Grace United Methodist plans celebration
Published 8:41 am Thursday, March 18, 2004
By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- With a 100-year anniversary on the horizon, Grace United Methodist Church will be both celebrating its past and looking forward to its next 100 years.
The church, located at 501 Grant St. in Niles, will celebrate its historic anniversary on May 1.
On Wednesday, an anniversary celebration committee met to plan out the church's activities to celebrate this milestone.
Though members of the church are proud of their long history, they also see the anniversary as an opportunity to celebrate the future.
The committee mapped out a basic sketch of their plans for the anniversary weekend at Wednesday's meeting.
The festivities will begin on Thursday, April 29 with a potluck banquet and a review of the church's history.
On Friday, April 30 the committee is planning an evening of speakers and entertainment.
On Saturday, May 1 the church will have an open house with a tour and a special tree dedication ceremony.
Members of the church will be planting a tree in the front yard to commemorate the first 100 years. The tree will also serve as a memorial for all of the church members who have passed away.
The anniversary celebration will wrap up on Sunday, May 2 with a special worship service followed by a catered dinner and some closing remarks.
When the committee was discussing how to close the anniversary celebration on Sunday, Bromberek pointed out the plans should include a look to the future.
The church's very first service was attended by only 11 people and took place on May 1, 1904, in a home on Parkway (it was called Mill Street at the time).
In the fall of 1906, a new church building, the First Church of the Evangelical Association, was dedicated on the corner of Grant Street and Lincoln Avenue. The church was known as the "little white church."
In November of 1946, the church merged with the United Brethren in Christ from Johnstown, Pennsylvania and became known as the First Evangelical United Brethren Church.
Throughout the years, the "little white church" underwent extensive remodeling and additions until 1945 when the church's congregation decided to erect a new building.
On August 16, 1953, the first service was held in the building that currently serves the congregation today.
In 1968, the church merged with the Methodist Church and thus became known as the Grace United Methodist Church.
Bromberek said the fact that the church is very old does not mean the church is not open to change.
She mentioned watching old church members who grew up with traditional worship styles begin to start clapping along with the music.
Dee Rough, a member of the anniversary committee who has been with the church for 54 years, said Grace United Methodist Church has been a huge part of her life.
Rough, a Sunday School teacher for decades, raised her two sons in the church and now has grandchildren who attend regularly.
She is proud of her church and also looks forward to what the future has to offer.
While the anniversary celebration may strike a chord with long time church members like Rough, it is also meant to teach the church's younger members about the origins of their place of worship.