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A Brief History of the Cherry Grove Church

Cherry Grove U. M. Church, formerly United Brethren, is as much a spiritual landmark in Anderson Township as any historical landmark in this area. Its history has been a varied one and yet is not unlike that of many churches that sprang up during the mid-1800s. But what is unique about Cherry Grove, is that it has been an inspirational force in the community for over 160 years.

In the year of 1851 there were five churches or classes on the circuit, Pendelton, Palestine, Rodgerville, Five Mile and Fulton. Soon all of these churches drop out of the record with the exception of Palestine and Five Mile. With the closing of these churches a new church will soon blossom upon the horizon, Cherry Grove.

In that same year, a camp meeting was held in this area by Rev. W. J. Shurey and assisted by Reverends, Christopher Flinchpaugh, John Kemp, Jacob Scanahorn, Flichinger and Rhinehart. Some members of the Five Mile Church also helped with the work.

The Cherry Grove Class was the outgrowth of this camp meeting and as near as can be determined, the class was started in 1851 or 1852. Apparently sometime soon after the camp meeting, Andrew Markley, William Reed, Josephine Reed and a man named Durham met in the East back room of the hotel in Cherry Grove and organized a Sunday School.

The first services were held in one of two places, the hotel or roadhouse as it was called in later years and the Cherry Grove Schoolhouse, which were located near each other on the South side of Ohio Pike near Eight Mile Road.

The Cherry Grove Church was officially organized on August 20, 1853, and William Reed was appointed as a “Trustee of the Cherry Grove Meeting House.” On October 8, 1853, Mr. Henry Von Gundy gave the first report as Steward of the church.

December 31, 1853, the quarterly conference elected seven men as trustees of the new church. They were, Samuel Morrison, Jackson Banks, Moses Markley,

Henry Von Gundy, William Reed, Jacob Markley and John Mathews.

In 1854, the Cherry Grove class took a bold step towards becoming a more permanent organization within the community. A church was built on the property directly across the street from the hotel and Rev. T. N. Sowers, who was formerly a carpenter, did most of the work.

In 1854, the circuit included the churches of Palestine, Five Mile and Cherry Grove. By 1879 the circuit consisted of churches from Five Mile, Cherry Grove, Pleasant Valley, White Oak and Mt. Summit. The White Oak Class disbanded two years later in 1881. The Mt. Summit Class stayed in existence for 12 yrs, closing its doors on April 5, 1891. For many years the circuit consisted of churches from Five Mile, Cherry Grove and Pleasant Valley, also known as the Nine Mile Church. The circuit was then known as the Cherry Grove Circuit. The pleasant Valley Church closed its doors in November of 1930. On May 11, 1905, the church was heavily damaged by a tornado. The church was repaired and an annex was added. Then on July 7, 1915, the church was again damaged by a tornado and repaired.

Nine years later on December 14, 1924, the church was completely destroyed by a fire on Sunday morning, shortly before services were to begin.

Under the leadership of Rev. Hohn, a new church was built and dedicated less than one year after the fire on November 22, 1925; estimated cost was $36,000. At the time of dedication, the debt stood at $15,600. Four years later on November 3, 1929, a Jubilee Service was held to celebrate the complete payment of the building debt.

On November 16, 1946, the United Brethren and the Evangelical Association met in Johnstown, Pennsylvania to form a new denomination called the Evangelical United Brethren in Christ.

Cherry Grove Church celebrated its one-hundredth birthday on November 6, 1952. There was an elaborate celebration consisting of morning, afternoon and evening services.

At a congregational meeting on September 29, 1963, the congregation voted to move forward by building. A special meeting of the Council of Administrations voted, Sunday, January 19, 1964, to buy 5 acres on Eight Mile Road, which the congregation voted in favor of on February 2, 1964. In 1963, the Five Mile congregation merged with the Cherry Grove Church and on Sunday, October 3, 1963, Rev. Kyle Phillips held the last regular service at the Five Mile Chapel. The little stone church is now in the hands of the Five Mile Historical Society and is listed on the National Registry of Historical Places, and is open to the public year round.

On March 14, 1968, the Local Conference elected a building committee of six, plus a chairman who was appointed by the pastor.

Cherry Grove E.U.B. Church officially became Cherry Grove United Methodist Church as a result of the union of the former Methodist E.U.B. denominations in Dallas, Texas, on April 23, 1968.

During the morning worship service, Sunday, November 3, 1968, at the Summit Elementary School, the congregation, under the leadership of Rev. James Stewart, proceeded to the site at 1428 Eight Mile Road and broke ground for the new structure.

The first worship service conducted in the new church which was valued at more than $250,000 was held Sunday, October 26, 1969. The Consecration Service was held on September 27, 1970.

Exactly eleven years later on Sunday, September 27, 1981, the congregation held a ground breaking ceremony for its new educational wing, which cost $175,562.80, without furnishings. The Consecration Service for the new structure was held on Sunday, October 10, 1982, with Rev. Robert Kimes, our Superintendent, present.

In 1984, we at Cherry Grove joined in with the many churches that make up our denomination, in celebrating the Bicentennial Anniversary of the United Methodist Church.

2002, Sesquicentennial Celebration - We took time throughout the year to reflect on our 150 yrs. of service to the Cherry Grove area. We had former ministers come back, such as Rev. James Stewart, Bill Zeller, Carl Robinson, James Sanders and Rev. Wayne Stuntz, who was raised in our church and became a United Methodist Minister. All of this could not have been possible without the hard work of Rev. Harold Stockman and Rev. Kurt King, who replaced him, and the Sesquicentennial planning committee.

November 2015 was our 163rd year, currently under the guidance of Rev. Patty Matthews. We celebrate our past and look forward to the future in God’s service.

Terry Cooper

Church Historian

HISTORY CELEBRATION COMING

During the year 2002, we celebrated 150 years of service for the Lord. This November, (get ready for this...yes it’s been ten years) we will be celebrating our 160th Anniversary. As Historian, I would like to ask for volunteers to help plan for a small celebration to help current members, friends and also the Anderson community know of our rich heritage. If you would like to help plan, call Terry Cooper at 474-4478.

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