On November 13, 1834, five men and nine women gathered together for the purpose of organizing a Presbyterian Church in Perrysburg. The names of Brown, Williams, Smith, Scott, McBride, Fowler, Wood, Loper, Nye, Spafford, Dustin and Sloan were recorded. Under the leadership of the Rev. Joseph Badger and Rev. Isaac Van Tassel, who in 1822 had been sent by The Western Missionary Society to establish the mission school for the Indians along the Maumee River near Tontogany, the Perrysburg church was established as part of the Huron Presbytery, two years later the Maumee Presbytery when it was formed.
We can only imagine the hardships of those pioneers. Many of them remembered the price paid to establish this area as American. In 1794 Anthony Wayne’s victory at Fallen Timbers led to the end of native Indian life here. In 1775 the American Revolution had energized the Indian determination to preserve these lands as their home forever, but when they and British allies were defeated, the natives remained alone until the return of the British to fight in the War of 1812. A future president, William H. Harrison, saved our American future with the construction and defense of Fort Meigs. Blood was shed in a horrible massacre of American troops. Actually, the locale of one major battle intended to spike British cannon located along the ravine in FortMeigs cemetery extended along the ravine into present city lots along West Second Street. Those very cannon emplacements still exist as earth mounded areas in the cemetery. Later victories by Harrison and Oliver Hazard Perry led to the end of hostilities.
A few early pioneers had settled on the site which became Maumee, as well as on the south side of the river, on what today we call the flats. They named it Orleans of the North. During the war they fled for safety to Huron County. Families returned only to be driven out by a great flood in 1818. Most moved to high ground in Maumee. In 1837 the Maumee Presbytery listed 36 members in Perrysburg and 40 in Maumee.
The year 1835 was the year that war came back to Perrysburg in the form of the Ohio-Michigan War over ownership of Toledo. Recruits were secured in Perrysburg. That same year by order of the Ohio legislature, Perrysburg was resurveyed because the original town survey of 1816, as primitive as it was, incorrectly established lot lines and boundaries. There is some irony to know that the 1835 survey had some now known deficiencies as well.
When the wars ended more pioneers began to arrive and so did our religious leaders. The circuit riders from Oberlin College, serving Presbyterian and Congregational ministries, came to newly established congregations. Rev. Stephen L. Bradstreet was probably our first pastor as he was authorized to perform marriages in 1835. Other supply ministers came from Oberlin. Mr. J.H.Newton served from 1849 to 1856. The Rev. George Adams, an Oberlin College graduate had served several years in Rockville, Indiana but aroused intense opposition on account of his uncompromising hostility to slavery. He then served a year in Willoughby, Ohio before coming to Perrysburg in 1856. Perrysburg was known as a link in the underground railroad with the Perrysburg Journal building a “station” where fugitive slaves would be hidden until transported north. (The newspaper office was located where Hood Park is today.) Rev. Adams’ strong opinions, which he did not hesitate to express, no doubt influenced the anti-slavery movement in Perrysburg.
The congregation met in the old brick school on the northwest corner of Walnut and Second Streets and purchased the site for a future church building. Later however, they purchased the land at Louisiana and Indiana where Way Library stands today, and sold the Walnut Street property to W.H. Hollenbeck for his carriage works and blacksmith shop. From 1856 to 1860 the old Universalist Church on the west side of Elm Street north of Front Street was used by the Presbyterians for a place of worship while they made plans for a new church building on the Louisiana Street site.
But it was the agony of disease that came to these early settlers in 1854 that touches our hearts to this day. The cause of that dreaded plague known as cholera was unknown. To understand the extent and importance of this tragedy consider Perrysburg population figures from the United States Bureau of the Census. In 1830 the beginning population was reported to be 182; in 1850 it had increased to 1,779. Then, the population in 1860 reduced to 1,494, a loss of 285 persons. The words of the editor of The Perrysburg Journal datedAugust 12, 1854 and again August 19, 1854 records just a hint of the scope of the tragedy.
