KINGSVILLE TOWNSHIP — Kingsville Presbyterian Church is preparing to celebrate their 175th anniversary next weekend.
The church, set back from the road next to the cemetery, was founded on July 11, 1844.
The original building was destroyed by fire in the 1840s, and the current church was built to replace it, on ground donated to the church.
On Saturday, the church will host an open house, with an ice cream social, popcorn, corn hole, a fishing pond, face painting, animals from the APL, and stage coach rides.
“All things to get people to know we’re here,” Sheila Branch, chair of the church’s 175th anniversary committee, said. “A lot of people miss this little church.”
Sunday’s services will be led by Heather Dekker, a former pastor at Kingsville Presbyterian. Ina Hart, another former pastor, will speak at a dinner afterwards.
The church is also putting together a time capsule to commemorate the anniversary.
The church has also had commemorative plates made for the occasion.
“We’ve been here for a really long time,” Pastor Bill Daywalt said. “We’re (a) very welcoming, inclusive church.”
In the 1950s, the Presbyterian church merged with a Methodist church from across the street, with members of both churches voting to join together, and become a singe, Presbyterian church. The former Methodist church now serves as the fellowship hall, Daywalt said.
The 175 years the church has existed has seen a number of changes in the church, both locally and nationwide.
“We’re expanded, gone farther away. It used to everything was local,” Branch said.
“There was a point where everybody was pretty much from the neighborhood, and now, that’s clearly changed,” Daywalt added.
Nationwide, religious organizations have faced changing attitudes. “Not specific to us, but the face of evangalism was much, much different when there were no businesses open on Sunday, when schools didn’t schedule events on a Sunday. Sunday was a church day, it’s no longer that way,” Daywalt said. “I think our outreach is different than it was before, because you’re dealing with a different population, who are going to respond differently. ... That’s not us, that’s society in general.”
“We’re constantly evaluating what we’re doing, and making sure that what we are doing is relevant to the community,” Daywalt said.
“We also have a candy making project, once a year, we make hard candy,” Jan Volk, a member of the 175th anniversary committee, said. Parishioners have been making candy at the church since the 50s, Volk said in a letter.
“That’s a fundraiser, a fellowship event, and a community, because people look for it,” Daywalt said.
The church is expecting a capacity crowd for services on July 14.
“We’re going to be here another 175 (years),” Branch said.