Union Church Celebrates 150 years!

By Joyce Ervin Pastor Robert Miller of Marble Memorial United Methodist Church portrays John Wesley addressing guests at the 150-year recognition on Sunday, March 20 at the Free Methodist Church.

Martha Churchill greeting Aid in Milan Board President, Dennis O’Hare.

By Joyce Ervin Pastor Robert Miller of Marble Memorial United Methodist Church  portrays John Wesley addressing guests at the 150-year recognition on Sunday, March 20 at the Free Methodist Church.

By Joyce Ervin
Pastor Robert Miller of Marble Memorial United Methodist Church portrays John Wesley addressing guests at the 150-year recognition on Sunday, March 20 at the Free Methodist Church.

By Jocye Ervin

In March of 1886, Milan Christians built Union Church on W. Main Street, where five different denominations could hold worship services. A birthday party 150 years later on Sunday, March 20 was held at the Milan Free Methodist Church.
Hosted by Milan historian Martha Churchill, Sallie Bancroft and Linda Gilson, local pastors from the original congregations addressed the audience giving a short history of their churches and talked about what programs and improvements they have made over the years.
Those speaking included Deacon Jack Flanagan of Immaculate Conception Parish, the Reverend Kelly Boubel Shriver of People’s Presbyterian Church, Pastor Doug Strader of the Milan Baptist Church and Pastor Dale Kaufman of Milan Free Methodist Church.  But, Pastor Robert Miller of Marble Memorial United Methodist Church caused quite a stir, as he approached the podium dressed in costume as John Wesley complete with powdered wig.
Others speakers were York Township Supervisor John Stanowski.  The township purchased the building after the congregations dissipated and built their own buildings.  Stanowski spoke favorably of the worshippers uniting saying, “God is the center of the universe.”
Being a politician, he said, that segue gave him an opportunity to invite anyone interested to obtain literature for the Saline River Preserve project, promoted by a consortium of communities of Milan, Saline and York Township.
Also speaking was Leroy Zieske of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who purchased the building from York Township and still have the right to hold services there, though the building is now used by Aid in Milan.
Board president for Aid in Milan, Dennis O’Hare, said the use of the building by the local charitable institution and the churches and community organizations support with school supplies, coats, Christmas and Easter gifts are really needed as funds from the United Way have been reduced.
Robert Iverson of Milan said the program was very educational and he, “Enjoyed it immensely.”  Dr. Burton Hodges said he enjoyed the program and found it very interesting, though he knew some of the history.
Milan Mayor Michael Armitage said Martha, Sallie and Linda did a great job putting the program together.  He said, “The project showed the character of Milan to work together to get the job done. “We continue to work together today to make Milan a better place.”
Churchill profusely thanked the Milan Free Methodist Church staff for providing the venue and helping to make a successful event.
Bancroft and Gilson served cake, ice cream and beverages to the attendees.  Churchill said she hoped to add the photographs taken at the event to her ongoing written history of Union Church and present it to the genealogy department at the Milan Public Library.

Joyce Ervin is a freelance writer reporting on Milan.  She can be contacted at:  jlervin42 [at] yahoo [dot] com.

Martha Churchill greeting Aid in Milan Board President, Dennis O’Hare.

Martha Churchill greeting Aid in Milan Board President, Dennis O’Hare.

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