August 12, 1854 “It is four weeks to-day since the last number of The Perrysburg Journal was issued. Up to that time we tried to believe that the worst phase of the cholera had been reached, but each succeeding week brought greater numbers of victims….this paper ….suspended publication, both from choice and necessity. Hands could not be employed to work when everybody else who could leave was deserting the town, nor did it seem desirable to work much when death was decimating our numbers……The following is as nearly a complete list of the deaths…..” Here the editor lists over a hundred names.
August 19, 1854 “APOLOGY—– prolonged sickness and death in our family must be our excuse for want of proper attention to our paper. We find it hard to cater for the public when full of anguish for the loved and lost. The following deaths have occurred in Perrysburg during the last week, mostly but not all of cholera:…” Then he lists more persons that have died.
In an advertisement in The Perrysburg Journal in 1859 Peter Witzler, furniture maker, along with his tables, chairs, bookcases and bureaus, lists “Coffins – A narrow house for the dead can be furnished to order in good style and also a HEARSE at reasonable charges.” He must have been very busy during the epidemic. His business evolved into a funeral home.
According to the 1860 census, the population of Perrysburg had been reduced by nearly 300 people to only 1,494. The decrease was due largely to the devastating effects of the cholera epidemic of 1854 as reported in our first 25-year history (1834 – 1859). Under the strong leadership of the Rev. George Adams, the Perrysburg Presbyterians in 1860, built a large brick church, complete with bell tower, on the northeast corner of Louisiana and Indiana Avenues. The same siite where the Way Public Library stands today.
Reverend Adams was very active in the community besides shepherding his flock of Presbyterians. He became Master Mason of Phoenix Lodge and served as chaplain. He was also a member of the Maumee Valley Pioneer Association. They reported that they held him in high regard because, “when death visited the households of any in our vicinity, regardless of age, sex, color, nationality, or whether of high or low degree, were his services desired to officiate, and speak those words of comfort and consolation, which are so acceptable on such occasions, we were assured he would be there, Providence permitting.” Adams was an earnest worker as chairman of The Committee on Temperance in the Maumee Presbytery. “Father Adams was known, loved and respected by people throughout Northwestern Ohio,” according to The Wood County Democrat at the time of his death in 1903.
Such a leader and compassionate man as Adams surely was needed during the tragedy of the Civil War, with hundreds of Perrysburg area men enlisting. The beautiful new church must have been a haven for many anxious and grieving people who needed spiritual help during those dark days, as reports of dead and wounded were received. But many ministers were called to duty as chaplains, including Rev. Adams, who was absent from his congregation for 18 months while serving the 13th Ohio Cavalry. Lay leaders were needed to take his place, but they were also scarce. Adams himself was struck with tragedy when his wife Mary Emily died in 1862 leaving him with six children. He was called to duty in 1863 and when he returned from military service was ill with fever for several weeks.
Following the war, the village and the church began to return to normal and even prosper. However, on October 14, 1875 a fire of suspicious origin destroyed the 15-year-old church with a loss around $10,000. Only the organ and some furniture were saved. For three months the congregation rented the abandoned Baptist Church building on the east side of Walnut Street near Third Street. When the Centennial Building at Louisiana and Front Street ( west side) was completed in December, 1885 the Presbyterians used the large second floor hall for their services.
Disagreements arose in the church and 27 members withdrew to create a second Presbyterian Church in 1879. That same year Rev. Adams’ second wife died leaving two children. They had been married 12 years. The separated group returned to the old Baptist Church building and called themselves the Walnut Street Presbyterian Church. (They disbanded around 1900.) Despite his personal troubles and discord in his congregation Rev. Adams was steadfast and the congregation held together.
Although Perrysburg lost the county seat to Bowling Greenin 1870, its population grew to almost 2,000 by 1880. A massive effort to drain the Black Swamp was taking place, and the whole county became a rich agricultural region. Transportation became less difficult with the construction of many new roads.. The Presbyterians were growing in number also, and plans were being made for a new church building.
In the mid 1880’s the Congregation of First Presbyterian Church was worshiping in the Centennial Building on the west corner of Louisiana and Front Street. Rev. George A. Adams continued to serve the congregation (since 1856) and under his leadership the congregation began to plan for a new building. Land was acquired at East Second and Elm and the architect Charles Sturgiss was hired to design the new church. Little is known about Mr. Sturgiss, although a Charles Sturgiss was listed as an elder in a Fort Wayne Presbyterian Church during this same time frame. Upon further research, several publications from New York show drawings for church buildings similar to ours published in the 1870’s. So, it is possible the concept of our building came from one of these publications.
