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The History of First Methodist Church Warren

Within thirty years of John Wesley's preaching, Methodism arrived here. In 1817, The Rev. Ira Eddy, riding circuit, came to this area and preached a revival on the banks of the Allegheny below Warren at what is now Starbrick. An active class, starting with the Meads and the Reeses, lived, prayed, and worked there until 1933, when the Class of seventy decided to move to Warren and built next to the central school. This Church, the first brick building in Warren, was located where now [c. 1977] is the parking lot next to the Boro building. In 1836, the Church was incorporated as the First Methodist Church at Warren Station, and the charter solemnly stated that male members over 21 years had a voice.


Methodism in Warren was active and growing for fifty years, so in 1885, a new church at the exact location was built. This Church served the congregation until 1927, when our present Church was built at Second and Market Streets, and the old Church was sold to the Evangelicals of Warren.


Some of us remember the old Church. The sanctuary was on the second floor, with a balcony sweeping to the chancel on either side. The architecture, distinguished in its day, was theatrically Victorian Gothic, with opera seats instead of pews, a centered pulpit raised from the communion table in front, and the choir and organ furnishing a backdrop to all. When a significant Sunday School addition was built in 1912 at the rear of the Church, there was a complete and active plant for First Church.


Within a few years of the old Church's building, the membership was so large and Warren's East Side so developed that many of the members across the Creek organized a class. In 1893, Grace Methodist Church was organized with 104 members, leaving behind a membership of 770 at First Church.


It is said that in the early 1920s, the Official Board faced the problem of rebuilding or replacing the old church organ. At a meeting, Jerry Crary voiced the opinion that a new organ in an old church was hardly appropriate. He announced that the L.F. Watson homestead at the corner of Second and Market Streets was committed to him on behalf of the Church. With new property available, the Board promptly took action toward building a new church.


Charles W. Bolton & Son of Philadelphia, was engaged as an architect.


In 1925, plans for the new Church were presented and approved. Avoiding Victorian, Romanesque, and then modern design, the architect offered a purely 13th-century Gothic church, with a chapel of the 15th-century period added. Nothing so engenders an atmosphere of worship in a community as this traditional architecture, and we have the Building Committee of 1925 to thank for its choice. It would have pleased John Wesley to know that his Methodists in Warren returned to the church beauty in which he was reared and carried the spiritual enthusiasm he had to preach in the open fields. The only sad note in the church design was for some faithful who were profoundly unhappy at moving the preacher from a front and center pulpit to a side pulpit and a side lectern. But they later came to worship and looked aside to the preacher without loss of devotion.


As is fitting in a Gothic church, our sanctuary is filled with religious art. The sanctuary window is of Christ; the west window is of Moses and the Old Testament; the magnificent transept window is of the Apostles; the rose window over the chapel entrance is of the Lamb of God. The aisle windows portray Christ's miracles and parables.


The lovely south window in the Chapel honors the Virgin Mary, and the side windows depict the great founders of the Church -- Tyndale, Luther, Wesley, and Asbury.


The windows in the chapel corridor and through the church school carry Biblical mottoes. Attention is mainly called to the window just inside the chapel entrance, which notes, as one enters the Church, that "I will lay me down in peace, and sleep."


The statue of Jesus is particularly appealing over the entrance, welcoming his believers into worship.


Our fathers built better than they realized. As a result, for fifty years (now 79 years), our house of worship has been a center of devotion and Christian Service in the community and throughout the world.


The building was dedicated at the Easter service in 1927 by our Bishop, Francis J. McConnell. Its twenty-fifth year was celebrated by our Bishop, Lloyd C. Wicke. Its fiftieth year, at its Palm Sunday service on April 3, 1977, will be [was] celebrated by a re-consecration to the Faith by Bishop Roy C. Nichols.


[Note: In 2002, we celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Church with Bishop Hae Jong Kim and district superintendent Robert Higginbotham.]


But what has happened, and what has come from Our Church in this half-century?


In the first place, and of less importance than the Service that has marked our congregation, is the maintenance of the physical plant. Our original heating plant was fired with oil, as a buried tank car to the north of the Church testified. Later, coal was used, with an under-floor stoker from the coal room under the rear courtyard. Since then, gas has been used, and the janitor has been relieved to perform his proper functions.


After twenty years, it was found that the Church's stone walls had been shoddily pointed, and the whole Church was re-mortared. Unfortunately, the Church's cast stone trim would not stand the weathering and, despite the repeated coating of paraffin paint, continued to deteriorate until, in 1976, all of the copings had to be covered with lead-clad copper flashing, and the rest of the cast stone recovered.


The electrical wiring was replaced entirely so our present lighting could be safely used.


The entire heating control system has been rebuilt so that the congregation and the Church School classes may be comfortable. The church offering is not entirely devoted to the comfort of our people; it is remembered that a Church is an institution to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.


Our beautiful stained glass windows have been protected by Lexan sheeting, which will also affect heat savings in the Church. [Of course, experts often change their mind--there are now plate glass protective panes...]


