Niki Wolfe/Newcomerstown News

After 133 years, the First Presbyterian Church in Newcomerstown will close after their service Sunday, Dec. 28. The service will celebrate the church's history in Newcomerstown and include a special organ concert by Michael Williams of Columbus from 1 to 2 p.m. in the sanctuary.

Nc'town church to close after Dec. 28 service

Niki Wolfe

Newcomerstown News

"It's very hard. There's a life to a church and to a congregation," Joan Brode, First Presbyterian Church's Clerk of Session, said about the closing of the church in Newcomerstown.

The church congregation, which has dwindled to only 19 members over the past few months, voted during their Sunday morning worship service Dec. 7 to close their doors and suspend services after the Dec. 28 morning worship.

Brode attributes the church's closing to low attendance and the cost of maintaining the church facilities.

The church was organized on Nov. 13, 1876, with some 13 members listed on the rolls. The congregation initially met in the former Methodist Protestant Church, a frame building which stood on the property now occupied by the Newcomerstown Post Office. The lot where the church building stands on E. Canal Street was donated by Anna and Elizabeth Crater, and the original one-room church building was completed in 1878 at a cost of $3,000. On Feb. 14, 1900, the home of Dr. J.R. McElroy, adjacent to the church, was purchased and served as home to pastors until it was demolished in 1992. The Sunday School wing and Fellowship Hall were added to the church structure in 1931.

Over the past 133 years, the First Presbyterian Church has been served by 25 pastors, most in conjunction with The Bakersville Presbyterian Church, the congregation First Church was yoked with until 2001.

Currently, Rev. Dr. Terry Timson of Zanesville has served as the temporary pastor for the church for the past four years.

There have been over 500 names of members added to the rolls over the years.

However, with low membership, the congregation decided that they are "not providing an effective ministry for the community," Brode said. " It is with heavy hearts that we conclude this final chapter in the history of First Church."

The building itself, located at 205 W. Canal St., is owned by the Presbytery and it will be their decision as to the future of the structure.

So far, the church congregation has been invited to transfer their membership to St. Paul Lutheran Church in Newcomerstown; Christ United Methodist Church of Newcomerstown; or the Bakersville, Coshocton, Uhrichsville or New Philadelphia Presbyterian churches.

A service of celebration of the 133 years of faithful witness will take place on Sunday, Dec. 28 during the 10:30 a.m. morning worship, with an organ concert by Michael Williams of Columbus from 1 to 2 p.m. in the sanctuary.

"We've had a great ministry. But, we've just run out of people and resources," Brode said.