The church’s design is Gothic Stick Style or sometimes referred to as Carpenter Gothic. The building is listed on the National Registry of Historic Buildings and is listed as the best example of this style remaining in Ohio. The original cost of the building in 1892 was $5, 186.33.
The building retains the excellent stick timbering in the sheltered entryway on East Second Street, in the bell tower and above the side portico. This timbering in the bell tower and in the porticos form gothic arches which is where the name Gothic Stick Style originated. Early photographs of the church show the original horizontal and vertical boards in the gables and the curved boards which decorated the windows. This “sticking” was an integral part of the original architecture. The steeply pitched gabled roofline is also reminiscent of the Gothic Style of many European cathedrals. The Gothic Stick Style was a transitional style between the Gothic Revival style and the subsequent Queen Anne style. Many of the homes on East Second Street represent the Queen Anne Style.
The interior of the church had a frescoed cathedral ceiling supported by curved rafters. The flying curvilinear rafters are still a major feature of the sanctuary. Another important design feature of the sanctuary is the 14 foot long stained glass window of a cross with an arch window above it featuring medallion circles. Hand blown Reamy glass is used for the windows because of the wonderful colors that could be created and, due to its thin cross section, the amount of light that it allowed to filter in. In addition to the large window in the sanctuary other original windows are found in the gable along Elm Street and were in the original stairway to the second floor off the Elm Street entrance. (One of these windows was recently refurbished and installed in the first floor hall way.)
The sanctuary originally had oak pews and there was a large glass paneled door that separated the sanctuary from the room to the south side that could be opened for additional seating. One source sites that this original door still exists hidden in the current wall. What a wonderful new building greeted the members of First Presbyterian at the dedication on May 15, 1892. St. Rose church held the first mass in their new building just two weeks later. George Adams remained our pastor until 1903. His tenure saw prominent members of the community as members including: the Powers Family (early retailers), The Way Family (lawyer and former Mayor), the Hoover family (hoop factory owners), the Main Family (a classmate of Andrew Carnegie who often visited Main) and the Cook Family( a prominent state and national politician). Rev. Adams’ notes with assigned pews for the new building show these members as well as more than 40 other family names. In 1904 Rev. George Lowry became pastor. In 1905 the church built the manse which was used by Rev. Lowry and his family. The City of Perrysburg saw much economic growth at the turn of the century. William Witzler’s electric power plant started, the first water system came into service, the “pictures” came to town, and the first auto dealership was established. The population census of 1890 lists 1,747 people and the census of 1910 showed ten percent growth.
In the early 1900’s First Presbyterian Church continued to grow under the leadership of Rev. George Lowery who was the Minister from 1904-1914. The Minister from 1914-1928 was William H. Pheley. Rev. Miles Snyder served from 1929-1932. A large capital campaign allowed the church to build a manse in 1905 east of the church on East Second Street. This was used as a manse through 1959.
A statewide blizzard hit the area on January 12, 1918. This storm was compared to the New Year’s Blizzard of 1864 and was not matched in Ohio until the Blizzard of 1978. The blizzard of 1918 came during a winter of bitter cold and deep snow. It was referred to as an old fashioned winter as it resembled the winters of the nineteenth century.
Temperatures fell from 30 degrees to -15 degrees in eight hours. Winds averaged 30 to 50 mph all day and gusted over 60 mph. This was the coldest day in memory for most in Perrysburg. New snowfall reported to be about 15 inches but drifts of 10 to 15 feet covered homes, vehicles and trains. Churches pitched in to help in any way possible. First Presbyterian records show that donations to Red Cross and local missions topped $400.00 that year; this was two- thirds of the annual mission budget for that year.
