MASON — Members of the Mason United Methodist Church held a dedication ceremony Saturday morning for a memorial park they recently established.
The park site once held the first Zerkle House of Hope, a ministry of the church. The house was later razed and the ministry was moved to a new building nearby, however members wanted to make certain that the legacy was never forgotten.
The house that first held the Zerkle House of Hope was donated to the church by sisters Claudia Thomas and Jennifer Hart. They grew up in the house that was owned by their parents, William “Peck” and Lilah Zerkle, who were longtime members of the church.
The history of the house continues, however. Prior to the Zerkle family, the house was owned by Hart’s and Thomas’ grandparents, Lem and Magdaline Ruttencutter. The Ruttencutters received the house as a wedding gift in the early 1900’s.
Thomas was present at the park dedication.
“The house was given in love, knowing it would be of service to the community,” she said.
And it has been of service to the Bend Area and beyond. Members, under the leadership of Sue Stone, converted the house into a thrift store filled with gently used clothing, shoes, household goods, and knick knacks.
That shop has now been transferred to the new building, which opened in June 2018. Items are sold at very low prices, with proceeds helping to support the church, Stone said. Merchandise for the store come from donations.
Aside from being sold though, Stone said clothing is also provided free of charge to anyone whose house has burned, as well as for women released from Lakin prison, who might not have a wardrobe to restart their lives. Clothing is also taken to Columbus and given to the homeless, and to Tennessee to be shared with a ministry there.
The new memorial park is surrounded by landscape blocks and contains a bench for reflection, as well as flowers, a birdbath, and decorations. A ginko tree was donated to the park by the church ministers, Dustin and Natasha DeBord.
Natasha, who opened the dedication with prayer, said the tree will grow into a large shade tree that will provide a lasting memory. Dustin read a passage of scripture before blessing the new park.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.