CHESAPEAKE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

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CHURCH HISTORY

When we travel this great land of ours and pass through little towns and villages, how wonderful it would be if we could just view the events that make up its life. 

A village like that is what I wish to write about. It has a wealth of lore of human interests and happenings.  It has itís own individualities, often governed by its location.

This village of Chesapeake, of which I speak, is nestled on the Ohio River, between the Ohio and West Virginia hills.  ďOld Man RiverĒ has written many things into its history.  Due to the continual threats of floods, the people in building homes etc., must always consider the flood stages.

I would like to put down the story of one group of God-fearing people, who felt that Godís house should be above such threats and a place worthy of the community in which it served.

Old Kounís Chapel, as it was affectionately called, was built years and years ago.  The writer knows very little about the building of it, but the land was donated, the timber given, and the church built by men realizing the great need of Christianity in every community.

The threats of floods at that time were not so great.  Forests and vegetation took up the excess water, but as time went on and progress made hard surfaced road, paved streets, and cleared the land, more water came for the river to carry away.  Then came the floods.

When the river would rise to flood stage, Kounís Chapel was always surrounded and most of the time inundated.

Quite a few of the members realized this, so they purchased two lots on high ground, for a future building site.  This was done, I believe, while the Rev. Carl Hicks was pastor; a local boy who has gone far in the work of our Lord.

The lots laid idle so long, due to depression and hard times, that even taxes had been neglected.  After the 1937 flood, which almost covered the church, the congregation was again fired with the determination to move to higher ground.

Should the church be moved, or a new one built, was the discussion at every meeting.  It was finally decided the cost was too great to move, so, the church was sold and the money deposited to start a new church.  Services were still held in the old church until a basement was dug and made ready after a fashion for services.

One of the trustees went to Ironton to see the county engineer about digging our basement.  Mr. Hill gladly consented , and sent a digger and man to do the work for us.  A basement was dug, and due to misunderstandings, it had to be re-dug, so the county did the job all over; dug a new one and filled in the old one.

By this time the church building  project had excited wide attention; people were interested and money began to come in from all sides.

Mr. Mott, from above Proctorville, loaned his tractor and scraper, to the trustees, and one of them operated it to scrape out and point up the basement.  Two trustees gave $100.00 a piece to hire the concrete blocks made, right, there and the building project was on.

How we of the church watched it grow!  Some one always has to keep things moving, and in this we were very fortunate,  we had several. The men that were on the job were Mr. John Keeney, and Uncle Charlie Meers.  Both excellent carpenters.

So far everything had been donated, and there was very little actual expense to the church.  Now came the task of raising money.  Pledges were made and donations given, so it was possible to think about borrowing money to complete the church. 

Two of the trustees went to see Mr. B. C. McGinnis, President of the Twentieth Street Bank, and presented their problem.  When people trust in God, for help, you can be sure of it.  Mr. McGinnis made the loan of $7,000.00.  One of the trustees had done quite a bit of business with the Duncan Box and Lumber  Co., in Huntington, so he got Mr. Duncan interested in the project, and he gave us a large percentage off on our lumber, paint, and all supplies we purchased there.

The brick masons gave us a flat rate for laying our blocks, bricks, etc., if we would let them do it between regular jobs.  After the masons were done, then came the actual building program.

Mr. Keeney took hold and our church began to take on life.  He was certainly following the parable of the two houses, because ours was certainly built to withstand storms and floods.  The inspector, while looking over the church, said he never saw a building put together so strongly.

 How amazing it is when we sit down and begin to remember the little and big things that went into building the church.  We needed heavy posts to hold up the floor.  One of the trustees was a meat salesman and traveled through the tri-state area.  He saw contractors dissembling a large swimming pool, in Ashland, (the Mayo estate).  They were tearing down heavy iron or steel pipes, which had been used to hold up the roof.  He immediately bargained for them, hired a truck, hauled them to Chesapeake.  In Ironton, the contractors were tearing down an old Catholic Church.  He priced the slate roofing, bought it, and again hired a truck to haul the roofing to the church.

At the first war bond drive, in Huntington, Duncan Lumber Co., built a large platform up town for Dorothy Lamour to make her appeal on her personal appearance.  Duncan Lumber Co., gave us a big cut, if we would take the lumber off their hands.  Hence, the sub-floor was born for the church.

After school, Saturdays, and during the summer months, boys of all ages worked. Digging ditches for sewer, water, and gas pipes, with the prospect of big watermelon fees, when it was too dark to work.  These are just a few of the human interests that went into building our church.

The Ladies Aid, now the W.S.C.S., gave dinners, quilted quilts, and did anything to help the cause.

One of the trustees was a good plumber.  He installed the plumbing and kitchen equipment, etc.

While holding services in the basement, we kept warm with Uncle Charlieís old furnace.  He took the jacket off and we huddled around it every Sunday.  Many Sundays, Rev Taylor had to come down close to the stove for warmth during the preaching service.

Building a church is like a basketball game, it takes every one playing together to win.

I think I could almost be safe in saying, everyone that went to that church, and the majority of people in Chesapeake, helped to build our church.

When the inside was ready to be finished, Mr. Keeney took complete charge, and did all the finishing himself.  There is no finer piece of finishing anywhere along the river , and we of  the church, will place it beside any in this beautiful country of ours.  Surely God inspired him to make it so perfect.  God has given him this wonderful talent and he in turn donated it to the building of Godís house.  We cannot count in dollars and cents the labor he gave, of which he would take no remittance.

Many others gave of their labors and those who could not labor, gave of their money.  No matter how small or how great, the gift is the same in Godís eye, if itís all we can do.  Didnít He rebuke the Pharisee for making fun of the widowís mite?

The mortgage is paid off now, but time cannot stop, it must go on.  The building is built strong and true, but the Church is only just as strong as those who attend and carry on.

 One member gave a beautiful organ and was responsible for the broadcasting system over which morning and evening hymns of praise and comfort are sent out over the village.  Another member donates her time to playing those hymns.  How we must all work together to forward Godís kingdom on earth.  It is up to you and me to carry on.  Let us never be wanting in doing our part, be it ever so small.

 We may take to ourselves the prayer of the Womanís Club:
Keep us, O God, from pettiness;
Let us be large in thought, word, and deed.
Let us be done with fault finding and leave of self-seeking.
May we put away all pretenses, and meet with each other face to face
     without self pity, and without prejudice.
Let us not forget to be kind to our fellow man.
These things we ask in Thy Name, who gave his Son that we might have
     everlasting life.  Amen

 

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Chesapeake United Methodist Church
501 2nd Ave, Chesapeake, Ohio 45619 USA
Telephone: (740) 867-3848
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