SOMERTON - When members of the Somerton United Methodist Church join sister congregations of Jerusalem and Beallsville Tuesday night for Christmas Eve services, there will be prayers of thanksgiving for the great blessings God has provided the group in 2013.
In June 2012, a powerful derecho damaged their 139-year-old small brick church beyond repair. Since then, members have undertaken an ambitious plan to replace the church with a half million dollar sanctuary, classrooms and a large fellowship hall.
More than 90 members and friends gathered for services Nov. 3 at the Somerton fire hall, their first service in Somerton in 18 months. After the service, the group gathered at the church site for a joyful ceremonial groundbreaking as many longtime members hoisted the first shovelfuls of dirt for the new church.
The following week, T .J. Jefferis General Contracting Inc. of Barnesville, successful bidder on the project, started construction. Pastor Jean Cooper said, "Concrete has been poured for footers and foundation," and the contractor will "do as much as they can with the money we have."
The initial goal is to get the building under roof and to fully complete the sanctuary. "But, of course, it is now winter and that will slow down construction," Cooper noted.
"There will be a Christmas Eve service for the Somerton, Jerusalem and Beallsville Charge at Beallsville. All members, families, attendees and members of the communities are invited and encouraged to attend," Cooper said. Those services will get underway Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Meanwhile, Sunday services continue each week at the Somerton fire hall with Sunday School at 10 a.m. followed by church service at 11 a.m.
Tax-deductible contributions for the rebuilding fund may be sent to the Somerton United Methodist Church, 55400 Washington St., Somerton, OH 43713.