LEON — Celebrating 150 years of anything is an accomplishment these days, and this month is the 150th birthday for the Leon United Methodist Church.
Church members have planned activities throughout the summer and into the latter part of the year to observe this milestone. This Sunday will be the church’s actual Homecoming Day with Sunday school from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., the service from 11 a.m. to noon, lunch from noon to 2 p.m., and special singing from 2-4 p.m. will close out the celebration.
The church was founded and organized in July 1866 and was erected on property owned by Jeremiah and Annie Yauger. The church is situated on a high point above the town of Leon and overlooks the Kanawha River.
The first minister was the Rev. C.W. Swartz and the first church school superintendent was John Ferguson. At the time of organization, the members were: Phillip, Catherine and J.C. Swentzel, Sarah and Lucinda Crookham, James, Jane, Isaac, Agnes and Jennie Gibson, Priscilla and Lydia Hanson, Martha, Jonathan, William, Verminta and Edmund Hill, Jennie and Bettie Scott, J.C. and Catherine Swentzel, James Mahan, William Merchant and Magdalene Koontz.
Many improvements have been made to the original building as years have passed. A basement was added to provide classrooms and a kitchen. An addition to the sanctuary provided space for the nursery, bathroom and handicapped entrance. The sanctuary was remodeled with oak woodwork and new lighting. Central air and heat, along with padded pews, added to the parishioners’ comfort. The covered front porch was completed in 2001. From 2005-06, fundraisers and donations provided the funds for a baby grand piano, new hymnals, Bible covers and altar cloths.
The church has a dedicated board of trustees and members who oversee the stewardship of the church. Billy Joe, Karen and Billy Aaron Barton are the custodians who take care of the grounds and are faithful in attendance. The Rev. Bill Crawford is the current pastor with Eleanor Keefer as the longstanding Sunday School superintendent. Church pianists are Karen Barton and Debbie Peck. Current Sunday School teachers are Eleanor Keefer, Greta Boggess, Angela Thomas and Peggy Crawford.
Children are at the heart of this church. They often provide special music, readings and skits. The church serves as a meeting place for Cub Scout Pack 220.
The church provides scholarships for students attending college or technical school on a full or part time basis. Currently, the church is providing scholarship assistance to an engineering student at WVU and an engineering major at the University of Lexington and an accounting major at WVU. The church has three graduates from the scholarship program. A teacher, a clinic manager and an attorney are now giving back to the community.
The church plans a busy year of activities to celebrate this 150th milestone. Already, a gathering of recipes from the members and community was compiled into a cookbook that will be a fundraiser later in the year; a memory board was erected at the church where pictures and names of loved ones past and present has been displayed; the celebration of Mother’s Day was observed as was the honoring of graduates; an open house on Memorial Day and the taking of orders for the cookbook and 150th anniversary church plate was done.
Last month, the church celebrated their children, including a trip to a water park and children leading services on Sunday, in celebration of Father’s Day, and vacation Bible School.
In August, weekend revival with times will be announced and children will participate in the fair parade on a float celebrating the 150th anniversary of the church. In September, there will be a Grandparents Day celebration and the children will again lead services. In October, there will be a harvest celebration with a picnic, games and fun for all, a planned visit to Gritt’s Farm and pumpkin patch.
Then, in November, plans are for a holiday dinner, covered dish Nov. 12 beginning at 3 p.m. In December, there will be a live Nativity scene
For more information concerning the children’s activities, contact Thomas or Boggess. For information regarding the church activities, contact Vickie Keefer or Eleanor Keefer.
Members state: “Everyone is welcome to help us celebrate this wonderful milestone. We hope to see you there.”
— Submitted by Leon United Methodist Church members.