Antioch United Methodist Church
Reaching out to comfort, heal and feed others in the name of Jesus is our mission.
Our Antioch Church Family in involved in missions around the world, in the Dayton metro area and in our local community.
Several members have participated in Work Trips within as well as outside the United States.
We join with other Christians to touch over 100 countries with schools, hospitals, feeding stations, disaster relief and long term refugee resettlement around the world.
That God the Father is Creator of the universe and sovereign of all.
That Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is Savior, Master, and Lord of those who choose to believe through the New Birth.
That the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit is present in our day.
That the Scriptures in the Old and New Testaments are inspired of God.
That a personal relationship with Christ is not only possible, but necessary for eternal life.
That the church must have a ministry to the whole world through evangelism, missions, and social awareness.
That prayer, Bible Study and Christian fellowship are essential for Christian growth.
: Celebrating over 200 years
Antioch Church had its humble beginning in the year 1812 when Jacob, Issac and John Shank, together with their neighbors, built a meeting house. The Shank brothers had migrated from Virginia in 1808 and settled in the Wolf Creek vicinity. Jacob built his log cabin where Mrs. Etta Shank's farm was later located; Issac where Ben Thompson later lived on Heater Road and John where the Charles Beck farm was located. The meeting house was constructed of hewn lumber, since there were no sawmills, and stood on a level spot just below the cemetery where Heeter Road now meets Wolf Creek Pike.
To understand the primitive nature of the times, it should be remembered that by 1812 the Declaration of Independence had been written only 36 years before, the Constitution was a mere 25 years old, the State of Ohio was just 9 years old and Montgomery County stretched north to what would become the border of the State of Michigan. The United States was at war with the Great Britain. The year before 1812, General, later President, Harrison defeated the Indians at the Battle of Tippecanoe. The year after 1812, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry defeated the English fleet in Lake Erie. Indiana would not enter the Union until 1816 and Michigan would not become a state until 1937.
In those early days church services were very uncertain. Wolf Creek Chapel, as it was called, depended on traveling preachers who rode through the country on horseback, holding services wherever they came upon a church house. The preacher might be United Brethren, Lutheran, Methodist, Reformed - all were welcome. Before many years had passed, Wolf Creek Chapel became associated with the United Brethren Church of the Miami Conference, although no mention of Wolf Creek is found in the Annual Conference minutes until 1835. As a member of the Conference, Wolf Creek was included in the regular appointments of one ofthe circuit riders who were assigned to make the rounds of the several churches on their circuits. From 1840 to 1899, Lewisburg, Pyrmont, Wolf Creek and Walker Chapel composed a circuit, with the exception of the period 1873 to 1876 when Wolf Creek (which by that time was called Antioch) was on the Salem (or Clayton) circuit.
By 1871, after 59 years of service, the "Old Frame Church" had become too small and impractical for future use. Inscribed in a faded school notebook under the date of February 25, 1871, is a record which is still very legible:
"We, the undersigned subscribers agree to pay to the Board of Trustees, to be appointed by the next quarterly Conference of Lewisburg Circuit, Miami Annual Conference, Church of the United Brethren in Christ, and their successors in the office, the several sums annexed to our names for the purpose of building a church house for the Wolf Creek Society on the above name circuit, to be located on the north side of the Dayton and Brookville Pike."
Following this are sixty nine signatures and subscriptions. Henry Shank pledged $400.00; Jacob Shank, John Clayton, David Burkett, D. H. McNelly, each pledge $200.00. More names and varying amounts follow. Sebastian Heeter, who had just died, left $300.00 to the church in his will. The ground for the church building, the plot where the present church stands, was donated by Henry Shank.
New Name Adopted
The total sum of $2,266.00 was subscribed to build the new brick structure and work was started. The bricks were baked on the Henry Shank farm across the road and it can be presumed that many of the timbers used in construction were felled and sawn close to the site. The new church, in the pastorate of B. W. Way, at that time was incorporated under the name of "Antioch Chapel" on December 11, 1872, and the building was formally dedicated in 1873. Lighting of the church was by coal-oil lamps and the Treasurer's records show that $.70 was paid for oil in the year 1875. Money collected for expenses in the year 1875 totaled $9.25, of which $8.55 was paid to G, Wiedman, sexton, after the $.70 had been paid for oil. In 1876 a special collection of $50.00 was taken to purchase an organ for the church.
