Wesley Chapel congregation moving from Sixth Avenue to South Market Street

By Jodi Myers - Galion Inquirer

GALION — Wesley Chapel has outgrown its church and will take possession of a new building July 24.

The congregation at Wesley Chapel, 260 Sixth Ave., needed to find a bigger building to conduct services and to grow its community outreach efforts. That search came to fruition recently when the congregation of First Presbyterian Church in Galion opted to sell its building at 240. S. Market St.

The parish from First Presbyterian is downsizing and will temporarily share the First United Church of Christ building on Harding Way West.

Wesley Chapel minister Joe Stafford said the church is 59 years old and has been meeting on Sixth Avenue since about 1963.

“We’ve had a growth spurt at the church for the past 10 years. About three years ago we got to the place where we couldn’t fit the entire congregation in one service, so we had to go to two services,” Stafford said. “When we would have a time of fellowship, the church family wouldn’t fit in the church. So we started praying.”

Stafford said at one point the parish had actually purchased land where the former Dawsett Elementary School was, and hoped to build a new church there. However, he said the cost to build a new church was too high.

Then the opportunity to purchase the Presbyterian church building came up. The two parishes started talking in the spring of 2019. About a month ago, the decision was made to purchase the building and the sale was closed about three weeks ago.

“We take possession on July 24,” Stafford said. “Right now, our first service in our new church is scheduled Aug. 2.”

Having a larger building, Stafford said, will allow the congregation to have one service each week and they hope to serve people in the community better. Plans are to offer the church up for weddings and as a gathering place for training and other community gatherings, as the building has a big fellowship area.

He said the church can also be a good location for people looking to have a luncheon after a funeral service.

“Our ministry has been pretty full,” Stafford said. “But we haven’t had the room to be able to take care of what we wanted to do.”

He explained the church’s niche in the community is more of a counseling kind of thing.

“Not only am I a pastor, but I’m also a licensed professional clinical counselor,” said Stafford, who has served on the board of directors at Community Counseling Services for the past seven years, after counseling there for 14 years.

“There are a lot of people who fall through the cracks,” he said. “People who are rich don’t have problems getting counseling services and people who are really poor really don’t have problems getting access to services because Medicaid takes care of most of their needs.”

“But there are a lot of people in between who can’t afford $120 an hour, and their insurance doesn’t cover that,” he said. “SThe work I do is by donation.

He said the Wesley Chapel congregation includes those who have trouble leaving anything in the offering plate, and others who are very generous.

Also, the church started a ministry group about 11 years ago called Restore.

“Wework with those people who fall through the cracks,” Stafford said. “They have some problems, but they don’t need a trained counselor. They just need somebody to talk to or they need someone to help walk them through a difficult time.”


By Jodi Myers

Galion Inquirer