A tale of two churches: Services move to Park Ave. UMC

Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times The Amherst United Methodist Church has voted to hold all worship at its Park Avenue building, but that doesn’t mean the former Old Stone UMC will be empty or unused.

Services will no longer be held at Old Stone United Methodist Church, but there is no plan to abandon the busy building.

Pastor Dan Reinke guides Amherst United Methodist Church, formed last year in a merger between Old Stone and its Park Avenue sister congregation. He said a narrow membership vote in late May moves all worship to the Park Avenue location next to the Amherst Public Library.

Old Stone will continue to be used by the Salvation Army Amherst service unit. It also it used twice per month by Lorain County nurses offering senior health care.

Boy Scouts meet Tuesdays and Alcoholics Anonymous hosts meetings on Thursdays at the South Main Street facility.

There are no plans to sell either building, said Reinke, who reluctant to address rumors to the contrary.

He said there is money to run both historic buildings for the foreseeable future.

Old Stone and Park Avenue congregations started holding joint services in early 2013 as their ranks thinned.

The two bodies formally merged in early 2014 with the permission of a UMC council of bishops.

Both buildings are long paid for and last year leader James McCourt said both would remain open indefinitely. At the time, worship services alternated between the two campuses every Sunday.

Park Avenue UMC boasted the oldest and first congregation established in Amherst. Home meetings began as early as 1824 and a church building was raised in 1837.

The church was located on the corner of Park and Church, but a fire in 1900 destroyed it. The church building as we know it today was constructed in 1902.

Old Stone UMC was built in 1837 and and looked like a grange hall. First used as a German Evangelical church, it was rebuilt in its present form around 75 years ago.

Both today belong to the Firelands District of the United Methodist Church.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.