The women of the church, then as now, were active in church affairs. The fast Women's Missionary Association had been organized in 1872 at the Home Street (late Euclid Avenue) Church. By 1874 the women of Antioch had formed a local circle of W.M.A. with Susan Shank, wife of Henry Shank, as its fast President. The first Secretary was Miss Amanda Wiedman, daughter of Gottlieb Wiedman In later years the name of the organization was changed to Women's Society of World Services.
With the passing of time and coming of new inventions, Antioch continued to improve its physical plant. The wood stoves which once heated the building were replaced by a furnace. Coal oil lamps gave way to carbide lights, and they in turn to a gasoline powered electric light plant. Rev. E. A Griffith, pastor from 1931 to 1934, has written that he shall never forget, "Herb Landis sitting in the engine room with a can of gasoline to keep the light plant running during our Children's Day Program." Ethel Denlinger recalled that people brought flash lights to the evening Children's Day performances and when the electric lights flickered out, the flashlights would be shone onto the stage and the program would continue. Sooner or late the lights would come on again and the flashlights would be put aside until the next emergency arose.
Building Expansion Begins
In 1907, while W. T. Frank was pastor, a brick addition was built on the front of the old building, to house a large Sunday School room, the bell tower and a covered entrance. The bell, donated by Mr. and Mrs. Sam Long, was also installed at that time. Charles Shank hauled the bell out from Dayton by buckboard in a driving rain, taking from three in the afternoon until nine that evening to make the trip. The old straight-backed pews were replaced by curved pews (which have since been replaced by straight-backed pews again). A new rostrum was built in and the iron fence was removed from around the church.
During the pastorate of Rev. Homer E. Felty, 1937 to 1942, a grand piano was purchased and a "New Building Fund" was started. Plans were drawn up to build to the back of the then existing church when sufficient funds would be available.
Rev. Milford E. Ater, who served as full-time pastor at Antioch from 1942 to 1955, lead the congregation in a concerted effort to add to the Building Fund. The Memorial Day Fish Fry was started about 1950 as a means of raising money. For several years, the people of Antioch operated the dining room at the Montgomery County Fair, serving meals from seven in the morning till late at night for the six days the Fair was open. All the proceeds went into the Building Fund.
The next big change in the building was the excavation of a basement under the entire church. No contractor would consider taking the job. Undaunted, the men of the church and the community, under the supervision of L. A Goins, began in January, 1948, to scoop out the earth. The entire basement was excavated within about one month's time. Tractors and scoops were donated for the job with Mary Rowe's store donating much of the gasoline used. Foundation walls and concrete floors were laid, then the area was partitioned off to make three class rooms, a nursery, a furnace room, restrooms and a kitchen. It was about this same period that the brick exterior of the church was covered to simulate stone.
In 1946, the United Brethren in Christ merged with the Evangelical Church to form the Evangelical United Brethren Church.
Dream of Years Comes True
When the fund passed the $15,000.00 mark, it was decided to start an addition which would more than double the size of the church building. Ground was broken June 28, 1953, at the rear of the existing building, for a three story unit which would house the new chancel, a chapel seating 100 persons, nursery, pastor's study and church office on the fast floor; educational rooms on the second floor and a kitchen, large social hall and stage in the basement. The Cornerstone for this structure was laid September 13, 1953, and the superstructure for the entire new addition was erected but only the basement was completed for use at that time.
In 1985, under the leadership of Rev. William D. Worth, the congregation voted to proceed with the second phase, which consisted of finishing the upper two floors of the educational unit and enlarging and remodeling of the sanctuary. A Building Committee consisting of Russell Rhoades, Chairman, Ethel Denlinger, Roy Shock, John Stout and Thomas Nisbet was appointed and work was begun by the contractor in April, 1956. The back wall of the old church was broken through and this wall became the archway which is now at the front of the chancel, the chancel being part of the new addition. The flat ceiling of the sanctuary was entirely tom out exposing the rafters and roof beams to provide a high, beamed ceiling. Pillars and arches were constructed along the outer aisles in the Gothic style. A large narthex and a balcony were built in and new stained glass windows were installed in the east and west walls as well as in the chancel. During the period of renovation, worship services were held in the new social room.
