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  • Rev. Bradford G. Olson

"Dreams" a brief history of the Loveland United Methodist Church

As I was working on the message for this Sunday, I ran across a file in my office that is called "Dreams of past congregations as recorded in the history of the Loveland United Methodist Church" by Kathryn Undercoffer. It is dated October, 2002. It says:

The Loveland United Methodist Church, as it is known today, evolved through the years from the dreams, prayers, and labors of its congregants. Just as the name evolved - first, as The Loveland Methodist Church, The Loveland Methodist Episcopal church, The Loveland Methodist Church again, and presently The Loveland United Methodist Church, the places of worship have also evolved.

As the settlers arrived in this section of the Little Miami River Valley, they brought with them their love of God and the need to meet together in His worship and in the study of the Bible. As early as 1798 they met at the home of Colonel Thomas Paxton, who is recorded as the settler of Loveland in 1796, and then in an old school house located on East Broadway, site of the original St. Columban Catholic Church (hillside on the south side of the street below the red brick building which formerly was one of the Loveland public schools and is now occupied by a church).

The roots of our church go back to the teaching so the early Methodist circuit riders who came to this pioneer locality for some 50 years before a tangible church was built in Loveland or the people divided into denominations. One such circuit rider was Uriah M. Heath, father of Civil War General Thomas T. Heath, who had built a home in the Loveland area. Under the elder Heath's guidance, The Loveland Methodist Church was organized in 1853. The General provided a meeting place in a log hut near the Heath's original stone house, which was located on a mound on the east side of the present Route 48 opposite the Loveland Health Care Center. The original Heath house is still standing and was occupied for a number of years by the Rump family. A young couple presently owns it and opened it for the recent House Tour of The Greater Loveland Historical Society.

As the little group increased in number and divided into Presbyterian and Methodist Churches, services were moved to the third floor, Lyceum Hall, of the red brick building still located on the northwest corner of Broadway and Railroad Avenue in Loveland (opposite Nisbet's). the building had been constructed in 1854 by Larwin DeGolyer. This location was shared with the Presbyterians, each congregation meeting on alternate Sundays.

the Methodists continued worshipping there until the Presbyterians build their church on third Avenue in Loveland in 1859. (the building is now occupied by the Loveland Church of God.) The Methodists then moved their place of worship to this locale, again with each group meeting on alternate Sundays.

Loveland at this time was located only on the east bank of the Little Miami river; and there existed only one vacant plot of land used by John Shorten for his garden. The dream of this early Loveland Methodist congregation was realized when he agreed to sell this lot for $700 with $100 of this price as a donation if a church building was built thereon within a year. Faced with this deadline, a two-story frame Church was completed in 1868 on Railroad Ave at the entrance to the present Nisbet Park. However, this location had many drawbacks such as periodic flooding and the dirt and noise of passing trains, especially when a train's whistle interrupted church service or came at an inappropriate time in the pastor's sermon.

About this time, the land on the west side of the Little Miami river was being developed into home sites. The developers, Dr. N. W. Bishop and his son, Dr. Lucius Bishop, aware of the Methodist's problems, offered the congregation a lot on the west side of the river for $500. After much prayerful consideration, 30 church members subscribed this cost in amounts from $5 to $100. An early church history recalls, "this new church represented the faith and endless energy of Reverend E. S. Gaddis, and the building was accomplished through volunteer efforts of carpenters, masons, painters, plasterers associated directly or indirectly with the membership of the church, together with those who were paid for its construction." It was consecrated on January 13, 1901. This was and is the frame church located on the north side of West Loveland Avenue now occupied by the Hope Baptist Church.

In spite of my gray hair, I wasn't present at the dedication of this church in 1901. However, as Church Historian, it has ben my privilege to work on collecting artifacts and data of the Loveland United Methodist Church and to briefly impart details to our heritage to you.

As you know, the Loveland United Methodist Church is not an endowed church. Its members have always labored together for the glory of God and for their church. As I have compiled the membership rolls through the years, so many faces come vividly to mind as remembered form the days when I first came to Loveland as a bride in 1941. They are remembered, as one day you will be remembered, as the movers and shakers of the congregation.

Reading the condensed minutes of the women's societies starting with October 6, 1899, as painstakingly recorded by Norma Williams, bob Williams' mother, it is most evident how involved the ladies of the church were in raising money for the church. You think we had had it rough - these woman gave suppers by cooking on oil stoves in what was known as the Philathea Sunday School room and "packing in water" from two faucets - one in the basement and one outside. Tables were set up in Echo Hall on the first floor and after 1923 in the basement social rooms. They made sunbonnets, sweeping caps, and aprons to sell. Anything they could do they did for the enrichment of the physical and spiritual church.

However, succeeding congregations continued to dream and each succeeding dream became reality with the prayers and labors of the members:

- A parsonage was built facing Park Avenue in back of the church in 1916.

- The basement was excavated under the church building and finished for Sunday School and social rooms in 1923.

- A pipe organ was bought and dedicated March 19, 1939.

- Property fronting on Riverside Drive and handy to the church via Cross Alley was purchased in 1960.l It was known as the Children's Church.

- In 1964 the Rhinehardt property located on the west side of the church was bought, subsequently razed, and the site became a parking lot.

- The yellow brick Educational Building was erected on the rear of the church lot. It was consecrated on July 10, 1966.

- Extensive remodeling of the nave and sanctuary occurred during 1973-74.

- A new parsonage at 1855 Lindenhall Drive was purchased in 1977.

And then it was time for another dream! A Long-Range Planning Committee was organized to study the needs of the church facilities and the uses of the building in years to come. Its first meeting was August 31, 1987 and continued meeting until the end of 1988.

The Building Committee which followed was instrumental in all phases of the construction of the present Loveland United Methodist Church dedicated in November 1994. Through the yeas the Loveland United Methodist Church has served the citizens of the community well. A local branch of the Hamilton County Public Library was introduced to the community in the old church basement on West Loveland Avenue, and desperately need classroom apace was provided for the public school system at one time. Further, a Loveland Head Start Program found its first home in the church; and a valuable Food Co-op was in place for 10 years with Bernie Parker heading the operation even at one point after just having broken her nose. The Loveland United Methodist Church continues to work for the betterment of the community, and continues to be known for its extensive involvement in local charities and in the missiion field.

From the above, it is evident that the members of the Loveland United Methodist Church, from its founding to the present day, have had many dreams for their church. It is to their everlasting credit that with their faith in the Lord and with their labors, the dream have been manifested. Now, as we members have a responsibility to pass on that heritage of faith evidenced throughout almost 150 years of history of the Loveland United Methodist Church and to continue to dream for future congregations.

Kathryn Undercoffer, Octoer 2002.

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