Bexley real estate development exploded in the 1920’s. The Methodists, among other religious denominations, began organizing new congregations – first meeting October 2, 1926 in the Bexley High School auditorium at Montrose and Main Street, under the ministerial leadership of Dr. O.J. Shoop. With the committed efforts of many men and women, the membership grew to 600 by the end of the decade.
William E. (Bud) Manly, remembers participating in the first church service in the new sanctuary on the corner of Cassingham and Broad Street, January 20, 1929, having become a member in 1927 at the age of fifteen.
Lay leadership in the church, during these early years, included Herbert and Grace Cook, Lester and Neil Bush, Harley and Grace Peters and Claude and Melissa Hansberger.
The 1930’s saw the arrival of Dr. Donald H. Tippett in 1931, as senior minister, and the congregation reaching 1,000. Bud Manly, who was president of the young adults during this time, stated, “Every chance I had I got Dr. Tippett to give the program because we enjoyed him so much.”
Harry C. Moores began heading the Board of Trustees through the difficult depression years and was able to present an active church fellowship to the next senior minister – Dr. Joseph M.M. Gray – in 1941. Bud had this to say about Dr. Gray, “Dr. Gray was probably closer to me than the rest because he corresponded with me when I was in the service. He kept very much in tough with us, the boys in the service.” His leadership culminated with the completion of the education unit, which was consecrated on February 26, 1950.
With the arrival of Dr. W. Emory Hartman in 1950, the pulpit ministry continued to flourish, along with study, fellowship and services, bringing the membership to nearly 2,000. A number of associate ministers endeared themselves to the congregation, too many to mention here. Additional lay leadership was evident in such names as Noval and Virginia Goss, T. Kline and Vivian Hamilton, and Frederick Hill Jr. Ms. Mary Lou Van Buren served with distinction as Director of Christian Education during the 50’s and 60’s.
In 1959, Dr. Hiram C. Weld became senior minister and stayed in that post for the next 12 years – through the tumultuous 60’s. A magnificent Moller organ and an exemplary music ministry, under the leadership of Mildred Roberts Burch, continued to inspire many.
Dr. Robert A. Byler began his fourteen year ministry in June 1971. During those years, the music ministry remained a top priority with the appointment of Patricia Palmer, who served 24 years. Several outstanding youth musicals were produced under her direction.
Following the ministerial leadership of Mr. Robert Kimes, from 1985 to 1989, Dr. Russell M. Clark was senior minister from 1989 to 1995. He introduced several new programs, including the Emmaus walks, Interfaith Hospitality Network and adult Bible Studies.
Under the current senior minister, Dr. Thomas E. Sagendorf, new opportunities for worship have developed along with the Logos program, a children’s after-school group meeting and dinner on Wednesdays. Paul E. Jackson, Director of Music and Michael Tomesek, organist since 1982, have continued to direct and invigorate the emphasis the church has put on its music program.
Adapted from article By Edward L. Hamblin
Bexley Historical Society President, 1997-2002
Originally published in Historical Herald, November 1999
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The archives through the church historian of the Bexley United Methodist church. Interview with William E. Manly, May, 1996