Crossroads United Methodist Church was born in May of 2014 out of the vital merger between St. Paul's United Methodist Church and Church of the Savior United Methodist. This merger was about two years in the making and was the result of lots prayer and dedication on the part of both congregations and their ministry staff.
While both churches have a rich history, our focus is clearly on today…in this present moment. We intentionally are seeking to be God’s people in the 21st century.
We respect our past, we live in the reality of the present moment, and we have an eye for the future.
Church of the Savior United Methodist History (1817-2014)
Mostly taken from "Church at the Crossroads" by Viginia Gingrich.
The tiny village of Canton was scarcely more than two years old when the first Methodist circuit rider - the Rev. Mr. James Watts - arrived in 1808. The inhabitants of the town numbered fewer than 30 that year, but by the time Canton was incorporated 14 years later the population was just a little short of 2000.
Methodist meetings were held at first in members' homes, later in the log courthouse, the frame schoolhouse, and finally in the newly-built brick two-story school building on the site of present-day Timken High.
The Wills Creek Circuit as laid out by Mr. Watts covered 475 miles, and included in addition to Canton, included Zanesville, Cambridge, Coshocton, New Philadelphia and 20 other stops. The circuit riders were sturdy souls who braved untold hardships in the course of attending to the religious needs of the early settlers.
After nine years of "Methodist Meetings" formal recognition of the "Methodist Society" was achieved in 1817. In 1833, the congregation purchased land and built a simple frame church. The location of that first building was on the same ground where today the American Electric Power microwave tower reaches skyward.
By 1862 the mushrooming membership had outgrown that early house of worship.
The present day site at the "crossroads of the city" was acquired, and the first church building
to occupy that land was dedicated in 1864. In 1867 papers of incorporation of the
"First Methodist Church" were filed in the Stark County Courthouse.
The new church building was less than 17 years old (in 1881) when a tragic fire destroyed it, but the congregation refused to accept defeat and by 1883, their indomitable efforts had achieved the building still in use today.
We should take note of the fact that both the 1864 and 1883 structures were dedicated free of debt —one at a cost of $45,000 and the other at $137,000.
While the present Gothic structure has undergone several periods of extensive remodeling and has been added to over the years, it remains essentially the same.
The same magnificent stained glass windows brought from Europe over a century ago still filter prismatic patterns of fragmented sunlight onto the same sturdy oak pews, which through the intervening years have held generations of church-goers.
It was in 1867 that William McKinley first came to Canton to establish a law practice. He became active in the work of our church, served as Sunday School Superintendent, and was a Trustee of the church for many years.
Even though his later commitments as legislator, Governor of Ohio and President of the United States required him to be absent from Canton for long intervals, he maintained a close association with our church. Thus, it was here that his body was brought for funeral services following his assassination in 1901. The flag that draped McKinley's casket is on display in our church library, along with other momentos and photographs relating to the church. The McKinley family pew is marked with a plaque.
The McKinley Memorial windows which grace the west wall of the sanctuary were dedicated in 1907,a gift from his widow and church member Ida McKinley, in honor of the martyred president.
In the early decades of the 1900s, our church grew with the city and with the nation, and more room was sorely needed; but attention to this had to wait till the clouds of war had been dispersed. Finally, in 1923 the four-story parish house was built that provided additional space for religious education as well as social and recreational activities.
Twenty-seven years later - in 1950 - a major remodeling was accomplished and it was at that time the Ball Memorial Organ was installed. A magnificent Aeolian-Skinner instrument, it replaced the previous Estey organ, which in 1920 had supplanted the original 1883 Johnson and Co. instrument. Schulmerich "Coronation" bells and the "Arlington" carillon were added in 1955; the largest bell in Stark County still calls Canton residents to worship on Sunday mornings.
In 1965, further remodeling included the addition of the Kenneth B. Cope Memorial Chapel as a gift from the Cope family. This beautiful and inspiring setting is used for smaller and more intimate services. Additional classrooms, office space and elevator were accomplished.
Physical changes to the church building over the years have been not more important, however, than those innovations wrought from within. It was in our church that the first graded Sunday School lessons were used, prepared by Lewis Miller while Superintendent of our Church School. Mr. Miller also designed the semi-circular sanctuary layout found in our church which - having been subsequently perfected after his move to Akron - became widely known as the "Akron plan." Both were quickly adopted and generally copied by churches all over the country.
