Nov. 8 dawned gray and blustery, but the skies cleared and the sun shone as Pastors Roland and Charlene Mitchell and members and friends of the Hocking Hills United Methodist Church gathered to break ground for their new church at 13580 Maysville-Williams Road in Logan.
Dr. Dennis Miller, superintendent of the Foothills District of The United Methodist Church, commended the Hocking Hills UMC congregation for its vision for the future and determination to build on that vision. “We build for those who are yet to come. We build for the future,” Dr. Miller said.
Hocking Hills UMC knows about building for the future, having been “built” as the result of a merger between two downtown churches, the former Trinity United Methodist and Immanuel United Methodist. Since July 2013, the members of these blended churches have pressed forward with a firm commitment to build a new, state-of-the-art facility to better meet the needs of their growing congregation and the local community. Katherine Kudlapur, co-chair of the church’s leadership board, recalled that the first service of the newly formed church was held at Logan-Hocking Middle School. “At that time,” she said, “we had no idea that our future home would be right across the street.”
The church partnered with the McKnight Group, an architectural firm in Grove City, Ohio, on the design for the new facility. Philip Tipton, architect in charge of the project, was among several members of the firm to attend the groundbreaking. He said he was continually encouraged by the church’s Building Design Team, headed by Neil Hinton, because they were completely focused on how to use their facility as a tool for ministry. “The church has been very intentional in building for people who haven’t even come yet,” he said. “And it has been humbling and gratifying to be part of their process.”
Rev. Roland Mitchell, lead pastor of Hocking Hills UMC, echoed these sentiments, remarking, “It is every pastor’s dream to have a core group of people behind you with such a strong sense of commitment to following the vision that God has set before us.” It has not been an easy road, however, and the pastors and church board members are quick to say that a tough seven years fostered a bond of unity between them that comes from going through such hardships together. “Many times we encountered such seemingly insurmountable obstacles that we knew if God didn’t intervene, it just wasn’t going to happen,” Rev. Mitchell said. “But we fasted and prayed and kept our eyes on the vision, and here we are today at this exciting moment, this historical moment.”
“Today we begin a new chapter of sharing the Gospel in our community,” said Mrs. Kudlapur. “Jesus said to ‘go out into the world and tell people about me, help them and forgive them.’ That’s always been the primary message of our church: ‘We give, we forgive and we love.’”
Rev. Charlene Mitchell, Pastor of Care and Support Ministries at the church, closed the event by saying, “We pray that this building will be a witness of our faith to our children, and an inspiration to the community and the world.”
As the pastors, leadership board and others prepared to break ground, attendees opened small bags of soil taken from that location in 2015 as part of their “Plant, Water, Grow” capital campaign. With soil from years gone by returning to its origin, shovelfuls of new dirt were turned over for the new facility. Construction begins this month.
Rev. Mitchell invited anyone in the community who is looking for a church home to join the congregation of Hocking Hills United Methodist Church for worship. “All are welcome to be a part of our church. We offer real ministry for real people and we’d love to share the ministry of our church with you.” Hocking Hills UMC currently holds services at the Scenic Hills Senior Center, 187 S. Spring Street, Logan. Worship times are 9 a.m. (traditional) and 11 a.m. (modern). Services are also live-streamed at www.hockinghillsumc.com.
This article was submitted by Hocking Hills United Methodist Church and has been edited by The Logan Daily News.