Central Methodist Church

A new church is usually created out of some major disagreement or a change in religious doctrine in which a portion of the congregation does not agree.  This doesn’t appear to be the case when the Central Methodist Church was created in 1905.  Methodism had been growing so fast that it was necessary for a second church to be erected in Mansfield.  The only hint of unhappiness is mentioned on March 8, 1905, in which a small article in the News Journal mentions a second meeting at the home of Edward S. Nail, being called for the First Methodist Church. “The meeting is said to have been precipitated at this time by the passing of resolutions at a recent meeting of the church trustees to expend a large amount of money in completely remodeling the present church edifice.”[1]

First United Methodist Church Before Renovation

Things moved quickly after this initial meeting at the Nail home.  On March 21, 1905, organizers for the new church attended a school board meeting and arranged for the use of the high school auditorium, for $17.50 a month,[2] to conduct devotional services.[3]  On March 23, the members leaving First Methodist met for the last time at a Thursday evening prayer meeting.  It appears there were no hard feelings. Towards the end of the meeting, the members leaving were asked to stand and L. A. Palmer was called upon to offer a prayer to them. Next, those staying were asked to stand and Mr. C. L. Van Cleve prayed for those individuals.  The meeting came to a close with the two groups singing “Blest Be the Tie That Binds.”[4]

Van Cleve, also superintendent of the Mansfield Public Schools, took charge of the new congregation. At a meeting on May 25, 1905, members decided to purchase the lot in the corner of Park Avenue West and Sycamore Street for $7,420.[5]  The lot was once part of the recently razed John Sherman estate.  In October of 1905, the North Ohio Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church was held in Shelby, Ohio.  The Rev. Stephon K. Mahon, from Massillon, was appointed pastor of the young congregation.[6]  Vernon Redding, local architect, was hired and plans were accepted in February of 1907.[7]  On June 3, 1907, the Cotter Transfer Company began excavation of the site[8] and, on September 22, 1907, the cornerstone was laid.[9]

On April 5, 1908, three years since the church held its first service, enough of the church was completed to move from the high school auditorium to their new home on the corner of Park Avenue West and Sycamore.  Despite not having a proper building in which to worship, the congregation had nearly doubled in size in three years, now having nearly 300 members.[10]  The church was dedicated on August 27, 1911. The total cost of the building, including land, was $55,000 and church membership had grown to 352 persons.  The church is constructed “of Sandusky limestone with trimmings of Bedford white stone, in the old English style of architecture.  The roof is of dark red Spanish tile.”[11]  The church served Mansfield for nearly 100 years until dwindling membership forced the church to disband in the summer of 2003.[12]  Today the church is home to the Bethesda Fellowship Ministry Center.


Sources:

[1] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 08 March 1905, p. 3.

[2] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 03 May 1905, p. 3.

[3] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 22 March 1905, p. 6.

[4] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 24 March 1905, p. 5.

[5] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 25 May 1905, p. 12.

[6] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 16 October 1905, p. 2.

[7] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 07 February 1907, p. 7.

[8] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 03 June 1907, p. 10.

[9] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 23 September 1907, p. 3.

[10] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 06 April 1908, p. 7.

[11] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 28 August 1911, p. 5.

[12] The Mansfield News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio). 27 September 2003, p. 1C

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