1918 was also a memorable year due to the world-wide outbreak of Spanish Influenza. The worst of the 1918 flu in Ohio appears to have lasted two-three months. Here are some snippets from Blade articles and headlines in the fall of 1918 show the dramatic acceleration of the flu problem in Toledo and highlight the actions local authorities had to take in their attempts to fight the sickness:
Oct. 12: “Mayor Schreiber said that the influenza situation so far does not indicate the necessity of banning every public and social activity.”
Oct. 14: “Public, private and parochial schools and libraries, theaters, churches, Sunday schools, pool rooms, billiard halls, dance halls, soda fountains, soft drink parlors, and saloons will be closed indefinitely to stamp out the influenza epidemic.”
Oct. 22: Seventeen die of influenza. Five saloonists nabbed for violating no-sale rules.
Oct. 23: Thirty-two more people die in Toledo from the flu, bringing the death toll to 118. The city sends a doctor to the Mayo Brothers hospital in Rochester, Minn., to bring back some “serum” it hopes will fight the flu. Toledo becomes the only city in the world – other than Rochester – to experiment with the serum.
Nov. 1: Schools and some other locations gradually reopen. “Health Conditions Improve City Officials Warn Against Drunken Revels.” The city reports 3,152 cases of flu, and 277 deaths since the outbreak began.
Dec. 10: With absentee rates at 18 percent, city officials decide to close all schools again because flu cases increase. Children under 18, for their own protection, are banned from school, movies, theaters, libraries, and the Museum of Art.
Dec. 12: City officials ask the U.S. secretary of war to allow 20 Toledo physicians to return to Toledo from an Army training camp so the doctors can help fight the flu. The secretary turns down the request. New flu regulations are issued citywide, including orders to keep windows on all street cars open to allow proper “ventilation.”
14,986 Ohioans died of the influenza. Nationwide, more than 550,000 people died of the influenza in 1918. “The flu in 1918 was probably the worst public health catastrophe we’ve ever faced, with 50 million people [worldwide] dying.” That means 2 percent of the people worldwide who got the 1918 flu strain eventually died. Church records indicate several deaths in the congregation during this year but it is difficult to ascertain if they were a direct result of the epidemic.
In 1922 the basement of the church was converted into a kitchen and a large dining room. Many a church dinner was served from this kitchen. The minutes of the Women’s Circle , the Dorcas Society, indicate that a banquet for 150 was served in May at the cost of 75 cents a plate. A Bazaar Supper on December 11, 1923 included church and community members with over 400 people in attendance. The menu included homemade chicken, dressing, cabbage salad, biscuits and a variety of donated pies. This kitchen was in active use for over 35 years.
In 1922 a bay was added to the sanctuary to hold a new pipe organ. This was a major purchase for the church. The Dorcas Society paid $546.78 for the organ in 1923.
In 1926-1927 Session records indicate membership roles over 230 members. Many influential Perrysburg names were listed. Some families that were active at this time include the Roose, Averill, Brown, T.Kruse., McKnight, Webb and Witzler families.
Church records indicate an active Sunday School program and many Women’s mission programs even throughout the depression. Membership continued to grow and the Church was a vital part of Perrysburg during the early 1930’s offering community mission projects, bazaars and community dinners.
In 1934 First Presbyterian Church and the nation found themselves in the grip of the Great Depression. Franklin Roosevelt had just become president of the United States a year earlier. In March of 1934 First Presbyterian Church had collected $99.22 for the month with expenditures of $61.39 and would use the balance towards paying off a bank debt of $100.00.
Once that bank loan was paid off in 1935 we went and replaced our roof. The cost of the roof, labor, flashing and gutters was $400.00. In 2009 we just had a new roof put on over our Fellowship Hall addition for approximately $9000.00. Prices have changed in 74 years! We not only replaced the roof in 1935 but also spent an additional $2100.00 to cement our furnace room floor, add a men’s restroom, panel and cover up the old side wall in our auditorium, and paint the Sunday school rooms, side stairway and church. Two coats of “lead” paint and one coat of oil paint where called for on the quote. Fortunately we have scraped off this lead paint and repainted many times with oil or latex since then.
We were helped out with this expense by $500.00 from Minnie Bleu’s estate. The other people receiving money from this estate were the Toledo Humane Society and the “Old Ladies Home” of Toledo, Ohio. Somehow I can’t see that last name being used today. Although we did give our March 1st, 1943 collection to the “Old Peoples” Home inSydney,Ohio. The church felt it was their duty to make the lives of these people comfortable and happy for their remaining years. This was approved at the same time as the approval of building a church nursery.
