This video will challenge individuals, primarily high school and college students, to come out of a culturally imposed intellectual darkness, to stop acting like mushrooms thriving in the dark and to think for themselves. It presents a comprehensive pro-life message to a new generation of young people about the humanity of the preborn child and gruesome realities of abortion.
Adult Bible Fellowship—Wednesday, October 15th - 6:30 PM in the fellowship hall. Biblical Manhood: Masculinity, Leadership and Decision Making.
How does a man know if he is a ‘real man’? The answers can be discovered in Scripture. Whether you are single or married, this will be a valuable study. Appendices include critical help to combat the temptation of sexual lust, one of the most destructive areas for the single man, the husband and his family. Pastor Mark: 419-485-8229, email@example.com
Ladies Prayer & Bible Study—There will be no Bible study on the 15th or 22nd. You will resume on Wednesday, October 29th at 6:30 PM in the Sanctuary. Monica Monachino: 419-459-4999, firstname.lastname@example.org
Upcoming Events and Notes of Interest
Introduction to BCC—Sunday, October 19th from 12:30–3:30 PM. This class is designed to acquaint you with Bridgewater Community Church and the various aspects of our ministry. The class is required for membership, but attending the class does not obligate you to join. You can ask any question you might have about the Bible, Christianity, our church, etc. You will be introduced to the biblical truths that drive our philosophy and ministry. This course is free and lunch is provided. Pastor Mark will answer all your questions so you can decide if Bridgewater is right for you; learn how you can get involved! There is a sign-up sheet at the Welcome Center. Pastor Mark: 419-485-8229, email@example.com
Operation Christmas Child—It’s that time of the year already for us to start collecting gifts for OCC. The deadline date for us to collect the gifts is November 16th. We will be packing the boxes and praying for the children who receive them on Wednesday, November 19th beginning at 6:30 PM. There is a collection box in the foyer.
Project Respect of Northwest Ohio—Project Respect is looking for a part-time after-school classroom presenter to work with students grades K-12, engaging youth in positive character development. If you, or someone you know is interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for an application.
CPC Volunteers Needed—The CPC Fall Training Seminar is scheduled for November 6, 7, 10 & 11 from 8:30am to 12:30pm at the Bryan CPC. Especially needed are volunteer counselors, nurses and receptionists in all 4 locations (Bryan, Defiance, Napoleon & Wauseon), and Hotline workers. This 4-morning seminar costs only $10 which covers the cost of the manual. Please call Gina at 419-636-5692 for information or to register.
* You many also find additional BCC events under the “2013 Sermons” tab, under “Special Events.”
The Bridgewater Community Church is located in the western part of Bridgewater Township in Section 29. It is situated on a tract of land on County Road No. 8 one and one fourth miles north of U.S. 20. For many years it was a member of the Ohio Sandusky Conference of the United Brethren in Christ. In its history the church has been known by a number of names. The first group of believers before they had a church building called themselves the Shiloh Church. After the completion of the new building, the group was incorporated as the Liberty Chapel Church. Locally, also it has been known as the Waterston Church, the West Bridgewater Church, and the Bridgewater United Brethren. Since June, 1974 it is now called officially the Bridgewater Community Church. Throughout the balance of this paper it will be referred to as the Liberty Church or Liberty Chapel.
By the late 1830’s and early 1840’s, the first settlers started to arrive in Bridgewater Township. At first they came quite slowly for by that time the Civil War broke out, there were only fifty eight men in the whole Township who were liable for military duty. In those early years circuit riders made periodic visits in the Township. From this several denominations started religious classes in some of the communities. These first classes either met in the members’ homes or in local schoolhouses where there were any. Reverend Aaron Lilly and Reverend David H. Homes were instrumental in starting United Brethren classes. Reverend Holmes’s group met first in the Brandeberry Schoolhouse near Ainger. When they decided to build a church, Reverend Miller was their leader. This was in 1871. During the next fifteen years, five other frame churches were built in the Township as follows:
COGSWELL CHURCH (interdenominational) in the southeast part
DEAN CHURCH (Church of God) in the southern part
BRIDGEWATER (Methodist) in the central part
NORTH BRIDGEWATER (Church of God) in the northern part
HAY JAY (interdenominational at first, and the Church of the Brethren) in the northwest part.
