St. John’s UCC Fourth & Faith opens in Dover

St. John’s UCC Fourth & Faith opens in Dover

Image Credit: Scott Daniels

It is a problem common to many older, more traditional protestant congregations: how to bring younger families into the pews on Sunday morning.

St. John’s United Church of Christ in Dover has added space to try and do just that. The newly opened Fourth & Faith offers space for community events and a full sanctuary aimed at creating an all new, more up-to-date weekly contemporary service.

A grand opening event was held at the new building, located next door to the main church on March 10. The church is more than 140 years old, with a congregation dating to the 1830s.

“We are in that process right now,” said Dave Gingerich of St. John’s congregation. “We are looking at a more contemporary service and what that might look like. We want to create the kind of service that younger families will find attractive.”

The new space began life long ago as a Ford dealership, then was a motorcycle dealer. Along the way, the church purchased the building and when the last tenant moved out, the decision was made to renovate the 10,000 square foot structure for community use and added worship space.

The project began last year with temporary youth leader Mark Perry giving the nudge to get things underway. The building was mostly gutted, with all new flooring, walls, restrooms, lighting and a small kitchen installed. The space is decorated with artwork by local artists.

“The new space will be in addition to our more traditional service,” said Gingerich. “So we will be able to serve those who appreciate each style of worship.” Gingerich was heavily involved in the construction project. “It’s an expensive experiment for us, but we wanted to do everything we can to invite younger families to church and continue the long legacy of St. Johns,” he said. The church has already received many requests to use the building once it was completed.

“It has gone slower than we wanted,” said Perry, “but it is coming along really well now. We actually had a small Lenten service in the new building last week. Seeing it finished now, the building is better than we thought it would be, so the long process is worth it.”

Local firms were employed for the construction project. Doug Peterman of Peterman Plumbing and Heating handled those parts of the project. “We had a vision for the building, and with the help of a lot of good contractors and supervision by Benchmark Construction, it all became a reality,” Peterman said. Contractors who assisted with the building project include HSB Architects, Bear Electric, McKeever Decorating, Henry Heating and Cooling, Midland Brightwood Door, Moore’s Communications and others.

Gingerich said the congregation at St. John’s has been very supportive of turning the old building into a fresh new community space. “Everyone is, I think, on the same page with wanting to do something that speaks to younger parishioners. We live in an area with an aging population, and while we may enjoy the more traditional service, if it takes a different style of service to attract young adults, then we are eager to offer that.”

A regular schedule of services for the new building had not yet been established at the time of the grand opening event.

Fourth & Faith is on the corner of Wooster Avenue and 4th Streets. See the St. John’s UCC website at doverstjohns.org, find them on Facebook for regular updates, or call the church office at 330-364-4458.


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