In 1942 a pulpit committee was formed to find a pastor to replace Dr. Charles Brown and Reverend George Mace was chosen. Reverend Mace presided over our church during World War II until 1949. A few of the individuals on our Board of Trustees in 1943 were Norm Witzler, Gary Smith, Fred Averill and C.C. Leydorf.
In 1944 the Women’s Missionary Society and the Dorcas Society were combined to form the Women’s Association. This organization still does many wonderful things to benefit our church, the Perrysburg community and mission. You may remember their twice a year rummage sales that used to bring a number of people “shopping” at the church.
It was noted in the 1946 Annual report that the trustees were given a real lift when Maumee Valley School asked to operate a Day School program for nursery and kindergarten children. We still have a pre-school in our basement called “Kids World.” A new pastor, C. Sheldon Hastings, arrived in 1950 and continued his ministry until 1959.
The original Presbyterian Church of Perrysburg was a part of the National Presbyterian Church,USA which in 1948 united with another group to form the United Presbyterian Church,USA. At our 1952 Congregational meeting it was a motion was made and voted on to change our own local form of government to the “Unicarmal” Plan of governing our church. This would replace the three boards (Board of Trustees, Board of Elders and Board of Deacons) that had governed our church with one body (the Session) consisting of 15 members. This form of government is what we still use for our current governing body but with 12 members now.
Since I was born in November of 1951 I was very interested to see what the minutes from that month’s session meeting said. Mr. Green announced that the building committee was ready to present plans to the Congregation for the remodeling of our Sanctuary and the Chancel. This was approved and the pews were replaced to make it appear a little lighter than it had been before. A large glass paneled door was installed separating the room to the south side which is currently used for meetings and the sanctuary. This door could slide open for additional seating. These interior changes were accomplished for the cost of $18,870.00.
Some of the members the Session were John Hayden, Bob Lutz, Earl Witzler and John Suter. The budget for 1952 was $5685.00 to cover the minister’s salary, music department budget, youth activities, Christian Education, Pensions and Special expenses. In addition Operations and Maintenance had a budget of $4495.00 and Benevolence of $1000.00. I also noted that the Women’s association projects included among other things, shirts sent to a Leper colony, 12 surgical gowns to Toledo Presbyterian society and boxes of clothing to Africa, Korea and Kentucky.
In the minutes from the 1958 Congregational meeting it indicated that we had made a movie to show the progress, growth and activities of First Presbyterian Church. The Outreach Committee was working because the congregation increased from approximately 192 in 1948 to 336 in 1958. There were 25 infant and adult baptisms. Monthly social meetings were held at various member’s homes and included such topics as “Religion in Business” given by Waldo Yaeger and Joseph Franc spoke of the “European Situation.” During this period quite a few members of our current congregation were baptized including Earl Witzler, Jack Simmons, Kathy Nesper Celley, and Doris Thornton Incledon.
The 1960 census showed Perrysburg had a population of 5,519, so it became a city under the home rule charter which was approved in November of 1960 and took effect in January, 1961. This meant a 1% income tax was assessed – in effect until it was increased to 1.5% in 1968. A Master Plan was also adopted in 1960.
In the spring of 1961 the Devine Word Seminary on the West River Road was dedicated. This was a four building complex designed to accommodate 175 boys for their 4 years of high school. These young men planned to enter the priesthood as missionaries. The summer of ’61 saw local garden clubs and the city of Perrysburg planting flowering trees on both sides of Louisiana Avenue from Front Street to Indiana Avenue. That year the Perrysburg Community Orchestra was established as well. In 1963 the Township Hall was razed to make way for the Perrysburg Municipal Building and Jail, which opened in 1965.