Only three of these buildings are standing now. However the church at Bridgewater Center was abandoned in 1924. In 1928, it was purchased by the Bridgewater Township Trustees and converted into a Township Hall and Community Center. Sometime during the 1890’s, the Hay Jay building was abandoned for church services and changed into a family residence and a country store. In 1923 it was moved away to become a part of a farmer’s barn. In 1917, both the Dean Church and the Cogswell Church burned.
The United Brethren class that first met in the Brandeberry Schoolhouse was made up of the following members: Conrad and Jane Brandeberry, William and Catherine Rainey, John and Sarah Rainey, Lucina Covell, and a few others. By 1878 the membership of the Liberty Chapel Church had increased to forty six. Since many of the descendants live in the community now, it was thought appropriate to list here the 1878 roll. It is as follows: Benjamin Ansley, Maggie Ansley, Catherine Ansley, John Ansley, William Ansley, Ann Ansley, Edward Ansley, Conrad Brandeberry, Jane Brandeberry, Josiah Boyer, Lydia Boyer, Elias Brown, Mary Brown, Lucina Covell, Catherine Crawford, Levi Culbertson, Caroline Culbertson, Jacob W. Davis, Sarah J. Davis, Rebecca J. Davis, John Gardner, Mary Ann Gardner, Huldah Gardner, M.G. Johnson, R. B. Johnson, V. A. Johnson, Isodine F. Johnson, Arwilda Laus, Henry Kaiser, John McClain, Daniel Parker, Priscilla Parker, Eli Parker, Mrs. Parks, Julia Parker, John Rainey, J.W. Rainey, Sarah E. Rainey, Sarah Rainey, William Rainey, Susanna Strong, Hubert Tingle, James Waterson, and Emily Waterson. Pastors Holmes, Crossland, Cross, Miller, Stewart, Tittle, Brown, Bundy and Bowersox, served the church for varying lengths of time during its first forty years of history. Josiah Boyer and William were listed as lay pastors during this time.
In the year of 1871 five eighths of an acre of land was purchased for fifteen dollars of Simon Waterston for a church site. William Rainey, Josiah Boyer, and John Gardner were Church Trustees at this time. John W. Wisman and William Wisman were hired to build the church. The total cost came to $1,563.00. Example of some of the materials used are:
2 sills 8” x 10” 60 ft. long
5 sills 8” x 10” 40 ft. long
5 beams 7” x 9” 40 ft. long
162 rafters 2” x 5” 26 ft. long
1380 feet 1” x 12” 16 ft. long
Additional expense for equipment for the building included stonewall, $43.00; two stoves, $48.86; carpet, $33.59; lamps, $25.10 window curtains, $14.00; three chairs, $6.00. This brought the total cost of the building to $1,733.75. Money was raised by subscriptions from many of the people who lived in the vicinity plus personal notes given by the Trustees. The building was not completed until the spring of 1872. Formal dedication services were held June 9, 1872. Following the moving into the new church a Sunday School was organized.
Records beginning in 1871 and running through to 1899 show that William Rainey, Josiah Boyer, John Gardner, James Waterston, John N. Boyer, W. L. Hollaway, and John McClain served as Church Trustees during this period. It is especially noteworthy that Josiah Boyer served as Secretary of this Board through all those years. All of the records were written in longhand and his penmanship was fantastic. It seems that the Board of Trustees held meetings annually and that the principal item of business each time was paying the bills for the operation of the Church. It is of interest to note the prices paid during this period. The total bill for the 1875 meeting was $35.00 – the sexton was paid $24.00, fuel was $6.00, and $4.00 was paid for oil and brooms. The entire bills in 1892 amounted to $10.00 and for 1898, $13.50. J. K. Bechtol was the secton for many years and was paid from $7.50 to $25.00 per year. The only record of pastor’s salary shows at one time. Rev. A.B. Lill was paid $49.82 and Rev. W. H. Clay was given an offering of $17.19. Not until 1914 could any mention be found of an annual salary. At that time Rev. David Heinlin was paid $500.00.