The first Father-Son Banquet in the country was held in our church in 1913. The idea caught on immediately and received national recognition in the newspapers; eventually the Mother-Daughter Banquet followed as an offshoot.
In the post-war period of decentralization, as more and more churches followed the residential and business flight to "suburbia," it became necessary for our congregation to decide whether to remain a downtown church or to leave the heart of the city. Twice - first in the late 1940s and again in 1963 - the matter was carefully and prayerfully considered with the resulting vote of the membership each time being overwhelmingly in favor of staying.
Outreach in other forms, however, has been very much in evidence throughout the church's history; at least seven other Methodist congregations have been formed through the efforts and assistance of our church, starting with the "Second Methodist Church" in 1867 (later known as Simpson Methodist Church.)
Outreach in the form of missionary support has been another continuing phase of our church's dedication, from the Rev. Dr. Edward P. Frease in 1889 to (medical) Dr. and Mrs. Robert L. Simpson, up to Marvin and Jean Wolford, who served many years in the Congo. The influence of these missionaries (and those in between) reached from India to Algeria, and from Portuguese West Africa to Liberia, and has unquestionably been of deep significance.
A closer look into the history of the church points up many interesting little facets, such as:
The church occupies the unique position of having owned a cemetery plot since 1861, wherein a number of former pastors and parishioners have been buried.
At one point early in the century the church Trustees found it neccessary to have the janitor deputized, complete with badge we are told, to maintain order and repel rowdy intruders at the back of the sanctuary.
Over the years some traditions have been perpetuated, while others have faded away; it is necessary to change with the times, to be relevant to our world today. But one continuing tradition is as relevant today, and is as honored today, as it was over 200 years ago, when the first Methodist circuit rider wended his weary way into town - that of serving the Lord with gladness and entering into his temple with praise.
"I was glad when they said to me, let us go into the House of the Lord."
St. Paul's United Methodist Church History (1923-2014)
by Diane Shuler
St. Paul’s had its beginnings in the vision of the First United Brethren Church to expand their ministry to the SW section of a growing City of Canton. The Brethrens purchased two lots on the corner of Sixth and Dartmouth on February 24, 1921 in anticipation of the expansion. At an organizational meeting held on May 8, 1922 they decided to canvas all members west of the creek to see how many would be interested in attending a new church. Sixty five families, for a total of 225 persons, expressed an interest.
On June 9, 1922 interested members met at Cedar School for the purpose of beginning the second church. Twenty five people were charter members. Three months later, the first pastor, Rev. James Jones, had a congregation of 125 members. On June 1, 1923, the church name was changed from Second United Brethren Church to St. Paul’s United Brethren Church with the motto “Go Win Thy Brother”. Ground was broken for the new church on July 8, 1923 and the cornerstone was laid November 24, 1923. One thousand were present at the dedication service for the new building.
The church nearly closed in 1932 during the depression. Rev. Dennis Foreman was appointed pastor at this time and he believed that those still there could prevent failure of the church by their faith and his. Rev. Foreman began asking those he visited at the hospitals if they had a home church, and if not, he invited them to come to St. Paul’s. He would stop children in the neighborhood and invite them to Sunday School. Because Rev. Foreman had no car, he walked to the homes of members who had not been attending to ask them if there was a problem that kept them from church services. In 1945 the United Brethren and Evangelical denominations merged, making the name of the church St. Paul’s EUB. By 1956 the average Sunday attendance was 523. A new sanctuary was dedicated in 1959.
On April 23, 1968 the EUB and the Methodists merged to become the United Methodists. A new addition to the church was completed in 1997 when the original building was demolished. The church celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2007. With the changing times and the flight to the suburbs, the membership began to decline. In 2012 Rev. Edward M. Fashbaugh, II was appointed as part time pastor at St. Paul’s, while he continued to serve at Church of the Savior. Aultman Hospital expressed an interest in purchasing St. Paul’s building. The members agreed to the sale. After several meetings, the members of St. Paul’s began taking the first steps which would result in a vital merger of Church of the Savior and St. Paul’s. The first service of the new Crossroads UMC was on May 11, 2014.