In 1965, The Perrysburg Journal became The Perrysburg Messenger-Journal and was then sold to Robert and Dorothy Welch in 1969. By 1965 the city’s boundaries extended west toFt. Meigs Roadafter numerous annexations. Perrysburg celebrated its Sesquicentennial (150 year anniversary of its founding) in April of 1966. There was a parade, an historical pageant and the publication of The Perrysburg Story, 1816-1966 by Ardath Danford. In 1966, the ecumenical housing development for the elderly, known as Elm House was build across the street from the church. Our mission relationship with Elm House thus began. Fire destroyed 20 business housed in the Perrysburg-Toledo Warehouse Building in September of 1967. The three-story brick structure was located at the corner of West Third and Cherry Streets.
The ‘70’s saw the development of municipal parks, including Eisenhower, Orleans, Three Meadows and in 1976, Bicentennial Park. Land was also given by the Knight and Stranahan families for Woodland Park. In 1972, the monthly magazine, Bend of the River began publication in Perrysburg. This tome was devoted to the appreciation of the heritage of the Maumee Valley. At the church, the Rev. Edwin O. Lineberger was the minister from 1960-1962, followed by the Rev. John Skillings from 1962 until 1970. He was followed by the Rev. Ronald D. Martell in 1971. The church shared its sanctuary for several years with St. Timothy’s Episcopal mission while their church was being built.
In 1973, the church basement was redesigned for church school rooms. That same year the manse next door was sold and the proceeds were used to buy a site on East Boundary Street for a future church. 1973 is known for the start of the M & M’s group – the Ms. & Mr.’s social group meant for young marrieds! The group soon expanded to include all adults! In 1974, aluminum siding was put on the building and a Roger Selectric organ was purchased in 1978.
Under the leadership of Rev. Martell, the First Presbyterian Church of Perrysburg was instrumental in the development of Perrysburg Ecumenical House, Inc., located at Louisiana near South Boundary. This was completed in 1882. In 1983 the church became part of the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America. This marked the reunion (after 120 years of separation caused by the Civil War) of the United Presbyterian Church-USA and the southern Presbyterian Church US.
In 1984 the First Presbyterian Church celebrated 150 Years Serving Christ! The church boasted 393 members! The worship service was at 10 am and church school for children and youth was from 10:15-11:15 a.m. A highlight of the children’s church year was to deliver May baskets to the residents of Elm House! (Does all of this sound familiar?)
At the time, The First Presbyterian Church of Perrysburg was a member of Perrysburg Christians United and Metro-Toledo Churches United and a supporter of the “Feed Your Neighbor” program. The congregation raised $1500 as their first Sesquicentennial project to purchase a truck for PCU. An anniversary fund drive was established to raise $185,000 to add a wing to the rear of the building to contain offices and church school rooms. Funds were also designated to redecorate the sanctuary to complement the “Gothic” and “stick styles” of the building’s architecture. The anniversary brochure stated, “In celebration of 150 years of continuous service to God, this congregation is grateful for the opportunity we have had to share our faith with the greater community of Perrysburg.”
The church records show the marriages of several currents members taking place between the 60’s and the mid ‘80’s! Names include Michael and Melissa Cain (1970), Walter and Kathleen Celley (1973), Robert and Nancy Ann Gates (1974), Earl and Phyllis Witzler (1977), Terry and Martha Sloan (1979) and Richard and Mary Beth Gilts (1982). Congratulations to all!
The years between 1984, the 150th Anniversary, and 2009 saw many changes. During this time there were three Pastors, several interim Pastors, two Parish Associates, and five choir directors. The annual budget for 1985 was $82,281 and now it has increased almost $100,000 to $181,798 in 2008.
Rev. Ronald D. Martell led the Church into this time period. He stayed until his retirement in 1991. He was the Pastor for 20 years. In 1991, the Church elected him to Pastor Emeritus status. In 1990, Rev. Barbara Esterly, became the Parish Associate. She stayed in this position until Rev. Martell retired and she became the Interim Pastor.
1992 brought Rev. Steve Hill from Indiana to become the Pastor for the next 11 years. Rev. Hill moved to Illinois to be closer to his family in November 2003. Rev. Barb Esterly came back as Interim Pastor until 2006. Rev. David Young was then called as interim Pastor. Rev. Melinda Gallant joined the Church as a Parish Associate in 2004. On Aug. 1, 2007, Rev. Jeanne Kumbalek was issued a call as the new Pastor, she left in 2010. Currently we are served by interim pastor Rev. David Good and are in the process of searching for a full time called pastor.