In 1889, there was a serious division in the United Brethren Church. This resulted from the Conference adopting a newer declaration of faith. Throughout the United Brethren Church those who would not accept this change organized a branch denomination. Since that time, one branch was known as the Radical United Brethren in Christ, and the other, the Liberal United Brethren in Christ. The Liberty Chapel Church became identified the latter denomination. In 1950 there was a merger of the Liberal United Brethren congregations with the Evangelical Church. The denomination thus formed became known as the Evangelical United Brethren. Eighteen years later another merger was completed by the Evangelical United Brethren going together with the Methodist Episcopal Church to form the United Methodist denomination. The congregation at Liberty terminated their affiliation with the United Methodist Church in 1974 and then organized the Bridgewater Community Church and called Reverend Dan Martin of St. Clair Shores, Michigan, to become its first pastor.
No records could be found concerning the Church’s history for the years between 1899 and 1912. However, services must have been maintained. In 1903, Mr. and Mrs. John Lougheed moved into the neighborhood and became active in the Church and remained so the rest of their lives.
Evidently about this time Liberty Chapel became a part of the Northwest Circuit of the Sandusky Conference. Then pastors who came to Liberty Chapel Church were assigned by the Conference. At one time five churches were on the circuit – Whaley, where the parsonage was, (about three miles west and north of Cooney, Ohio); South Camden and Beulah (just over the line in Michigan); Valley View (five miles west of Montpelier, Ohio); and Liberty Chapel. The magnitude of the problem of one pastor serving all these churches is difficult for us to comprehend today. Some of the churches were as much as twelve to fifteen miles away from the parsonage. As a rule the pastor held services at each place at least every other Sunday in addition to a Revival in each place every year. Worship services were scheduled either before or after Sunday School, in the evening, and even afternoon services were not uncommon. The coming of the automobile made the problem somewhat lighter. Perhaps the last of the “horse and buggy” preachers was Reverend Charles Moger (1916-1918). This writer remembers on certain occasions when Reverend and Mrs. Moger came to his parents’ home to stay for several days at a time. Their horse name “Birdie” was badly pampered and really fared well. In 1932, following the close of the United Brethren Church in Pioneer, Ohio, the Pleasant Grove Church, five miles east of Montpelier, Ohio was added to the circuit. And for a short time (1952-1953) United Brethren pastors held services at the Salem Church (four miles northeast of Pioneer, Ohio). By 1950, Liberty Chapel Church, with the Salem exception was the only one of all these churches it had been identified with, that still kept its doors open. The South Camden Church burned in 1916 and Beulah Church closed its doors in 1917. After the Whaley church was closed in 1939, the building was torn down and the adjoining parsonage was sold. The church at Valley View was closed in 1944. The building was sold and moved to South East Avenue, Montpelier, Ohio, where it is now the home of the Williams County Play House. The building at Pleasant Grove, too, was moved into Montpelier after its closing in 1949 and is now the home of the Baptist Church on Brown Road.
When the building of the Liberty Chapel was completed in spring of 1872, it set north and south just as it does today. However, there have been many changes made in it since. But it was forty five years later before any were made. Originally there were four large rectangular windows on either side and there were two doors in each end. The brick chimney was built at the south of the present rostrum. As a person looks at the interior of the church today it is difficult to visualize the church when it was that small. There was no platform or rostrum in the original building. The pews were made of wide boards and were painted a dull creamy color. The pews were arranged in three sections – a small section on the outside of each of the two aisles that began at the doors in the rear. The rest of the pews were arranged in a large block in the center of the room. Evidently at some time all the ladies who attended church sat on one side of the building and the men sat on the opposite side. Midway in the sections on the outside of the aisles was a heating stove. Stovepipe from each of these met near the center of the ceiling, and then turning at right angles and paralleling each other extended to the chimney in the front of the building. This seemed like “miles and miles” of black stovepipe. It was not only difficult to install, it was hard to maintain.
Not until 1916 and 1917 was any attempt made to change the building. The first change was the building of a stage or a rostrum across the front of the room. It was about eight inches high and was about six feet wide. It extended from the east door at the south end to the west wall thus permanently closing the west door. A close examination of the flooring in front of the present rostrum would give a hint as to the dimension of this first improvement.
