Church to mark 60 years
PARKERSBURG – The First Evangelical Methodist Church at 1906 Gihon Road will celebrate its 60th anniversary on Oct. 13.
The celebration will begin with the 10 a.m. service and continuing afterward in the Family Center with a meal and other activities.
The history of the church will be displayed in pictures taken during the past 60 years. Leading up to Sunday’s homecoming are services 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Anyone who has attended the church or has an interest in it is invited.
Past pastors of the church have been invited.
The church, then named Life Gospel Tabernacle, was established in 1943 on Gladstone Street. Under the pastorate of the Rev. Raymond Deem, the church united with the Evangelical Methodist organization in 1953.
Among the most tenured members of the church is Correne Wright, who has been a member for 65 years. Her daughter, Becky Blankenship, attends church with her mother.
Wright attends nearly every service except on rare occasions when she has no ride.
She started at the church at Gladstone Street and has attended under the ministry of 16 pastors, one being her son, Charles, who is a pastor of a church in Maryland. As an ordained elder of the church, Wright has preached many times at her church and other churches, although she has never pastored a church.
Wright is often requested by Pastor Jeff Williamson to preach and pray.
Deem pastored the church until 1964 when the Rev. William Dillon became pastor. Under Dillon’s leadership, property was purchased and a parsonage was built in 1965.
The Rev. Thurman Slusser became the third pastor in 1969. Under his leadership in 1972, the church purchased the property to build a church at 1906 Gihon Road.
A pastoral change came in 1973 with the Rev. Don Byrnes. The new church was completed in 1974.
The Rev. Neal Anderson, who started in 1975, pastored the church for the next nine years. Many improvements were added to the ministry of the church in this time period.
In 1984 the church was saddened by the death of its pastor. In that same year, the Rev. Floyd B’Hymer became pastor.
Positive changes continued. Youth and music ministries flourished and church attendance grew to nearly 400. The new Family Center was dedicated in 1985.
The Rev. Robert Sutton became the pastor in 1987 and in 1988, the church underwent extensive remodeling with the installation of a baptistry. In 1990 the church participated in a citywide crusade and the following year joined in a community Thanksgiving service.
The Rev. Mike McPherson and the Rev. Harry Dull served the church until the Rev. Larry Piatt was hired in 1993. Under his 11-year ministry the church celebrated being debt free, held youth revivals and baptized many people.
The church continued its involvement in the community, participating in the National Day of Prayer and the March for Jesus. The church participated in Holy Week services that included all south Parkersburg churches.
The Bread of Life ministry of the church served hot meals to the needy each month and gave monthly to the Food Pantry of the Salvation Army.
From 2004 to 2008, Brad Easley and the Rev. David Walters served as pastors. In 2008 the current minister, Pastor Jeff Williamson, came to the church.
His theme echoes the words of Jesus when He proclaimed, “My Father’s house shall be called a house of prayer.”