There have also been many changes in the positions of Choir Director and Christian Education Director. Many people led the Christian Education until Jean Stoner became the Christian Education Director in 1995. She stayed with the Church until 2000 when Julie Bartram and then Deb Strohbeck took over. Selinda Schultz took over in 2002. The Church has held Vacation Bible school for not only the children on the church but also for the community. Ric Roberts led the choir until an illness forced him to quit. His wife Susie Roberts then picked up the reins of the choir. In 2002, Roy Young picked up the baton when Susie Roberts’ job as a high school music teacher started demanding more time. When Roy left in 2008, the Rev. Bill Gill and his wife Beth took over the leadership of the choir.
During this time the Church has also expanded its mission and giving, and outreach programs. Teams have been attending work camp in West Virginia each summer starting in the early 1990’s under the leadership of Kathy and Dennis East. With the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, a team of 13 were sent in 2006 to help with the rebuilding. The children of the Church have also helped to raise funds for Katrina relief as well as the Pakistan Earthquake Relief fund in 2006. The Church is and has been a contributing member of the Perrysburg Christians United and the local Feed Your Neighbor program. We have helped Zoar Lutheran Church with the Kitchen Of Hope and blood drives.
To help with these projects Christmas trees, wreaths and roping have been sold by the Church. The church has been selling Christmas Trees for 25 years to raise additional money for Mission projects.
The Church is also one of the few churches in the Perrysburg area that are participating in a Green program. The Church is recycling paper, magazines, cardboard, glass and plastic every Tuesday. Several Free Fairs ( like a free rummage sale) have been coordinated to benefit the community to find new homes for goods we no longer need.
Marina Shishova, a Presbyterian Peacemaker, from St. Petersburg, Russia joined the Church for the month of October in 2006. Ms. Shishova came over as part of an international program that brings church leaders from other parts of the world to the United States to foster understanding and to help build new trust between Christians of different churches and different nations.
The Church had another International visitor in 2008 when Akenese Motusaga came from Samoa. Ms Motusaga was here as a Mission Partner. She shared a lifestyle that openly has God in the center of family life. Hospitality is also a core value. A relationship with Nese continues today due to the benefits of email.
The Women’s Association and Joy Belle’s, which was organized in 1998, have contributed to the life of the Church. The Women’s Association held yearly Rummage sales until 2006. Mission giving and the Church itself all benefited from the money earned from the rummage sales. They were a tradition at the Church for many years and many in the community still miss them.
The church building has also undergone many changes. In 1989, the Elm Street chimney was removed after many meetings and discussions with the Historic Landmark Commission and the Perrysburg City Council. 1993 showed the restoration of the Elm Street entrance. A few years later a fire escape stairway was added for the expanded youth meeting room on the upper floor. In 2002, the Sacred Space Team was formed to help lead the Church in the refurbishing and remodeling of the Church building. They started with the much needed refurbishing of the bathrooms in 2003. The team also was instrumental in the making, with the women of the Church, the three quilts now hanging in the fellowship hall. The Quilts were designed and quilted by member Jean Overmeyer. Fellowship Hall itself was also redone at this time. In 2005, the conference room upstairs was completely remodeled. The offices were completely redone in 2007. Both the Pastor’s office and Church office were included in the remodeling. The Sanctuary, Flower Kitchen and Serenity Room has been refurbished.
In 2004 the building across the street was purchase from Mr. Carlos Cordova. It was purchased with the idea of providing more parking spaces for the growing Church membership. After much consideration and discussions with the city of Perrysburg, the house was refurbished and rented as a business. Additional parking spaces were added along the street. The Church has been the home for Kid’s World, a preschool for children from the age of 3 years until 5 years of age since the early 1980’s. The Church also housed Samaritan Counseling service for a number of years and is a meeting place for Al-Anon and Bereaved Parents as well as other community groups.