It should be noted that in 1948, our own Rev. Stephen T. Crary dedicated a World War II Memorial Altar in the Chapel, which lists the honored names of those who served their country. This altar was designed by Marion Sanford, recently of Warren, who has gained fame in sculpture.


This Church is but a building. Where have we served The Church, and who has served us? From our, Church has gone as ministers Bruce A. S. Wright, Morgan P. Noyes, Adolph P. Weaver, Stephen T. Crary, Frank C. Marlett, Jack MacDonald, Johan Stohl, and Keith Rieder. From our, Church have gone as missionaries Anna Samuelson Schreiber to Angola, Pearl Lund to Korea, Dorcas Hall to India, Martha McConnell, Jennie Smith, and Pauline Pittman. From our Church have gone in Christian social work Helen Noyes, Ethel M. Olson, Margaret Niederlander Hulslander, Charles R. Eaton. These have justified our Church in their Faith.


For these fifty years, we have been served and ministered by:


Charles T. Greer............................1923-1932


Clarence E. Allen...........................1932-1936


     Paul Selz, Asst.            1932-1936


W. E. Bartlett..............................1936-1938


Thomas E. Colley............................1938-1943


L.G. Wayne Furman...........................1943-1950


Arthur B. R. Colley.........................1950-1956


A. Culmer Schultz...........................1956-1962


James G. Cousins............................1962-1968


     Sherman Epler, Asst.         1962-1968


Adolph P. Weaver............................1968-1970


     Elmer H. Reamer, Asst.       1968-1970


Jack E. Spencer.............................1970-1977


     David L. Morse, Asst.        1971-1973


     Glen Irvin, Asst.            1973-1975


     James W. Kramer, Asst.       1975-1977


Harold Ray Kelly...........................1977-1980


     Delbert E. Jolley Associate  1978-1992


 Donald Everett Bloomster...................1980-1985


 Harry Donald Lash..........................1985-1989


 James Paul Ciampa..........................1989-1995


     Peter Illyan Elencovf        1993-1994


 Kenneth Anderson McGowan, Jr...............1995-1998


 William John Starr.........................1998-2009


     William Rue Beatty Associate 2002--2008


 Jeffrey D. Sterling........................2009- 2014


Mark E. Hecht .............................. 2014 - Present 


    Jon M. Swart, Parish Assoc. 2014 - 2017


First Methodist Church Warren has consistently been recognized for its structure, outreach, and Service. World Service, Conference agencies, and missionary support have been at the heart of our financial program. In addition, Christian outreach to the community has been the pattern of our organization and membership.


In recent years, our Church has been instrumental in the organization and provision of services for persons of special need carrying financial and leadership responsibilities for the Zodiac Coffee House -- a ministry to Edinboro Off-Campus Students, Community Concern House -- a residence for released patients of the State Hospital, Street Ministry to Youth through Churches United in Ministry, the establishment of the Warren County Jail Advisory Committee. We are strongly ecumenical in spirit and share fully in providing resources, leadership, and facilities for the programming of the Warren County Ministerial Association.


People enter our Church, worship, study, learn, and enjoy fellowship; they depart from the building having felt God's presence and being equipped for Service in the world.


Our history has been a beacon to the future. We are a people God calls to serve Him and our neighbors worldwide. The ministry and services our Church will render will continue the endless line of splendor that began within thirty years of John Wesley's preaching. What a privilege to be part of this movement of God in History.


[In recent years, an elevator has been installed to give equal access to those unable to climb stairs. We continue to be a church that reaches out to the community, including support for  The Sharing Place, the Caring Place, Safe House, Jail Ministry, Habitat for Humanity, Healthy Communities, Healthy Youth, and Crary Home. We have made numerous improvements to the physical plant, including weatherizing the exterior, renovating and expanding the organ, repainting the walls, and re-tiling the floors in the sanctuary. The sound system in the sanctuary has been upgraded, and a new sound system was installed in Founders Hall. We continue a tape ministry and are expanding our web ministry...]
From Official Church Records
History: Methodist Episcopal - Erie Conference. The original Erie Circuit included portions of Warren County as early as 1806, with Reverend Robert Richford Roberts having preached in Warren that year. In 1812, Reverend Jacob Young, Presiding Elder of the Ohio District, held a Quarterly Meeting on the Conewango, a short distance above the village of Warren. Bishop McKendree was present at this meeting. In 1817, Reverend Ira Eddy organized a Methodist Class on the banks of the Allegheny two or three miles below Warren.

In 1830, Reverend James Gillmore was appointed to the Youngsville Circuit and found the small Class still worshipping below the village. An extensive revival that year increased the Class to about seventy members, and the meeting place was transferred to a Schoolhouse in the town. The Reverend Elkannah P. Steadman led in the building of the first Church on Third Avenue, a brick building, in 1833. In 1836, it became a Station appointment and was chartered. This Church was replaced by a larger structure on the same site, dedicated on September 19, 1886. In 1910, a Sunday school center was added in 1927 under Reverend Charles T. Greer; the congregation built and occupied the Gothic Church building, which includes a sanctuary, Chapel, and educational unit. The membership in 1968 was 951. The membership on January 1, 2003, was 609.



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