Paradise Church

Our Church ...

 

 

        The church history begins in the year of 1849. A meeting was held between the Lutherans and the Reformed to erect a meeting house. Alith Bieber was the chairman of the meeting. He was a Lutheran.

        They named a slate of officials for the church consisting of two elders from the Lutheran Church, Jacob Wansettler and John Bieber, two elders from the Reformed Church, Jacob Lynn and Adam Sinning, two deacons from the Lutheran Church, Elith Bieber and John Hawn, and two deacons from the Reformed Church, John Messerly and Louis Thoman.

        George Messerly from the Reformed Church and Jacob Beard, from the Lutheran Church made up the building committee. Three trustees, John Vonogle, Louis Thoman and Abraham Miller, were appointed to see after the land for the burying ground and to erect a meeting house.

        On April 14, 1849, the building of the meeting house was given to Michael Vonogle for the sum of $426.00. He was to have it fmished in four months from the date of sale.

        August 28, 1849 was the day of the laying of the cornerstone. The sum of $11.55 was given by spectators as donations for the construction of the building. May 9, 1850 was the day on which the consecration of the meeting house took place and donations of $11.66 were given.

        The meeting house was located directly across the street from our present building in the northwest comer of our present cemetery. It was a white frame building 32' x 40' with two doors facing west. Our present church has two doors facing east. The Reformed congregation held services one Sunday while the Lutherans held services the next.

        According to strict custom the men sat on the right side of the church while the women sat on the left side. I know many of you remember when the men sat in the back of the church and had their Sunday school class while the women sat in the front on the opposite side and had their class.

        In the summer of 1879, the joint church celebrated their thirtieth anniversary. At that time, the Reformed Church had eighty members guided by Daniel Fink, George Messerly and David Heintzelman as elders and Samuel Thoman and Samuel Rupert as deacons.

 

The fire ...

 

        On a Sunday in the year of 1880, as members of the Reformed congregation were on their way to worship, the members saw the meeting house in flames. After saving what they could and watching the building burning to the ground, they went to a nearby school house to hold their services. At that time Joseph Miller, a member of the church, had a new barn. It was decided to hold services there. The members sat on planks. The barn is located at the end of New Buffalo Road, on the site of the present Green Valley Acres Sod Farm.

        In July, 1881, a class of thirteen was confirmed in that barn. The class consisted of Oscar Heinzleman, Phil Heinzleman, Freeman Lynn, who was Gail Crowe's grandfather, E. G. Moff, who was Bob Moffs grandfather, Franklin Smith, Celestia Heintzleman, Luella Heinzleman, Juliane Messerly, Minervi Messerly, Lydia Messerly, Sarah Crowe I, Sylvania Flickinger, and Andy Hushour.

        Cindy Sloan and Chad Herron are of the seventh generation that has attended this church. These are the children of our organist Gayle Herron. Many of our present day members have descended from the early founders of our church such as the Moffs, the Dietrich's, the Cooley's, Gertrude Greasel, Doris Bishop, Elda Lesher, and our family the Beard’s.

 

A New Beginning ...

 

        Plans were made to build a new church. Three members offered ground for the construction site, Joseph Heinzleman, Joseph Miller, and Andrew Lynn. It was decided to accept the Lynn offer since the land was directly across the road from the cemetery. The deed held by our church today says the land was given to the church for religious purposes. But at any time the church should disband, the land reverts back to the Lynn family.

        The Lutherans decided to build their own church on Western Reserve Road. To this day, it is known as Paradise Lutheran Church.

        The bricks in our present church were made and burned by the members right here on the church grounds. One of my earliest memories was hearing my grandmother tell of my grandfather who practically lived here at the church while he was burning bricks.

        On Christmas day in the year 1881, the church was dedicated. At the service, it was reported that there was a deficiency of $800.00. Over $600.00 was subscribed on the spot and the rest was raised in a short time. This left the church free of any debt. The church cost $3000.00.

        The first class to be confirmed in the new building was in April, 1883. Reverend Shafwas the minister. The names of the members were:

William Coblance

Charles Moff, who was Elda Lesher's father

Arlene Swope

HowardMoff

Ladonna Frondorfs grandfather

Irvin Rupert, who was Aletha Rupert's father-in-law

William Dietrich, who was Arthur Dietrich's grandfather

                                and Bill Dietrich's great grandfather

Goleth Worth

Laura Heinzleman, who was Gertrude Grease/'s mother

                                and Laverne Hollister's grandmother

Mary Clemens

Elmira Clemens

Mary Fishel

 

        The meeting of classes which included all of the Reformed Churches in northeast Ohio was held in our church on May, 1895 with retired missionary Reverend W. E. Hoy, who was the speaker. One hundred eighteen members attended.

        I remember my mother telling me a large tent was erected south of the church where women cooked and served meals. Along about this time, members who wished to do so, built individual sheds to shelter their horses along the west end of the church lot. Coming down to the 1900's, a small area was dug out under the church and a furnace was put in. There were two huge registers about four feet square to heat the church. Later on, men brought horses and excavated for a basement under the church. One big discussion was should the ground under the steeple be removed because of the weight of the bell? It was finally agreed not to disturb the ground under the steeple so that did not leave much room in the basement. A furnace room and a kitchen were partitioned off in the west end. The kitchen was, as I remember, about eight feet by twelve feet.

        In that kitchen, the ladies aid prepared many a chicken dinner which was served to the public. We always had one in October or November just before election time. The candidates who were running for office came and bought their meals and passed out advertising material. We charged $1.50 for adults and $.75 for children. One of the largest suppers served 394 adults and 32 children. Of that supper, we took in $675.24. Expenses were $173.86 netting $501.38. We gave $501.38 to the building fund.

        Our crowds grew so large we could not handle them, so we started to serve private parties such as the mother and daughter banquets, teachers groups, and the Ruritan Club.

 

The Building Additions ...

 

Later, we borrowed money and tore out the west wall partition and added the wooden part which includes our kitchen. At that time, this area would have been the old kitchen, the furnace room, the choir space, the altar space, and the pulpit space. Our last remodeling took place in 1967 - 1968 when we remodeled the steps going to the basement, extended the balcony and added the nursery and a Sunday school room.

        The very latest addition started about 1985 when we built a new kitchen, a new social hall, two storage rooms in the basement along with two restrooms, an elevator shaft and steps to exit the west end. Also a pavilion was built in 1994.

        Our present United Church of Christ was formed on June 25, 1967 by the union of Evangelical Reformed Church and the General Council of the Congregational Christian Church of the United States.

 

Comments from Bill Bishop ...

 

        "I think we owe the founders of our church much. They worked hard to help us get to where we are today and enjoy the things we have today. It seems to me, we should finish what they started 150 years ago. We have many more children at the children's sermon now. They will be the future of our church, we owe them something too. A church is dead when it does not have young people coming up and when it is not striving. Let's keep it alive.

        When we talk about fmishing the addition today, keep Paul Johnson in mind. He was somewhat like Nila's grandfather. He has been living here on the grounds or running to the contractor or the bank to tie up loose ends. We were fortunate to have him and also John Goodwin as we planned the new additions. In 1995, the portico roof over the east doorway was added. A portico roof and handicap ramp was added at the west doorway. The entire building over the fellowship hall was added in 1995.