The Congregation has ranged from approximately 360 in the late 80’s to about 200 in the past year. There are two worship services each Sunday. A casual service at 8:15 AM and a traditional service at 10 AM. Communion is served the first Sunday of each month. Child care is available during the service and children are excused halfway through the service for Sunday School on the first four Sundays of the month. The First Presbyterian Church of Perrysburg continues to thrive and will continue to grow with the help of the members as the Perrysburg area itself grows.
2010 was a time of transition for First Presbyterian Church. Rev. Kumbalek left in May 2010. In November 2010 Rev. David Good became our interim minister as FPC went through a time of healing and reflection. Rev. Good brought us into the 21st century with the introduction of video screens and the use of PowerPoint during worship. Rev. Good left in October 2011, and we were blessed with talented pulpit supply by Rev. Barb Esterly and Rev. David Young. 123 Pray (1st Presbyterian on 2nd Street on the 3rd of the month) allowed for quiet prayer and meditation time in our sanctuary and had a calming effect on all who attended. A Pastor Nominating Committee was formed to search for our next permanent pastor.
In June 2012 Rev. Darcy Metcalfe accepted the call to serve FPC. Rev. Metcalfe brought youth and vitality to our congregation with engaging and thoughtful sermons. During Rev. Metcalfe’s time with FPC many new programs began. The Table, a monthly community meal, became a foundational service of the Mission team. It was the beginning of a community outreach that continues today.
A Building Improvement Committee (BIC) was formed to conduct a three year capital campaign. BIC funds allowed FPC to put a new roof on the church, replace an aging furnace/air conditioning unit, update our audio-visual capabilities, paint, install new carpeting, and perform much needed landscaping.
Special fund-raising opportunities also began in 2012. Presby Pies took advantage of the cooking talents of our church members, selling homemade pies during the summer farmers market. NOSA (Northwest Ohio Scrip Association) cards were introduced as a way to shop and also help the church. NOSA gift cards purchased and used when shopping gave FPC 1-5% back on the face value of the card. These funds allowed FPC to support in-house activities that enhanced our fundamental role to share the good news of the Lord.
In 2013 we ended our longtime association with Kid’s World. After updating the space with paint, carpeting, and deep cleaning we found a new tenant. Inspirations Early Learning Center would begin a successful child care business that continues today.
In 2014 our Mission team started a three year relationship with The Daughter Project, a home for sexually trafficked girls. Much of our time and talent went towards supporting that inspirational program. Additionally we also supported global mission by raising funds to pay for eight water wells in Africa.
2015 saw Inspirations expand with the addition of an infant room in a space FPC had not used regularly. Other areas of the church were also remodeled over the next few years, including the flower kitchen, bathrooms, and youth room. During 2016-2017 we had a major renovation of our kitchen, thanks to a generous gift from a church member.
Rev. Metcalfe resigned in August 2016 to pursue a Ph.D. program in Iowa. Our Session acted quickly to search for another pastoral candidate as gifted and talented at Rev. Metcalfe. In November 2016 temporary pastor Margaret Fox was hired and she quickly identified with the passion and focus of FPC. Rev. Fox has helped further define our mission within the larger church…love all people.
During our first three years with Rev. Fox the church has accomplished much. A new Congregational Care team was formed to support short-term and long-term care of members unable to regularly attend church. We have developed a newly updated website, and now have on-line giving. Inspirations had another expansion adding toddler space. The 146 E. Second Street property ended the rental agreement with Yarn Cravin’, and in 2019 new tenant Dancer’s Pointe signed a 5-10 year lease.
During this ten year span in the life of FPC we benefitted from the musical talents of several choir/music directors: Rev. Bill Gill, Eric Dickey, Xavier Suarez, and Vinny Sauer (current). We have enjoyed amazing anthems, cantatas, solos, and special performances in giving glory to God.
Our Christian Education team has worked with passionate child/youth/adult directors: Selinda Schultz (current), Jessica Swaisgood, and Tyra Jones (current). Through the years FPC has consistently provided junior worship on Sundays, offering activities and mission work that shares the joys of our faith in God. Adults have also been offered meaningful Bible study opportunities that enlighten and enhance our understanding of the word of God.
As this decade comes to an end, First Presbyterian Church looks to the next decade with faith, hope, and excitement about sharing the good news and embracing the work of God within our community and the world.