Genoa Trinity United Methodist Church (GTUMC), located at the corner of 4th and Main Street in Genoa, Ohio has served the Genoa area for over 150 years. On Sunday, October 1, 2006, a Sesquicentennial Celebration Service was held to commemorate not only the service of the church, but to glorify God and thank Him for His grace and mercy.
The following is a history of GTUMC. (Click here for a chronological history of events)
The First 100 Years
The history of the current United Methodist Church in Genoa, Ohio begins with the history of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and dates back to the year 1856 when a few person of that denomination were organized into a class by Rev. Hill of Freeport, Ohio. Services were held for a time in an old school house. Then, being refused the use of that building by the school directors, they held their meetings at the home of Dave Wood, and later in the United Brethren Church after the erection of that building as a place of worship.
In 1866, the present site was deeded by Newton U. Cooley to David Wood, Samuel Jones, John Sweeney, Fred Strawhacker, and Andrew Anderson, trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church. On this property was constructed a frame building 56′ x 30′; the lumber used was all native timber from the surrounding forests and hauled to the sawmill to be cut. Mr. William Humlong was the architect and director of the labor. Rev. Samuel Lynch was pastor. This building was dedicated November 26, 1869 by Rev. Thomas Wilson.
Until 1901 there was no parsonage owned by the church, but in that year, through efforts initiated by Miss Pearle Frent, the dwelling south of the church property was purchased for less than $500. This occurred during the pastorate of Rev. Charles A. Parks.
Around 1905, the church was slightly changed as the direct result of “an act of God”. Improvements had been badly needed for some time, however the congregation delayed them due to the expense of the project. Then lightening struck the church steeple, completely demolishing it. The insurance paid not only for a much lower bell tower, but also for a badly needed roof and redecoration. At the first service held in the church after the renovation, the minister preached from the text “Ask and it shall be given you”.
In 1911, the parsonage property was sold and the proceeds, together with funds accumulated by the M. E. Hustlers (an organization formed among the women of the church) were used to erect a new parsonage location on the northeast section of the church lot. This improvement was made during the pastorate of Rev. W. M. Hartford.
The new parsonage was built by William L. Fouke and Ed Uthoff at a cost of $2,387 and included a $140 furnace! It provided a 25 x 15 foot living room which was used by the Ladies Aid and Epworth League for social purposes until the present church was built.
After serving as a place of worship for 58 years, the old building seemed inadequate and agitation for a new church building began while Rev. Ringgenberg was pastor. However, no real action was taken until June 30, 1927 – after liberal subscription to the project by the people of Genoa and vicinity. At the outset of the campaign it was planned to move the old church and remodel it, but investigation showed that the huge logs upon which it rested were too badly rotted to permit the church to be moved. A modern two-story brick veneered structure with art glass windows and a basement fully equipped for social purposes was contracted at a cost of nearly $25,000.
On July 6, 1927 the razing of the old church began and after difficulties with excavation, occasioned by the hardness of rock encountered, the walls of the present edifice began to rise. The laying of the cornerstone took place August 28, 1927, with appropriate ceremonies conducted by Rev. H. Baumgardner and an address by Dr. Rowand, Superintendent of the Toledo District. In the cornerstone were sealed the history of the church, the pastor’s name, names of the trustees, the stewards, and the advisory board.
The trustees included: Harry Skilliter (president), Earl Camper, Don Bell, Robert Skilliter, Jay Gregg, Carl Groweg, John Shessler, and Nelson Wood.
On the Advisory Building Committee were Enola Skilliter, Pearle Frent, Gertrude Bell, Eva Wood, and Lura Humlong. Stewards were Enola Skilliter, Pearle Frent, May Bloomfield, Molly Weyandt, Ethel Bell, Cora Freese, and Eva Wood.
Officers of the Sunday School were Harry Skilliter (Superintendent Emeritus), Wesley Tillotson (Superintendent), Lyle LaPlantz (Secretary), Ann Shessler (Treasurer), Carl Groweg (Assistant Superintendent), and Don Bell (Attendance Officer).
Teachers included Pearl Frent, May Dunn, Isabelle James, Grace Bell, Kathryn Wood, Ethel Bell, Robert Skilliter, Arthur James, Ethel Gardner, Lyle Gardner, and G. Niehausmeyer.
