacher began with ministers from different churches and denominations that came in to preach. Eventually, the congregation decided to join the Methodist Episcopal Fellowship. Rev. Henry Shook, the pastor of the Uniontown Methodist Church, was assigned to the church as its first pastor.
Located at the corner of Church Street and Sunnyside Avenue, the members of the church worshiped in a cement block building, while sitting on wooden benches which sat on dirt floors. Eventually, a second floor was added and in 1931 the church was growing, and the congregation purchased the house next door to be made into a Primary Chapel Department. In 1941, an unique floating church was established with Galilean Services on Springfield Lake.
The first steps were taken to purchase a new church home on May 27, 1947, when a four-acre site was purchased. A building fund, in the amount of $25,000 in February 1948 set the congregation in a new direction. With $30,000 from the Methodist Extension Fund, a building committee was appointed and contracts were set for a new building on the corner of Flickinger and Sanitarium Roads where the church is located today. Labor costs were reduced as many of the men and women worked together on the building project.
Through the years, ministers led the congregation to establish community services for area residents. Within the first 50 years, membership grew to 800. Those members of the church helped to establish a kindergarten in the 1960s to prepare students for public school which was eventually absorbed by the Springfield Local Schools. A preschool was then established to prepare four-year olds for kindergarten. Eventually, a latch key program served children after school on Wednesdays.
In later years, the Summer Fun Program was established and continued this summer celebrating its 25th year of serving the kids of the community. It is a free fun program that runs part of the summer for local children.
A soup kitchen was also opened and soon a softball team was enjoying the comradery of team spirit.
In 2002, Rev. Jeff Gindlesberger began his ministry at the church. He continues his Lakemore ministry at the church which is well established in the community. He is involved in many programs and under his leadership the church is known to be an outreach-oriented congregation. It hosts community events such as outdoor movies, barbeques, recognition of first responders, a community food pantry, being involved in the building of Habitat for Humanity homes being built in the area and so much more.
Today’s Lakemore’s United Methodist Church is a family-oriented congregation serving the community with Sunday School programs for all ages, Bible study classes, men’s and women’s groups which are active with dinners, rummage and bake sales and they support a variety of ministries. The many kindhearted volunteers make the community outreach programs special for area residents.
An average of 60 families are helped each month through the Food Pantry. The church volunteers also host a booth at the Rock the Docks Festival each year, have a float in the Lakemore Memorial Day Parade, organize a game night, sponsor a Pinewood Derby Race, host a free skating party and many other events to bring together community members. Other opportunities offered at the church are Trunk-or-Treat, a preschool, youth mission trip and the very popular Swiss Steak dinners.
On the special Sunday, members of the church and visitors celebrated the 100-year-old congregation of the church. They sang the song, "Come to the Church in the Wildwood" making it their own "Come to the Church in Lakemore". They also sang a medley of favorites, "Great is Thy Faithfulness", "How Great Thou Art" and "Be Thou My Vision".
Dinner was served after the church service and booklets of pictures and memories were given out.
When the bells of the church ring out through the village, know that this church, established 100 years ago, continues today to share their faith and faithfulness with the community. This members of the church on the bend in the road, enjoy their fun times, the music, laughter, supporting each other and enjoy supporting and providing for community members. Their faithfulness and dedication to the people of the area has made a difference.