The next improvement came in 1918 when it was learned that the Beulah Church was closing and that the pews, the pulpit, and the bell could be purchased. Thus the Liberty Chapel obtained these things. When installed the pews were arrange in much the same order as they are arranged at the present time, the only exception the missing pew on each side to accommodate the heating stoves. Now with a center aisle the next change was the closing of the two doors in the rear of the church and the construction of a door in the center. If a person looks carefully at the wall today he can see where the old doors were located. Building a vestibule outside the new center door then completed this phase of improvements.
By 1944 the increased growth of the church demanded more room. Several alternatives were considered. Finally a basement was decided as an answer for the problem. In doing this, a basement was built immediately west of the church building and when this was completed, the building was moved the width of itself upon the new basement. There had been a need for a local parsonage since the close of Whaley Church. During this time the church had been renting local homes in the neighborhood. Finally in 1946 a small house was purchased of E. M. Anspaugh who lived near Edon, Ohio, for the sum of $500.00. The building was moved to its present site in the church yard. Willis Osborn was hired to make the necessary changes in the building so as to provide living quarters. Reverence Clarence Carnahan and his family were the first to live in the newly finished parsonage. A few years later when the Hanover family were its occupants, the parsonage was enlarged to its present size by adding another section on the east. There was still a need for more room for the growing congregation. So in 1953 an extension was added to the south end of the original building making the dimension of the church the same as they are now. This addition provided a new rostrum, two large classrooms, and a lavatory upstairs, as well as much more classrooms downstairs. At this time, the church lot was enlarged to provide more parking space. An “L” shaped piece of land four rods wide on the south side and six rods wide along the west side of the original lot was donated by the owner of the adjacent land, Mr. John Lougheed. Funds to finance all these projects mostly came from local contributions and pledges. However when the Pleasant Grove Church was sold Sandusky Conference turned over the proceeds from the sale to the Liberty Chapel Church to be applied to their building program. Needless to say that none of these projects could have been completed had it not been for the hundreds of hours of labor donated by the members and many others in the neighborhood. Other changes made in late years included the addition of the security light and the enclosing of the bell steeple in 1962, and in 1961 exchanging the pews for newer ones that were purchased from the Methodist Church at Grover Hill, Ohio.
A graph showing the average Sunday School attendance for most of the last sixty years has been prepared and can be seen in the church. It is noted that in the years of 1912 and again in the year of 1939 and 1940 the average attendance per week was twenty. The writer remembers many Sundays when the attendance was much less for a particular Sunday. The high years according to the graph were 1958 and 1959 when the average for those years reached 100 and 107. The highest attendance for any one day on record was 165.
An account of the days gone by would not be complete with what has been said thus far. There are many memories concerning the leaders, organizations, special meetings, and various activities to be included, too, that all contributed to our heritage from the past. We look with interest on the role of officers for 1921-1922 at who the leaders were then. That role is as follows: Superintendent, Charles E. Boyer; Assist. Superintendent, George McLaughline; Secretary, Mazel Smith; Assistant, Dorothy Bechtol; Treasurer, Carma Bechtol; Organist, Helen Boyer; Asst. Minnie Lougheed; Chorister, Ora Bechtol; Steward Roscoe Wisman, Treasurer, Jane Kohl. A ladies aid was organized in the community in 1914 and continued to function until just a few years ago. They did much in sponsoring community projects and projects to be held in the church. In 1945, a Women’s Missionary Society with nineteen charter members was organized and was active as long as the church was in the Sandusky Conference. Their work well represented the missionary arm of the church. Revivals were held nearly every year. Some were remembered better than others for varying reasons. In 1932, Eddie Habeggar and John Neusbaum, two young evangelists from Fort Wayne, Indiana, held one that was well remembered. During the pastorate of Reverend Henry Brooks, thirty three decisions were made in the Revival. Pastors Garrison Roebuch, Francis McCracken, Claude Chivington, and Evangelist Harold Walker, also held successful meetings. Reverend Robert Priest who is presently a pastor in the state of Kansas, and Reverend Darrell Beck, Angola, Indiana, have been the only two persons from Liberty Chapel who entered full time ministry. During the 1930’s and the 1940’s much interest was shown in the Williams-Defiance County United Brethren Men’s Brotherhood that met bi-monthly. Meetings usually started in the late afternoon with Chorus practice, then an evening meal, and then the main program for the evening. This included music by the Brotherhood Chorus, a featured speaker, and a count of the men and boys to determine which church could have possession of the Attendance Banner. The Liberty Church won its share of the contests. Many remember going to Hicksville, Defiance, Bryan, and Montpelier to these Brotherhood meetings. Perhaps, some remembered these meetings when Liberty was the host. Since the church was too small for such meetings, the meetings here had to be in the summer. It was a task that required the cooperation of all in getting the necessary food, all the extra chairs, and bringing in farmers’ hayracks to make a rostrum out in the yard under the trees.
