Sunday, January 19, 2003

Price Hill church to change hands

By Karen Vance
Enquirer contributor

Bob Jung has attended Price Hill United Church of Christ since 1923. He married his wife, Myrtle, there in 1942.

Today, the 86-year-old and the rest of the members of the 117-year-old church will give the keys to the church, at 931 McPherson Road, to a new, younger congregation.

"It's kind of sad to see it close," Mr. Jung said. "We just ran out of money. The people with the money died off. I just hope this new church can make a go of it."

Mr. Jung remembers a when the church had two services, with 200 people at one and 250 at the other. Now, the church averages about 30 to 35 people per Sunday. That small group is unable to keep up with repair bills and utilities.

The new church, Christ's Community in Price Hill, has been meeting in the old congregation's auditorium/gymnasium since being commissioned Sept. 15, the same day the Church of Christ voted to disband.

The congregation, led by worship leader Ken Read, began as a "planter" group from the nondenominational, post-contemporary Community Christian Church of Northern Kentucky in Florence.

"We knew we wanted to look for a place to meet, just to rent, in Price Hill, and we sent a few teams out to find a place," said Mr. Read, who is also an instructor at Cincinnati Bible College.

"One team came back and just said, `This is where we want to be.' It's wonderful that it worked out that we won't just be renting it. We'll be in the very building that we felt God was saying we should use."

The congregation of the United Church of Christ will hand over the keys to Christ's Community without any money changing hands today during two services. Both congregations will join for the regular 10:45 a.m. service, and former United Church of Christ pastors Stewart and Gail Wells will lead a special service at 3 p.m.

Mr. Read said the new congregation, of about 60 members, will present the old group with posters commemorating the transition.

"We really want them to feel that this is not the death of something, but a continuation with a different style and a continuing purpose," he said.

The church will continue to house several ministries, including the Manna Outreach Food Pantry, an Alcoholics Anonymous group and a volunteer sewing group, said Dottie Garrett, one of the members of the United Church of Christ.

"They want to be a mission church, too, and help the community," she said. "That was really important to us. This community really needs it."

Both the Jungs and Ms. Garrett said they'll attend a few services of the new church and decide whether to stay, but that the congregation has no set place to go.

"The members are just like a family. It's such a small church that everyone knows everyone else," Ms. Garrett said. "That's going to be the hardest part. Because there is nothing but good memories."

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