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HO

-PE

Serving the Lord For Over 100 Years

It is hard to believe that we have been around for 100 years. We have one of the most beautiful churches around this area and the dedicated people to keep it this way. The Westover United Methodist Church has been our Christian home for many important years in our lives. It is a friendly church and always receptive to new members. We are fortunate because we have many talented members. The past 100 years have been full of excitement and change. We look forward to serving God with our time, talents and treasures for many years to come. 

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Until 1902, Westover was a part of a district compromising eight square miles of the most populous and wealthy part of Monongalia County. This are was rich in coal, gas, oil and other minerals. Yet up to this time, this territory contained not one church edifice of any denomination.

In 1904, Mrs. N. E. Shaffer Negan a Sunday school on the Westover side of the Monongalia River. It was called "The Union Sabbath School" because it was made up of so many denominations. It was held in a public school.

When it reached an attendance of 150, the Methodist Conference, seeing a great opportunity, sent Rev. C. B. Meredith who held many revivals and got a successful group going. A Ladies Aid Society was formed and they were on their way, but still no church.

They were given permission to build a church on our current parsonage lot. As the foundation stones were assembled, an opposing group was organized and secured a court injunction. When Mr. Nathan Shaffer went to work on the church, he was arrested. A law suit followed that eventually ended up in the Supreme Court. The Court's decision was in favor of the Westover class. By the time the suit was settled, the congregation was not interested, so the building was delayed. 

Several ministries were assigned to the Westover class from 1912 to 1920. In 1920, Rev. Perkins managed to pay some money toward buying the old school building where they were having their meetings. The building cost $2,500 and was located on the lot across the street from where our church now stands. 

From 1920 to 1922, no more money was paid, but a new minister, Rev. James Schultz, was appointed to the Monongalia Charge. Thirty-five people were members on the church records, but only 12 to 15 were active. They still owed $1,200 on the building, but the minister had faith in this group. In January 1923 he held a revival and encouraged the people to finish paying for the building. This was accomplished in April 1923.

Rev. Schultz eventually saw the need for a larger church. the population in Westover was nearly one thousand, and the building only seated 75 people. He proposed a larger church building. Several meetings were held to discuss plans and designs for a new church that would seat at least 200 worshippers. Plans were accepted and on April 11, a meeting was held by the Board of Trustees to appoint a building committee. This group met with a contractor, E. Reese Baker, to draw up specifications. The estimate was $35,300 

On May 11, another committee was appointed to sell the old building and secure a building permit. On May 17, the old and lot were exchanged with Noah Moore for the lot where Westover United Methodist Church now stands. The contract for this transaction was signed on May 19. On that same day, stakes were set for the new church building. Because of disagreements with one of the church members who was on the bank board, the loan was not granted. Stonewalled again, but not giving up, in April 1924 a new board member was bale to persuade five of the six banks in Morgantown to lend a total of $22,500 with a deed of trust.

On May 4, 1924, grading began. The church was completed and dedicated on Sunday, July 6, 1924, with Bishop Joseph Berry officiating. An additional $14,000 was raised and pledged at the dedication. It was described as a "faith project!" Total cost of the church and parsonage was $58,000, but when everything was done, it was valued at $70,000. Dedication named the Church, Westover Methodist Episcopal Church, but for the purpose of soliciting funds, they called it the Community Church and money was subscribed in that manner. 

They had another revival in 1924 and received some new members to help pay the debt for the church. It turned out to be a 25-year struggle to finish paying the debt. With the transfer of ministers, the members became discouraged. The Rev. Job Jones was optimistic and held three successful revivals and doubled the church membership. The debt was $51,000, so in May 1926, there was a financial campaign to raise $25,000. This campaign resulted in more than $25,000 in pledges and cash.

On January 1, 1928 the church applied to the State Board if Education for a $40,000 bond issue. They were able to pay off the bank note, and the indebtedness of the church was placed on a 20-year basis.

With the interest of the Westover Church in mind, on February 23, 1930, Rev. Jones began broadcasting on radio station WMMN in Fairmont. This program brought in hundreds of dollars. Rev. Jones should always be remembered for his faithful labors for the six years he served the church.

On October 1, 1932, Rev. jones was appointed to the Highland Avenue Church in Fairmont, but he continued to keep in touch with Westover United Methodist Church. As he aged, he spent his last few years at Sundale Rest Home in Morgantown where he died on June 28, 1958. His funeral was held in Westover Church with Rev. W. J. Kerr and a number of local ministers officiating. 

