GALION — Growth of the congregation prompted the need for Wesley Chapel to move to a new location in the summer of 2020.
Rev. Joe Stafford said the church made the move from its former location at the corner of 6th Avenue and Oliver Street to 240 S. Market Street in August of last year. Despite dealing with the obstacles presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Stafford said it’s been a positive move for Wesley Chapel.
“We started growing pretty significantly about six years ago and started having conversations with (leaders of First Presbyterian Church,” said Stafford, who’s been pastor of Wesley Chapel since 1990. “But that fell through at that time. … Gary Proietti (pastor of First Presbyterian) came back to me about two years ago and asked if we were interested in buying the (South Market Street property). That was a surprise to us. Our board talked about it and prayed about it and we made the decision to go ahead and purchase it in May 2020. Our first Sunday in this building was the first Sunday in August of 2020.”
The larger sanctuary and other amenities are going to be beneficial to Wesley Chapel, Stafford said.
“We can seat our whole church family in the sanctuary,” Stafford said. “Pre-COVID, we were running about 135 (people). In the old building, we could 135 in, but we were shoulder to shoulder and all of the space was taken and we had to put chairs out. … We came in here for a test run on Mother’s Day 2020 and we had 166 in that service. The sanctuary was pretty full, but we could’ve gotten more people in. I think running in the 160s to around 200 is very feasible.”
An additional building on the South Market Street campus provides space for children’s classes, Sunday school, and other activities as well as a fellowship hall, Stafford said. He noted that there’s about 2,000 square feet of space in the fellowship hall including a working kitchen.
“We want to fix up the fellowship area, so if there are any brides in the area that are looking for a place to have their wedding, we could accommodate that,” he said. “We’ve got the opportunity to be able to do some things like that, but we haven’t even been able to have a church social with COVID and all the stuff that’s been going on. Hopefully, with a few vaccines and a little more time, we’ll be able to get back to normal.”
Wesley Chapel has been meeting “in person, social distanced with masks” since the end of May 2020, with some exceptions, Stafford said.
“We took two Sundays off,” Stafford said. “We’ve been doing Facebook Live and keeping something out there (online) for folks.”
Stafford said Wesley Chapel will celebrate its 60th anniversary this year.
“The first time the group met together, they met in the basement of what used to be an insurance agency and before that the IGA in town,” Stafford said. “Then they moved over actually on Market Street here where Toni’s (Flower & Gift Shoppe) is now and they rented a storefront there for a short time.”
Wesley Chapel then moved to property at the intersection of 6th Avenue and Oliver Street, remaining at that location until the move to South Market Street. Stafford said the church developed the site from an existing shack to the campus in its current form.
Wesley Chapel is affiliated with the Churches of Christ in Christian Union (CCCU), a denomination based in Circleville, Ohio. According to its website, the CCCU has member churches in 18 states and four countries in the West Indies.
For information about Wesley Chapel and the ministries it offers, visit the church website www.wesleychapelgalion.com or call 419-468-3930.
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