Thornville United Methodist Church
Wednesday, September 20, 2017

History

 

 
                                                                               1844                                                         1921 new church and old church
 

 
 
In 1801 the first Methodist circuit riders began spreading the word of the English Methodist Episcopal denomination in the wilderness of Ohio. Some of the first circuit riders in the Thornville area, (then called New Lebanon) were Jesse Stoneman and James Quinn. They established the Muskingham circuit which was west of the Muskingham River and north of the Hocking River. This area later became Perry, Fairfield, and Hocking counties in Ohio. It was an uphill struggle for the english speaking circuit riders since more than half of the early settlers in the Thornville area had German ancestry and spoke German.
By 1807 the Methodist had enough of a following to form a "Methodist Society" in Thornville. They held their meetings in the home of local residents. In 1809 Jesse Stoneman, one of the first circuit riders in Thornville, moved his family to Thornville and became the Local Elder of the "Methodist Society" which by then was part of the New Salem/Thornville circuit. In 1811 the Jacob Kemper family donated land from their farm and rallied the community to donate hand-hewn logs and labor the erect a "Methodist Meetinghouse" which became the first permanent house of worship for the Methodist. The Kemper's also donated the land for a Methodist cemetery where Rev. Stoneman, his family and other circuit riders are buried. In 1820 the "Methodist Society" purchased the donated land from the Kempers for $25. This land is one of the two lots that the present church sit on today.
In  1837 Dr. William Nast, a former Lutheran preacher who embraced the Methodist movement, became a Methodist circuit rider, targeting German speaking areas. Thornville was one of the communities. Dr Nast was the  first circuit riding preacher to do a Methodist service in both English and German. This brought many in the area to also embrace the Methodist movement. By the 1840's Thornville had enough members in their "Methodist Society" to apply for" permanent congregational status". Thornville was appointed a "protracted meeting" by the Perry County district of the Methodist church, and approved for church status sometime around 1843. In 1844 the first Methodist church, a white wood frame structure was dedicated. In 1845 the lot on the Northwest corner of North Church Street and East Columbus Street was purchased at a Sheriff's sale. The two lots comprise the present church site today. By 1874 circuit riding preachers ceased in the Thornville area and permanent multi-year pastors were assigned to the church. In 1885 the parsonage was constructed and the pastor became a resident in the community.  The 1885 parsonage is still in use today. The parsonage has been remoldeled periodically to keep up with the times. In 1919 the cogregation approved the building of a new brick church to be located on the corner lot of N. Church Street and E. Columbus Street. Constuction began by the O.J. Hawkins & Son Contruction Company of Newark Ohio in 1920 and was completed in 1921 at the cost of $29,461.23. In 1922 after the new and old church sat side by side for a year it was decided to have the 1844 wood frame church disassembled and the materials sold off to the community. In 1950 a kitchen was added at the east end of the lower level of the church. In 1954 the wood floor was replace with a concrete floor in the lower level of the church.
  In 1968 the Methodist Episcopal and the Evangelical United Brethren church's merged and the Thornville Methodist church became the Thornville United Methodist church. Remodeling of the sanctuary and the rest rooms addition was completed in 1969.  It was made handicap accessible in 1996. A ramp was installed at the east end of the church leading to the entry way. In 2003 pews were removed from the rear of the north side of the church to provide wheel chair access in the pews. 
 
We celebrated our 200th Anniversary From April to October, 2007. We had many of the past Thornville UMC pastors as guest speakers. In October, Bishop Bruce Ough of the West Ohio Conference, was the final guest speaker for the celebration.