On December 15, 1927, contractors Bollen & Gerding gave the completed building to the Building Committee of the church, however the church was not dedicated until the following spring when Bishop L.A. Smith conducted the service. The choir wore robes for the first time at this memorable event! It was at this time that the official church name of Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church was adopted, as suggested by Enola Skilliter.
Attempts to pay off the debt were hampered by the Great Depression, however the feat was accomplished while Rev. S. E. Bruner was pastor. This occurred in 1938.
Shortly after that, plans were begun to redecorate the church, but little could be done due to a scarceness of materials. Suggestions to remodel it into its present form was then made by Harold Sigler, and although not completed exactly as proposed, the results were very similar.
Through 1948, nearly $3,000 had been spent, all of which had been subscribed before the work was begun. Also in 1948, the church finally became a single-point charge. For more than 90 years it was served as a circuit charge … ministers assigned here shared their duties at the same time with either Elmore, Woodville, Millbury, or LaCarne. The first appointment was made by Bishop Hazen G. Werner who installed Rev. John Marshall Sutton, a Garrett Theological Seminary graduate student, as the first full-time minister.
Formation of the Arts and Memorials Committee in 1948 gave the membership another media through which recognitions could be given. Through donations to the committee, the cross and candlestick holders were purchased in March, 1950 and dedicated to the memory of Maurice R. Johnson.
In the years since, many memorial gifts have been dedicated for the beautification of the church. Included among these are hymnals, furniture, music equipment, electronic projection equipment, computers, and many others which are greatly appreciated.
In 1956, under Rev. Frank Rowe, the church had the honor of celebrating its centennial anniversary. This was a good time for members to look back over the years and evaluate what had been accomplished through the years. From time to time improvements in the church interior were made, and the parsonage was remodeled and redecorated. Many names of faithful and loyal workers can be recalled. Outstanding in service to the Sunday School was the name of Harry Skilliter who served as Superintendent for more than twenty-five years, and his wife Enola, who served in many capacities, and was church Treasurer for many years.
Records indicate a varied membership total, and it is not known if the totals were just for Genoa, or included totals from LaCarne, Woodville, Millbury, and/or Elmore. In 1900, membership was listed at 130, and a pastor salary of $534 was assigned to Rev. C. A. Parks.
Membership reported to the Ohio Conference in 1949 was listed at 199, with an annual salary at $2,200.
The 1954 Ohio Conference report showed 252 members, and a salary of $2,860.
History – 1956 through present
Early in 1955 the Official Church Board realized the need for additional space for the rapidly growing church school and voted to set aside a monthly sum to be used as a building fund. By December 4, 1957 plans and cost of the proposed building were presented to the congregation and approved. Mr. Harold Bower was appointed chairman of the Building Committee and Mr. Robert Skilliter Sr. as chairman of the Building Finance Committee. By the spring of 1958 sufficient funds toward the construction of a $78,000 addition to the church had been pledged and work was begun with groundbreaking ceremonies in June, 1960.
The building was completed on Palm Sunday, March 26, 1961.
Consecration Week services were held the week of August 16-20, 1961. The new educational unit greatly improved the available space and provided for an enhanced Sunday School experience for all involved.
The ever-growing Sunday School division of Trinity reached an attendance of 131 members in 1961!
By 1968, participation in the youth groups had grown to such an extent that a used bus was purchased to aid in the transportation of members.
A Thrift Shoppe was opened on 8th Street as a mission project. The purpose of the shoppe was to provide low-cost clothing and other items to the area. Countless individuals have been helped by the generosity of those who donate to the Thrift Shoppe, and by those who help man the store. In 1974 the Thrift Shoppe was re-located to its current 4th Street location after the house next to the parsonage was razed for the addition of a parking lot.
In 1978, the church balcony was closed, the church re-plastered, and the pews stripped and refinished. A bid of $1,350 was accepted to fully insulate the parsonage in 1987.
The first female pastor, Rev. Rachel Kurt, was appointed and began serving Trinity in 1988.
An Endowment fund was established in 1991.