On Sunday June 27, 1948, a "Bond Burning Jubilee" was held. The celebration was a glowing event. This must have been a great day for the new minister, Rev. O'Neill (who served from 1944-1953), the officers, and the congregation to finally see the end of the financial struggle after paying off the full loan of the church. With the money left over, the trustees redecorated the sanctuary and built a complete floor for the junior department. In addition, the Women's Society put new carpet in the sanctuary.   

On Sunday, April 2, 1944, Mrs. Edmond Collins organized the Youth Sanctuary Choir. The choirs have made a great contribution to the worship services ever since.

At the Conference in Buckhannon on June 1, 1953, after nine years of faithful service to our church, Rev. O'Neill was assigned to St. Mary's Methodist Church. The Rev. William J. Ker was assigned to Westover Church. We have made steady progress since then. The Rev. W. J. Kerr and his family came to Westover Church in June 1953 and were with us for eleven years. The congregation enrollment was around 150 for church school and 200 for worship service. Rev. Kerr brought to the different ages a talent for teaching the Bible and the ability to provide music as well. The Kerr family was an integral part in every facet of church life. Even though the parsonage needed many repairs, they told the church to wait until they retired to Farmington, West Virginia.

 

One of our outstanding accomplishments was the purchase of an electric "Two Manual Wurlitzer Organ" priced at $4,700. The organ fund was launched on Sunday, March 21, 1954, and on that day $954 was contributed in pledges and cash. The service of dedication was on November 5, 1955, which included an organ dedication recital.

Again the interest in music was demonstrated when on January 25, 1957, at a "Choir Robe Sunday Service," $600 was presented to Mrs. Eleanor Collins for the purchase of 30 beautiful light blue robes for the choir. At this time the choir was compromised of many young boys and girls.

In the autumn of 1958, the church kitchen was installed for $3,200. The cabinets were constructed of birch wood with all sliding doors. It was considered the finest kitchen in the district.

"The History and World of the Methodist" was a program required for the children. This program helped them to understand the meaning of baptism, being born again, and membership in the body of Christ.

Rev. Kerr made weekly visits throughout the community. Home visitations were also made by membership and evangelism teams and reached as many as 200 homes. Bible study was on Wednesday evenings, and worship services were also held on Sunday evenings.

In 1962, the chancel area was changed to the way it is now. The wooden cross was made by Mr. Robert Fox and the dossel curtain was bought by donations of $469, Buseman and Kennell painted the wall and ceiling for $920. Electrical work was done by Ralph Clear for $249. In may of 1963, the sanctuary was carpeted by Sanders Floor Coverings for $3,000 and the chimes were given in memory of David Cain for $1,752.

The United Methodist Men began having their delicious bean dinners in 1959. The proceeds from these dinners help them to accomplish many projects: the original oak doors on North Street were replaced with stainless steel doors in 1970, stairs to the second floor were covered, and the vestibule floor was also covered in 1979.

In 1966, 100 new hymnals were given in memory of James Crockett. At this time, Mrs. 
John Lough resigned as church treasurer after 34 years of service.

On January 14, 1973, a celebration-of-bond-burning was held with Rev. Ramsey Bridges, District Superintendent, officiating. But in a few short months, a defective wall on Highland Avenue side of the church showed signs of buckling--believed caused by the weight of the slate roof and deteriorating crossbeams and trusses. We then had to move to the Westover Fire Hall for all services. 

in 1974 and 1975, a new experience was introduced in lay witnessing. This began as new reconciliation and Bible study. This fellowship intermingled with all age groups and met in the home of Nancy Cain and other leaders. Bible school was held as it had been for many previous years and was attended by children of all denominations. One hundred Bibles were placed in the pews by members of the congregation so there could be responsive readings on Sundays.

At the 1978 Annual Conference, Rev Wilson was reassigned to the Guyandotte Charge in Huntington. Rev. Charles Potts and his wife, Mary, came to Westover. The parsonage was recarpeted, and Mary brought more beauty to it with her decorating and beautiful flowers. The original cement steps to the Highland ave entrance had to be replaced as the old ones had begun to draw away from the building.

The year 1981, was a very busy and blessed year for our Church. Renovation of the second and third floors had begun- new ceilings, painting, and carpeting. Many gifts were donated: a kneeling bench, new sound system, memorial table, speakers' podium, carpeting, kitchen flor, commercial dishwasher, and tables and chairs. Other items were added to the Church's inventory: stove, range hood, exhaust fan, registration table, coat rack, baby gran piano, communion bread trays and linen napkins, brass Bible missal stand, nylon American flag, and paraments in white, green, red, and maroon. On August 27, a fire occurred in the prayer room. major damage was done to the piano. The insurance company took care of all damages. 

