Hope United Methodist Church has a diverse history dating back to 1841. Through just short of two centuries, Hope Church has seen the foundations of a city, the innovation of flight, and the richness of God’s love. Year after year, Hope’s congregation has faithfully sought after God, taught the Scripture and served its community. Its rich heritage has included three mergers bringing together faithful believers in their pursuit of God. Here is our story.
History of Wayne Avenue Evangelical Church
The roots of Wayne Avenue Church reach far back in the life of the East Dayton community.
A group of 12 German-speaking Christians organized the First Evangelical Church in 1841 at the corner of Fifth and Walnut Streets. In 1851, a new, larger building was erected on that corner. As the membership grew, a new church was built in 1875 on Commercial Street and continued there until the merger with Wayne Avenue in May, 1927.
In 1884, a group of young people, members of Raper Methodist Church, were meeting in a store room on Wayne Avenue owned by a Mr. Billet. At the same time, some young people from First Evangelical Church wanted to start an English-speaking church and became interested in the Billet Mission Project. The Billet Project sought support from the Methodist Church but it was denied. The group then appealed to the Evangelical Conference for aid and received it. A minister and a building committee were appointed and a site at Wayne and Xenia Avenues was purchased. In October of 1888 the church was dedicated.
By 1905, the organization had outgrown its building facilities and a new structure was dedicated on November 24, 1907. As the need for a German-speaking church diminished, merger talks began and in May 1927, the First and Wayne Avenue Churches met together for the first time under the name of Wayne Avenue Evangelical Church.
1946 saw the merger of the Evangelical Church and the Church of the United
Brethren in Christ. The name of the new merged church now became known as the Evangelical United Brethren Church.
The Wayne Avenue Church continued to grow and in 1956 a new educational unit was completed which enabled the congregation to enlarge their program of worship and Christian service.
April 1968 was another historic date which saw the merger of the Evangelical United Brethren Churches with the Methodist Churches under the name of United Methodist Church.
During the early 1960s, plans were formulated, by the state of Ohio, for Expressway 35 to be constructed through East Dayton. Many homes were demolished, streets closed, and businesses closed. There were no longer enough homes in the neighborhood to support the three United Methodist Churches in this area. Due to the fact that Wayne Avenue’s property was the most valuable commercially, it was decided to sell the property and relocate. After much thought and deliberation, an overture was made by Wayne Avenue to Hope United Methodist Church for affiliation. It was accepted and plans were finalized for the merger. The two congregations met for the first time on June 13, 1971.
History of High Street United Brethren Church
In the spring of 1865, the First United Brethren Church organized a small Mission Sunday School on Allen Street in East Dayton. After sixteen years as a Mission Sunday School, the first pastor was appointed in 1881 and a church was organized with twelve charter members. The church on High Street was named High Street United Brethren in Christ and became self-supporting.
The church grew rapidly and it became necessary to build a larger church. In 1910, ground was broken for a new building at High and Richard Streets.
The merger of the United Brethren in Christ Church and the Evangelical Church of America was completed in 1946. The name of the new church now became the Evangelical United Brethren Church.
On August 17, 1960 disaster struck. The church building was heavily damaged by fire. The loss was covered by insurance, but it was discovered that the ground on which the building stood was included in the Expressway 35 right-of-way program. The future was uncertain.
In November of that year, the congregation voted to accept ten acres of land on Wilmington Pike, donate by the Ohio Miami Conference, applying the insurance check and proceeds from the sale of the building on High Street toward the building of a new structure.
Ground was broken in August, 1961 and on September 30, 1962 the first services were held on Wilmington Pike. The name of the church was changed to Christ Evangelical United Brethren Church.
Another historic year was 1968 when the Evangelical United Brethren Churches and the Methodist Churches united. Because there was already in existence a Christ United Methodist Church, another name change for the
congregation became necessary. Hope United Methodist Church was selected.
In early 1971, Hope and Wayne Avenue Churches discussed the possibility of a merger, and on June 13, 1971, the Wayne Avenue congregation moved to the Wilmington Pike location and their first united service was conducted.
The membership continued to grow with many new, young families. In 1996, plans were made to expand the facility due to overcrowding. An educational wing was designed and built, including new classrooms, restrooms, and office space.
Now, 175 years after this church’s beginning, the future is before us. Our church now stands as a memorial to the devotion and sacrifice of those of the preceding generations. We look forward with HOPE to see what God has in store for us and for future generations.