On November 18, 1956, the first worship service was held in the completed sanctuary, which had been entirely refurnished to seat 315 persons which was approximately 115 more that the previous sanctuary held. Dedication ceremonies were conducted by Dr. Fred L Dennis, Bishop of the Central Area, on February 24, 1957, with Dr. William K. Messmer, Conference Superintendent, assisting.
During the pastorate of Rev. Forrest M. Garner, the sanctuary was completely air conditioned (in 1959), the entire parking area on both side of the church were paved and an electronic organ was installed in 1961. The stained glass window at the front of the church, which had been in since 1907, and now presented a serious leaking problem, was removed and the aperture was filled in and decorated with a large cross.
Past 45 Years...
In 1987, Antioch again saw renovations from the basement to the third floor. Many individuals donated many hours to the painting and restoration of the church interior. This was in addition to the use of professional contractors for the installation of an entire new roof and the repair and painting of the sanctuary. Volunteers were also instrumental in the remodeling of the choir loft and chancel area as well as the installation of a new sound system. In 1965, the church purchased approximately 13 1/2 acres lying east of then existing property line, with hopes of using the property for future development. This property was known as the Darby property. The majority of tiffs property was sold in 1969. The proceeds of sale, $13,721.00, were used in 1972 to help defray the costs, $17,500.00, of a major remodeling project started in that year. Waterproofing of the basement and remodeling of restrooms were part of this project.
At the same time, funds were provided by the Antioch women's groups for the painting of the nursery, the installation of carpeting in the sanctuary, and the installation of draperies in the fellowship hall and parsonage.
In 1968, the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church merged into the United Methodist Church.
The years between 1973 and 1986 saw little change in the physical condition of the church. For that matter, the major structure of the church is the same today as it was 35 years ago.
In 1986, under the direction of Pastor Richard L Mitchell, the congregation of Antioch Church built a two car attached garage for the parsonage.
As with every undertaking of Antioch; the women's groups of the church were of great assistance. The women provided funds for new lights, including major rewiring, in the church kitchen and the fellowship hall. The women also provided new stoves for the kitchen and the parsonage as well as the funds for new carpeting in the sanctuary.
In the mid 80s over $25,000.00 was spent in renovations, all without depletion of the church's reserves, demonstrating again the generosity and spirit of cooperation of Antioch's congregation.
In the early 90s the church found it necessary to replace the furnace heating the sanctuary. At the service held the next week in the fellowship hall, the special offering raised enough money to purchase and install the new furnace with an additional $500.00 placed in the "rainy day' fund.
Also in the early 90s Dorotha Rhoades completed an incredible span of 62 years as the church organist. Beginning as a 17 year old Dorotha played to glorify God for three full generations of Antioch families. This record of service may have no equal anywhere. A special Sunday of tributes was held in her honor.
Also in the early 90s when a new underground oil tank had to be installed to replace the leaky, old underground tank, an ambitious landscaping program was undertaken around the entire perimeter of the church.
A former District Superintendent told us at our Annual Charge Conference that Antioch has the finest parsonage in the North District. In the 90s much attention has been taken to ensure that the parsonage is well cared for and many updates including new carpeting upstairs and air conditioning throughout have been completed.
A magnificent bequest of more than $70,000.00 from the Estate of Laura Kitchen has ensured that Antioch will be able to protect its physical structure well into the 21st century. A plan for building a shelter on the lands east of the parsonage for fair weather church activities and recreation is being studied as one way to memorialize the generosity of the Kitchen family.
It will be noted that most of this history deals with the physical church building, its improvements and expansions. This is a tangible yardstick of the religious spirit and faith of the people who have made up Antioch over the years. It is important to note, however, that this heritage is still alive. Hence our slogan "Antioch Alive at 185".
Antioch is made up of members who remember once coming to church in Ford Model T and the struggle to give cheerfully in the Depression as well as new members who have been made to feel at home by the spirit of Love and Faith that are so evident at Antioch.
As we move forward from our first 203 years of serving Christ, may we carry on the valuable heritage of pioneering courage and spirit of faith which has been passed along to us by Jacob, Issac and John Shank and the multitude of faithful who have followed after them as brothers and sisters in service to the same Lord.