August 1, 1975 LaMar, Sarah, our nearly eight-month daughter, and I moved into our home. We had lived in Monroeville when we first got married and went to LaMar’s home church in Bellevue. Before we had moved to Norwalk, we had planned to visit some of the churches in Norwalk before we made a final decision about where we would regularly attend. We chose to attend the First Church first as we did know the Pierces and the Emmons already. Rev. Wilbur Meiser was the minister and on the following Monday, he came to visit us. I realize the proximity of our house to the church probably had something to do with the prompt visitation, however I feel that it was the hand of God that led us to become members with the next new members’ class.
La Mar and I quickly became involved with the church getting to know people with whom we have shared over forty years of fellowship. Our family grew both in number and stature, while we all grew in our relationships with the Lord through the many programs offered here at First Church – attending and teaching Sunday School, Jr. and Sr. choirs, 3 D -Diet, Disciple, and Discipleship, UMW, UMM, Bible studies, VBS, serving on various Church committees, helping with charity events, youth fellowship, youth leaders, helping with funeral dinners, community dinners. Many of you have also shared in these opportunities and have experienced the warm Christian fellowship and growth available here at First Church.
In May of 1978, La Mar accepted the part-time position as custodian of the entire church which was to last that summer. He remained at this position into the 1990s when the good Lord saw fit to open a fulltime teaching job for me at the high school. The Lord used the two of us at the high school to minister to others in different capacities – both at church and at NHS. When we both retired from teaching, the Lord called LaMar back to a similar position here at the church when Ted McClaran retired as maintenance man. As such, he also serves as an advisor to the Trustees because he knows the building so well.
Our church family is very important to our family. It has provided the foundation for our faith walk. It is here that we have grown up so to speak in the Lord. This church -you, the congregation and those leaders God has placed here -have provided a firm foundation of faith for our entire family. You have prayed for us, laughed and cried with us. You have provided food, fellowship, and your love for us. We praise and thank our heavenly Father for providing this nurturing and strong foundation We pray that we as a congregation can provide that foundation to many others for many years.
Right now we are at a turning point in our church’s life. Our building needs some REAL attention – not only making it look better on the inside, but for taking care of some real issues on the outside of the building starting with the roof , windows and the tuck pointing that need to be addressed. The church is in need of funds in order that we may once again enjoy the true beauty of this historical building built in the 1890s – over 100 years ago. We want to do God’s bidding – to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world – but many who visit are turned off by the declining physical appearance of this majestic building.
As many of you know, this building provides meeting places for not only our church activities such as 1st Kids, Pathfinders, UMW, Firelands District and Conference activities, funeral and community dinners, but also several community groups including AA, Alanon, CAC, Norwalk United Fund, Red Cross (blood drives), 4H and Scouts. The fellowship hall and kitchen are used by members and nonmembers alike for reunions, parties and gatherings of all sorts. The building is busy – active and alive almost every night of the week.
The Lord has put our congregation in a unique location, one that is at the center of our lives as well as nearly at the center of our town. Because of its location and the willingness of this congregation, it is a vital part of the community. We need to fix the problems that are nickel and diming us as a congregation. We need to follow King David’s example and give a true sacrifice to God.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3: 15 & 17