During 1992, Rev. Kurt left Trinity and was replaced by another female pastor, Pastor Carole Wood. Pastor Wood remained at Trinity for 11 years.
1993 saw construction and improvements made to Trinity with the addition of a ramp at the North entrance of the church to aid those who had difficulty negotiating steps. In addition, a children’s playground was created, equipped, and fenced. Both projects were paid for by the Head Start Migrant program.
In 1994, a leak in the roof of the Education wing caused the nursery ceiling to collapse. A new roof was installed at a cost of $9,000.
An after-school tutoring program was established at the church in 1995.
It should be mentioned that the United Methodist Women have played a large role in the success of Genoa Trinity United Methodist Church. Their activities, sponsorships, fund-raising efforts, and general service to the church cannot be overstated.
The 140th Anniversary of Trinity United Methodist Church was celebrated on Saturday, October 12, 1996, with a 4 o’clock reception and a 5 o’clock dinner. Grace was said by the children of the church, and dinner music was provided by Deb Peiffer. Honored guests included The Rev. and Mrs. Leon Richey (Trinity 1959-1964). Musical selections were presented by the Trinity Junior Choir, the Trinity Chancel Choir, and the Sweet Adelines Quartet (led by Char Overholt of Trinity). A Worship Celebration was held on Sunday, October 13, 1996 with a special presentation by Scottish Bagpiper James Francis, Director of the Zenobia Highlanders of Toledo. In addition, Trinity’s three (3) choirs also performed. A cornerstone ceremony was held, and a giant 140th birthday cake was enjoyed by all in attendance.
Pastor Wood challenged the congregation to pay off the debt early for the repair to the Nursery roof which had collapsed in 1994. In 1996, Pastor Wood preached her sermon from the roof after the congregation met her challenge! Later that year, Pastor Wood preached from horseback after the congregation paid off another loan.
A lightning strike caused serious electrical damage to the church building in October, 2001. Because there was also damage to the sanctuary, the Administrative Council decided to remodel the front of the sanctuary and offices, as well as upholster the pews and refinish the pulpit, lectern, and alter.
Pastor Wood was transferred in June, 2002 and Rev. Randall Haase began serving Trinity. Rev. Haase brought with him his wife, Laura, and their 3 children: Kendra, Kayla, and Kirsten. Kristian was born in September 2002. During his tenure at Trinity, Rev. Haase started a Spaghetti Supper and Auction to raise money for the church. Trinity members purchased new items and donated them to the church for the auctions, held in early November. The entire evening was produced by Trinity members, and literally thousands of dollars were raised by auction participants.
Rev. Haase was transferred in 2006 and replaced by Pastor Linda Timm. Pastor Timm worked with the 150th committee to plan the Sesquicentennial Celebration.
As part of the 150th Anniversary celebration, many former pastors were invited to return to Trinity and preach on selected Sundays throughout the summer. Those able to attend included Thomas Beckett, Frank Rowe, and Carole Wood; in addition to the new District Superintendent, Rae Lynn Schleif. Bishop Bruce Ough led the worship service and presented Holy Communion.
In 2007, Pastor Timm’s husband, Carl, passed away suddenly. Pastor Timm decided to retire from the ministry, and was replaced by Pastor Cherl Matla. Pastor Cherl is the current pastor of GTUMC.
In 2011, the “Trinity Transformation Project” began, with the intent of beautifying and upgrading the church building and surrounding area. An electronic messaging sign was purchased at the cost of $17,000 after Genoa Trinity obtained city council approval (with help from Bob Skilliter). The sign soon put Trinity “on the map” as we became known as “the church with the sign”.
Other improvements included outdoor landscaping, removal of trees, carpeting/painting the Community Room, carpeting/painting and new lights installed in the Dining Room, new windows in the Community Room and 2nd floor of the Education Wing, and the purchase of new chairs for the Dining Room.
A huge improvement was completed in 2012 with the installation of air-conditioning in the sanctuary.
A 15-year, $35,000 loan was secured from Genoa Bank to cover all the improvements. We were able to pay back the loan in 6 years.
In 2018, the cash-in-bank totaled over $60,000 so the Administrative Council decided to purchase 3 $10,000 Certificates of Deposit (CDs) to maximize interest income.