Reverend E.E. Roberts moved into this area in 1925. He was a man of many talents. He taught school in the local schools, filled in as a supply minister on occasion, and enjoyed singing. The men in the Valley View and Whaley areas had organized a men’s chorus that met together from time to time. They were known as the Plough Boys. After some time Reverend Roberts became the director of the group. It wasn’t long until he was inviting some of the men at Liberty to accompany him to these rehearsals either at Whaley or Valley View. As a results of this, with the encouragement of Reverend Roberts, a local men’s quartet was formed. This quartet came to be known as the Liberty Four. They sang at many church services in the area as well as in community programs of various types. The Liberty Four had the privilege of singing together over a period of more than twenty year with but little change in its membership. Gerald Waterson, Virgil Lougheed, Lester Lougheed, and Floyd Gardner were the original four. After Virgil Lougheed left the neighborhood, a number of other people filled in the second tenor spot. Among these, at different times were Arden Smith, Wellington Wilson, Cecil Moore, Marion Moore, Rev. Harold Doyle and Alden Leslie. Equally important were the ladies which acted as the pianist for the Quartet. Those who helped in this way included Helen Boyer, Veryl Sumner, Lois Wilson, and Carma Smith. Many memories, too, are associated with pastors who have been on this field over the years. Not only are they remembered as spiritual leaders, but many of the people at Liberty formed personal friendships with some of the pastors that were treasured long after the pastor had gone on to other fields of service. At the close of this history, I list all these former ministers arranged in chronical order with the dates of the tenure of each.
In bringing this history to a close, let us reflect anew upon the contributions made by these people of yesteryear. Certainly there were discouraging days. Certainly there were times when so few attended there were doubts as to whether the effort was worthwhile. Certainly there were days when the church was too cold or the weather was too bad. And certainly there were those time, too, when many doubted if they could hire a pastor. Much credit is due to those who kept on during those trials. Definitely there would have been no church here today if it had not been for those who through perseverance contributed so much. With a century back of us, let those of us who are here today determine in our own minds to do even more than these, many of which had so little but did so much.
|Charles E. Moger||1916-1918|
|Charles E. Longbrake||1918-1920|
|Harvey L. Garberson||1922-1923|
|Paul J. Strouse||1928-1930|
|Robert A. Risley||1937-1938|
|Francis J. McCracken||1939-1942|
|Harold E. Doyle||1942-1944|
|Ralph J. Oyer||1942-1944|
|Claude E. Chivington||1944-1947|
|Clarence L. Carnahan||1947-1950|
|Henry W. Brooks||1951-1953|
|Joseph L. Phillips||1953-1954|
|Marion L. Hanover||1957-1963|
|Robert E. Breese||1966-1968|
|J. Harlan Wright||1971-1973|
|Carl T. Frack||1976-1979|
|Mark D. Pitman||2009-current|
The writer spent much time in seeking information for this account. “A History of the County of Williams” Goodspeed: 1882) was the main source of information concerning the founding of the church. Much time was spent in going over old records such as Sunday School records, records of proceedings of Boards of Trustees, and minutes of Quarterly Conferences. Since the writer has been a life resident of the community he depended upon his memory for much of the material. Consequently some of the readers will find some errors and inconsistencies. But to the best of his knowledge he declares all material is based upon fact. Much of the mater, too, was obtained in conversations with others. A special note of thanks is extended to Mr. and Mrs. E. W. Boyer, Gerald Waterson, Lester Lougheed, and Reverend Dan Martin.
FLOYD M. GARDNER