In 1982, the stained glass windows needed repairs and protection against the elements, Mr. John Phillips of Pennsylvania repaired the lead and covered the large windows with Lexan. He recommended storm windows be placed on the rest of the building. the estimated cost was $6,835. john Bowers took on the task of raising the funds. Through his efforts, the money was donated in full to compete the project with funds left over. John dedicated his life to this task. 

In the fall of 1982, Gary and Nancy Cain presented the church with five ceiling fans for the sanctuary and provided an electrician who had the help of Glenn Newbraugh and Ed Rancjik.

The Church participated in the intergenerational UNICEF Halloween drive that brought all age groups together collecting money for starving children. 

A new outdoor illuminated colonial sign was erected to replace the original sign that was 50 years old/ It was placed on order in October 1985 and received in January 1986. A new brick base was built. Total cost of the sign was $3,020.

In 1987, Rev. Michael Ognibene and the United Methodist Men began a tape ministry for shut-ins by recording the worship service each Sunday. The following week, the Methodist Men or Methodist Women delivered these to the homes. Rev. Ognibene was appointed coordinator of the West parish. To free him for this position, the Church hired a part-time secretary.

In 1988, 200 new hymnals were purchased in memory and in honor of loved ones. New programs were added for the children and youth. The children's sermon and children's church were established and twice a month an activity was planned such as swimming, bowling, etc. Physical fitness was offered twice a week. The Church began sponsoring many scout groups. A nursery was established and a well-attended Vacation bible School was started under the leadership of Debbie Koon.

The United Methodist Women were busy with mission work: furnished one room at Ronald McDonald House; worked Red Cross blood mobiles; prepared kits for migrant workers; collected paper products for Rape and Domestic Violence; collected baby clothing and food for Scott's Run Settlement House; and sent money for missionary work around the world. The Church began serving the homeless at the Salvation Army every Thursday. This continues on today.

Pastor Ruth seemed to enjoy all facets of her appointment to our church, and she brought many new and innovative programs to us. One was visiting the stations of the basins and ending with the Lord's Supper in which there were only 12 members and at the head of the table was a chair covered in white cloth for Jesus. This brought a different meaning of communion to many of us. 

Another program was the "Hanging of the Greens" with the explanation of what each part o the program meant to the church and its relationship with Jesus. A couple of years prior to this, some young ladies led by Debbie Sullz crossed stitched Chrismon and framed them for our Christmas tree and they have been used every year since. 

The Trustee's work nights have been unbelievable in what they do and have accomplished. The important ones were repairing the bell tower and cleaning the ceiling and walls of the sanctuary

Dorothy Cain and Peggy Fleming continued visiting members on and after their 90th birthdays with a cake or flowers and this has continued through the years.

Bible school was held with about 45 young children and led by Debbie Koon with many youth and adults helping. 

The nursery was organized by Cleo Hewett with volunteers each Sunday. An inter-com system was installed so the volunteers could hear the worship in the sanctuary.

All usual services were held during Lent with Easter being the climax. The youth did sunrise service, the United Methodist Men served breakfast, Sunday School followed, and then the Easter Worship Service with the cantata. 

A conformation class and a children's acolyte class were formed. We purchased four goats and one flock of chickens for the Heifer Project and continued to support the Scott's Run Settlement House. We participated in furnishing meals for the Caritas House AIDS program. 

As we journeyed into 1998, we ere on firmer footing financially even though the budget was increased to $97,000. There was a surplus in 1998 of $14,500 to start our new year. Three thousand dollars had been donated for new carpeting in Fellowship Hall. Julia Zay prepared a new membership roster and placed the data on the office computer. 

The Sea Scouts received the Spurgeon Award for the first time in the Mountaineer Area Council that covers four counties. 

The Church obtained a license to copy music. It was registered as a Red Cross shelter in case of disaster. the Trustees worked in the parsonage with carpet, tile, and paint. They also refinished the pews in the sanctuary. 

Rev. Simms entered into 2001 with the theme "Come Walk With Us" and this continues to be our theme. Our attendance had dropped considerably and this was our goal of bringing more people into the church.

A new electric sign was erected on Holland Avenue, large enough to hold meeting dates/times and messages. The Friend Family agreed to pay for the sign in memory of Elizabeth Friend. 

The Nurture Team continued its offerings of funeral dinners, gifts to members over ninety years if age, Thanksgiving ingathering, craft classes (led by June Pogge to make items for a bazaar in November to raise money), and gave gifts to graduating seniors. Subs were still being sold and pecan pies were baked and sold to raise money.  

A Homecoming Committee was formed to begin planning for the Westover Church's 100-years celebration in October 2004.
 

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