Church of God, 1059 Rozella Road, Warsaw, parishioners are looking for a different church to attend as the last service at the church was Aug. 14.
Chad Briscoe, lay leader at Church of God, said the decision to close the church was made in mid-July due to the decline of the congregation. Their pastor, Tim Kumper, retired in October and the church couldn’t afford a full-time pastor. There were no pastors in their denomination that could come and take on the church.
Pastor Emeritus Gerald Yoder, who has been a member of the church for 30 years, said the highest membership the Church of God had was about 320 people and that was back in the late 1930s. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the church had 50 or 60 members.
Ervin Bolt, board of trustees member, said the final nail in the coffin for the church was the church closing during the pandemic. Yoder said the church had about 35 members since the church reopened after the pandemic.
Between October 2021 and Aug. 14, 2022, Briscoe and Yoder took up leadership roles in the church.
A merger with another church was discussed, which the church pursued, but Briscoe said the church’s bylaws didn’t allow for that. According to the bylaws, the church had to become a legacy church. A vote was put to the congregation of whether to follow the church’s bylaws and close the doors or not. The decision was made to follow the church’s bylaws.
Briscoe said, hopefully, church members will find other churches to attend, with the nearest Church of God churches in North Webster and Akron.
Briscoe said the church didn’t close sooner because the church had a contract with Sacred Heart School for the past two years. Sacred Heart used the Church of God building for its preschool and the Church of God had to honor that contract until the end of the school year.
The land will be put up for sale. Briscoe said the church is in conversations with Warsaw Community Schools, along with other interested parties, about the property.
The church has been on Rozella Road for decades.
Bolt helped build the current building on Rozella Road, along with other parishioners. He said parishioners started building at the Rozella Road property in 1974 and opened its doors in 1975. The church itself started in about 1911 and, before the church was at Rozella Road, it used to be on Buffalo Street in the area where Marsh used to be.
Bolt said when he heard the church was closing, he was devastated. He said he hasn’t figured out which church he’ll go to yet.
Briscoe said the Church of God had a wonderful congregation and “we will greatly miss the community” it had.
Yoder said the closure of the church was sad. He’ll have to figure out where he’ll attend service and it may take some time to do that as he spent so much time at Church of God and called it home.