By Rick Wolcott
Aug. 25, 2013 – Sunday was a day of remembrance at Wesley United Methodist Church (Tuscarawas District) in Massillon. The congregation held its final worship service.
A ministry to the community that began in 1900, in the end, was not able to overcome financial hardship. Former parishioners and pastors returned for the final service.
“The kingdom of God is bigger than Wesley United Methodist Church, bigger than the Tuscarawas District, and bigger than The United Methodist Church,” said the Rev. Ken Kubichek, who served the church from 2002-2008.
The Rev. Melvin Lindberg was an interim pastor at Wesley UMC from 2010-2011. He told the congregation that when they leave the church after the final service, “you will take the love of Christ with you; keep it burning.”
Jane Shem, who spent 61 years at the church, recalled those memories that most touched her five senses.
The Rev. Julia Wertz, who pastored the church with the Rev. Jeff Coggins as part of the Massillon Shared Ministry the past few years returned. She read a letter from Coggins that said in part, “God will continue to use the people of Wesley wherever they may go. God has a special purpose for every person here at Wesley UMC.”
Tears flowed from many eyes during communion.
“Stand firm in the Lord,” interim pastor Linda Slutz told the congregation during the sermon. “God has more blessings in store for you. Strive for the future.”
She concluded the sermon reading the congregation a portion of Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi found in Philippians 1: 3-6.
“Wesley Church, ‘I thank my God for you every time I think of you; and every time I pray for you all, I pray with joy because of the way in which you have helped me in the work of the gospel from the very first day until now. And so I am sure that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus.’”