By Rick Palsgrove, Groveport Editor
Things, people, and places have beginnings and endings and now the end has come for a beloved church in Groveport.
The Groveport Presbyterian Church formed in early 1853 when 11 people met in the home of Samuel and Elizabeth Sharpe to organize the congregation. More members soon joined and the fine brick church was built on College Street and dedicated on Oct. 5, 1853. It is the oldest church structure in Groveport and the longest church building in continuous use in town. Over its 168 years, the church has been redecorated, art glass windows added, as well as other amenities. An addition to the church was constructed in 1949. Its first pastor was Samuel Wilson.
In 1853 the church’s congregation looked forward to its fulfilling future and the building’s brick walls gave off a sense of permanence.
But now, after 168 years, the Groveport Presbyterian Church, a source of spiritual and community outreach in Groveport, has closed and taken its place in the fabric of history.
The beautiful little red brick church, located at 275 College St., was home to church services, women’s teas, tasty spaghetti dinners, food drives, the Safetytown program for kids, and so much more. The historic church’s last services were on July 11 with its regular morning service and a special “celebration of life” service in the afternoon.
Groveport Presbyterian Church Pastor Christina Piper said the church closed primarily due to declining membership. In April, she said the church at that time had 25 members. In the early 2000’s there were 45 members and the church’s membership peaked in the 1960s with 125 members. According to Piper, the church’s money resources were down, but the church was not in debt. But the congregation also was not growing.
Church member Cindy Raver described the church’s closing as “heart wrenching.”
“It’s overwhelming that after 168 years we’ve come to an end such as this,” said Raver. “It just seems such a shame.”
Raver said past and present church members traveled from Missouri, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Virginia to be at the church’s closing service on July 11.
“We may have been a small congregation, but we organized and supported some pretty big projects to benefit our community over the years,” said Raver. “I’m sure most of us will continue to do so and find new ways to help others as we’ve been taught our whole lives there.”
The fate of the church building is in the hands of the Presbytery of Scioto Valley, which owns the church structure and will determine its fate.
“This may be the closing of a church, but it is not ending the spread of the Gospel,” said church member Margaret Ann Cottrill, who has been a member of the church for 67 years. “Our Lord will lead us to new things and guide us wherever we are. He is with us every step of the way no matter what.”
The church is silent now. Recently I stood outside the church and absorbed the stillness that envelopes it now – a quiet that felt like a prayer.