Over six decades ago, ground was broken and a foundation built for a house of worship on State Route 108, just north of the Fulton County Fairgrounds.
This month, North Dover United Methodist Church, the place where hundreds of Christians have gathered over the years, said goodbye to its longstanding familiar era to merge with Zion United Methodist Church of rural Wauseon.
After four years as the full-time pastor, and with a few years spent on an interim basis before that, Pastor Don Krieger is somewhat saddened to see the cease of operation at the facilities. But he rejoices in the fact that two bodies in Christ will now become one.
“It was a very vital church. As a high schooler, we used to have area youth rallies at North Dover. Those were good times,” he said.
The decision to merge was not taken lightly, according to Krieger. The church leadership looked at the declining membership and the age of the congregation. That led to prayer and observation about how the congregation could best carry the will of God, and a plan to come to a consensus after six months.
“It was a long process for us,” Krieger said.
The leadership returned to assess the matter, specifically asking five main questions: Have we attracted any new families? Have we ministered to our children? Did we minister to the youth? Can we survive financially? Are we truly being a church?
“We are not being a church by just being here,” Krieger said.
Subsequently, the church found it could not honestly answer all of the questions with an affirmative answer. Thus, the merger with Zion UMC began.
The merger, however, seems to be a good fit for everyone. After all, Pastor Krieger grew up attending Zion, and served as the full-time minister there for numerous years, long before filling the need at North Dover.
While Zion has more of a youth audience than North Dover had, Krieger feels gaps are being closed in all respects, especially from North Dover’s elders.
“Zion is in need of spiritual maturity and leadership, and life experience, too,” he said.
Although the landmark will no longer host the special musical concerts, hold its community coat closet, or be home to the wide range of members it once sheltered, a new era will begin in time.
“Our immediate goal is to get to know the members (of the churches) both ways, and we’ll grow from there,” Krieger said.
Reach Cory Johnson at email@example.com