Thompson Methodist Church

The Thompson United Methodist Church was organized as the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1829 at the home of Dr. George Emory by Reverend John Crawford and Reverend Caleb Brown, and consisted of about twelve members – among them Otis and Dolly Howe, Harris and Jerusha Glass, and Luther Davis – who had been meeting in the first frame schoolhouse of the township which stood just west of the present church. For some time after the organization in 1829, the Methodist Society held its meeting in the old town hall.

In 1846, the first small church was built on the site of the present structure, the land having been acquired at a cost of $25. the church trustees at that time were: James Cottam, Lyman Miller, Charles Goodrich, John Atkins, Otis Howe, Mr. Comstock and Josiah Wheaton. The Reverend Matson was serving as minister and, there being no instrument other that a pitch pipe or tuning fork, LaFayette Warren and his five sisters led the singing. The first church organ was purchased in 1865.

In accordance with common Protestant practice of the time, the first camp meeting of the Thompson Methodist Church was held in 1864 on the Stephen Hodges farm. This camp lasted ten days with three services held each day. For the evening, light was provided by burning wood in barrels made of tire irons and raised three or four feet above the ground.

The present church building was constructed in 1884 by Albert Stocking and his brothers and William Wilbur at a cost of $6,000 and was dedicated on January 25, 1885, with Reverend I. C. Pershing officiating. Through cash and conscription the trustees – Matthews, Hodges, Garis, Hulbert, Murphy and Van Gorder – were able to announce the church free from dept by June of 1885.

There had been a very active Sunday School since 1829 and in 1884, an Epworth League was formed. By 1899, the then Superintendent, E. S. Hulburt and the Secretary reported average attendance of forty scholars, ten teachers and three visitors with a collection of $.94 and Children’s Day Offering of $7.89.

Among the early members of the church are such names as: Albial Scott, Mark Barnes, Fred and E. S. Hulburt, W. W. Case, Charles Matthews, Nelson Garis, E. J. Clapp, H. Murphy, W. C. Van Gorder, John Boyd, A. M. Stocking, R. J. Hibbard, J. W. Smith, A. J. Dewey, Perry Quayle, E. G. Blakeslee, F. E. Green, Harold Watson, P. J. Smith, and familiar family names such as Crandall, Chaffe, Phillips, Cottam, Kelly and many others.

On April 21, 1946, with Reverend G. S. Gothard as the minister, the new altar was dedicated. Rapid growth, especially in the Sunday School, resulted in a decision in 1955 to purchase a new parsonage in order to use the old one as an annex for additional instructional space. Subsequent to this purchase of the current parsonage, attendance continued to grow and the annex soon became inadequate and, in June of 1965 ground was broken by Reverend and Mrs. Byrd Lewis for the new educational unit. Construction, started the following year, was done by members and friends of the church with the exception of those jobs, which required professional service. The Building Committee, chaired by Lee A. Olds, consisted of B. Fred Turner, Frand Fowler, Leonard Coe, Mrs. Clayton Bebout, Mr. & Mrs. Paul Smith, L. N. Chaffe, Howard Moseley and Charles Moseley. At a cost of $100,000, an appraised value of $235,000, and with more than sufficient room for the originally planned purposes, the new building has been and will be available for community needs and use.

During the 1970’s, the steeple of the church has been rejuvenated, the exterior walls are being resided with the south, west and part of the east walls completed. The redecoration of the sanctuary has been undertaken by the women’s group and a plan has been suggested for renovation of the entrance area with renewal or replacement of the door, the new door to be a memorial to the late L. N. Chaffe.

Starting in 1890, a list of the ministers of the church would include: Ed Wilson, John Beetham, J. E. Russell, C. M. Hollet, George W. Orcutt, J. F. Ellis, W. G. Harper, N. E. Hulbert (who, as a mischievous boy in 1864, had been told by Reverend Knapp that he might some day be pastor of this church and whose daughters Esther and Jeanette became missionaries), H. W. Kennedy, D. L. Clark, J. L. Boyer, G. M. Heiks, C. R. Preston, J. L. Neely, E. R. Brown (during his tenure the first Boy Scout troop was established for fourteen and fifteen year old boys), R. A. Foster, J. A. L. Danford, B. C. Peck, C. A. Reed, C. F. Rothel, O. H. Pennel, W. P. Michael, E. M. Hughgart, R. T. Campbell, A. W. Couch, Victor Wood, Tom Shusley, Harley Borden, G. L. Gothard, Howard Crabtree, Byrd Lewis, William O’Dell, Roy Bower, and the newest, Robert Arnold.

The current membership numbers about 365 people from Thompson and the surrounding areas while the Sunday School registration, having reached a peak of about 150 members, has declined somewhat but is looking forward to another period of growth.

The Methodist Youth Fellowship which is the current name for the Epworth League has worked to inspire new interest and growth among the young people of the church and counts about eighteen among its high-school age members with Mr. And Mrs. Paul Smith and Mr. and Mrs. Ben Myers as the current directors. As an interesting item of fact, three of the young ladies of the group were included in a mission group which worked in the urban slums of London, England during the summer of 195 – helping a church minister to its poor, needy and wayward. That same London church had, in an earlier period of wealth and strength, sent members of its congregation to the Cleveland and northeastern Ohio area to give missionary aid to the early settlers of the Western Reserve. Brotherhood and Christianity expressed in the Bi-Centennial work of the church, perhaps most impressive because it involves the new generation of faithful who will build upon the society formed by the hardy few who believed in the early 1800’s that the necessary work of the church must go forward.

Above information from the 1976 book
Thompson Ohio Bicentennial Community