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Sulphur Grove United Methodist Church Celebrates 150 year past, and new beginnings

New Campus.jpeg Sulphur Grove's 'New Campus' on Brandt Pike features a praise band with a "laid-back, casual atmosphere, and a contemporary worship experience."
Jerry Kenney
Sulphur Grove's 'New Campus' on Brandt Pike features a praise band with a "laid-back, casual atmosphere, and a contemporary worship experience."

Sulphur Grove United Methodist Church is celebrating its 150th birthday this year.

It’s located in what is now suburban Huber Heights but when it was founded in 1871, the landscape and lifestyle of the people living there were very different.

Over the years the church has gone through lots of organizational and denominational changes but it has persisted.

On a Sunday morning, a praise band led by Pastor Norman Moxley greeted several dozen worshippers as a contemporary /modern service got underway inside the Brant United Methodist Church off U.S. 40.

Not far away, on Taylorsville Road in Huber Heights, Rev. Barry Baughman has a more traditional, liturgical service underway. Around a hundred congregants and choir members listen to his message.

Both churches now make up the Sulphur Grove congregation. They merged in November of 2021.

IMG_7632.jpeg Sulpher Grove United Methodist Churh
Jerry Kenney
Sulphur Grove's Taylorsville campus offers a more "traditional, liturgical service with piano, organ, choir, as well as responsive readings and unison prayers, a more traditional worship experience."

Church Historian Joan Borton said the organization has also undergone two denominational changes in its long history.

“In 1947, we became Sulfur Grove Church of the Evangelical United Brethren Church, and then in 1968 we became Sulfur Grove United Methodist Church," Borton said.

Sulphur Grove’s founding by local farmers, merchants and their families dates back to the late 1860s and was a direct result of America’s Civil War.

“People had been through a very terrible period of time in their lives," Borton said. "Everybody had. And so they needed something to hang on to. And although they may have had some religious beliefs earlier, this was the opportunity to pull them together and to start over.”

Borton recalled the church's founding as the Church of the United Brethren in Christ.

“Samuel Holden was assigned to this area as a circuit riding preacher, he initially started with a group of local people who were interested in a church," Borton said. "[He] had a class called Holden Class in the school across the road. It wasn't long before they decided we really would like to build a church of our own so they began to visit their neighbors, friends, relatives in this really sparsely settled rural area of Wayne Township to talk about their dream."

Church founders managed to raise $5000 to start building.

Joan Borton.jpeg. Sulpher Grove Church Historian Joan Borton.
Jerry Kenney
Sulpher Grove Church Historian Joan Borton.

“Then, while the men who were gathering the supplies and making the plans, the group said, we need to be baptized. And so on a chilly spring Sunday morning," Borton said. "Twelve hundred people from Dayton and the surrounding rural area met members of the church over in the Mad River, and there was a baptism by immersion.”

The church was constructed with brick fired locally. A dedication service was held on November 12th, 1871.

The original Holden Chapel still stands as part of the Sulphur Grove Taylorsville campus. And together with the New Campus on Brandt Pike, Borton says today the congregation operates organizationally as one while offering contemporary and traditional services.

People respond to God in different ways and in worship," Borton proclaimed. "We have discovered there's a style of music, and the general atmosphere of the worship service makes a difference to some people."

And in case you were wondering, The Church’s name stems from the abundance of spring water in the area, and a large grove of trees that stood along Taylorsville Road when it was founded.

You can find out more about the church’s history on their website.

Jerry began volunteering at WYSO in 1991 and hosting Sunday night's Alpha Rhythms in 1992. He joined the YSO staff in 2007 as Morning Edition Host, then All Things Considered. He's hosted Sunday morning's WYSO Weekend since 2008 and produced several radio dramas and specials . In 2009 Jerry received the Best Feature award from Public Radio News Directors Inc., and was named the 2023 winner of the Ohio Associated Press Media Editors Best Anchor/News Host award. His current, heart-felt projects include the occasional series Bulletin Board Diaries, which focuses on local, old-school advertisers and small business owners. He has also returned as the co-host Alpha Rhythms.