‘OLD CHURCH ON THE HILL’ CELEBRATES 200 YEARS
The Sharon Community Presbyterian Church (SCPC) was the first church in Moon Township having been founded in 1817. This year marks their 200th Anniversary. Many activities are planned throughout the year with the community celebration scheduled for Sunday, August 20, 2017 when a special church service will be held at 3 PM with an open invitation for all.
Excerpts from historical documents revealed the following. Two hundred years ago, there were no church buildings and the congregation had to meet in the homes of various members. Traveling to these homes through rain, sleet, snow, ice or dust – on horseback, on foot or in wagons or sleighs – was not an easy task. Before leaving for the church services, the farm chores had to be done as the one great means of livelihood in those days was agriculture.
Parishioners managed to buy a tent a few years later and when weather permitted they held their services in it. The tent site is recorded as “the grove on the side of the hill which lay toward Flaugherty Run”. It was known as the “Flaugherty Run Mission”. Mission work was attempted with the Wyandotte Indians – sometimes successful and sometimes disappointing.
The Rev. Mr. MacDonald was the minister of record. He stayed with the new congregation for eleven years. His love and hard work had kept the church together during those early years. The Rev. Robert Rutherford served the church for one year from 1827-1828. During that year, a new church building was erected. The Presbytery of Ohio required that the church be built equidistant from the Montour Presbyterian Church and the Mt. Carmel Church. The homes that were soon built around the church became the center of a village called Sharon, later named Carnot.
To the new ‘church on the hill’ came a man who was destined to serve as pastor for the next fifty years, the Rev. S. C. Jennings. At the time of his arrival and installation, there was no furniture in the church and only 18 members on the church rolls. The church grew quickly.
In 1868, the old brick church was condemned and was torn down. A temporary frame structure was made from some of the old church’s lumber and used as a meeting place for a time. The bricks of the old church went into the foundation of the new church. The cost of the new church was $8000 and in January 1869, it was dedicated.
In 1929, a tornado wrenched the roof from the church building, bringing it down with a crash on the graves below. The interior of the church was seriously damaged by heavy rains. Donations poured in. Other churches from around the area helped out in the work that had to be done. In three months, the church was completely repaired.
In 1942, at the time of the 125th anniversary, the effect of World War II was being felt. Work was being started on a government airport a mile away and the countryside was rapidly changing. Sharon Church was the only church in Moon Township because the “Bell Farm Church” was razed when the airport construction began.
The congregation grew and grew. In 1959, the Christian Education building was completed and dedicated. In 1964, Rev. Reuel Johnson, who served the church until his sudden and unexpected death in 1980, accepted the call as the SCPC minister. In 1965, the current church sanctuary was completed although the “Old White Church” remained as a community center housing the Food Pantry which is in existence today.
In 2000, the Old White Church was condemned and torn down. An exact replica was built to replace the original building and is now called the Youth and Community Center. It continues to house the Food Pantry and serves the community in many ways with a full sized basketball court and meeting rooms.
Although many changes have occurred over the years, the love of Christ and dedication to mission and service in His name continues living up to the words and music of the song titled “The Old Church On the Hill” written by Charles Dilkes Rouser.
I’m thinking, yes thinking, just thinking tonight
Of a church upon the hill-side
That is seen from far and near,
And of the friends who’ve cross’d its portals
In and out,
And now lie as guardian angels
Beneath the shadow of its wings.
This church upon the hill-side,
With its memories so dear,
That ne’er can be forgotten
In this world or Beyond.
We therefore make obeisance
To this church upon the hill,
And wish it Godspeed
The “Old church, O the Old Church”
O may you ever be a light,
A beacon light
Of the Great Jehovah,
To all those within your bounds,
And ever be
His Temple on the hill.
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