Hilliard History Lives: Colwell church's movers trusted in providence
For 88 years, the Colwell Methodist Church stood as a pillar of hope and faith for rural families in and around the community of Mudsock at the intersection of Roberts and Alton Darby Creek roads on the boundary of Brown and Norwich townships.
The strong Christian belief of the families of rural Mudsock involved a need for a house of worship.
Money was raised, land was donated and a contest was announced for naming rights for the new church. Whoever donated the largest sum of money would be given the opportunity to name the structure. The Colwell family donated $25, not a small amount in those days, and the family chose to name the building the Colwell Methodist Church.
Construction was completed in 1876, and the church was dedicated the same year.
Colwell became part of a three-church circuit served by one minister. The church operated for 88 years before the membership and finances became so small the church was unable to continue in operation. The church was closed in 1964 and sat vacant for 19 years.
The church building and land at Roberts and Alton Darby Creek roads was adjacent to the Anderson family farm. The Andersons, who were members of the local historical society, wanted to preserve the structure by moving it to the new Historical Village being constructed in Weaver Park in Hilliard.
After a couple years of due diligence with the courts and trying to find the family descendants who rightfully had title to the church and property, ownership was given to the West Ohio Conference of the Methodist Church, which then deeded the property to the Anderson family.
The ball started rolling on the process of moving the church to its new location in Weaver Park, where it eventually arrived in 1983.
This is where prayer, miracles and divine intervention came into play.
After much prayer by the organizers, fundraising began and planning was well underway. Contractors to remove the roof and a moving company to jack up the church from its foundation and transport it to the village were hired, and the city of Hilliard agreed to construct the new foundation for the church in Weaver Park.
But then a major obstacle appeared. The local electric company had just completed new poles and electric lines along the path the church had to travel to its new home. The company wanted to charge $100,000 to move the new electric lines so the church building could be transported.
This was a deal-breaker, and those involved in the endeavor were heartbroken. But one of them had to go to New York City on a business trip and decided to visit the corporate headquarters of the electric company. And miracle of miracles, he convinced the company's leaders to cancel the $100,000 cost.
There must have been some divine intervention answering all the prayers and removing all obstacles because the fundraising, moving and reconstruction all took place, and dreams became reality.
Thousands of people lined the streets to watch the amazing event when the church building was moved.
Newspaper articles followed. One story explained that although the church building sat idle in Mudsock for years, someone decided to steal the bell from the tower, and the story said it was said a major part of the church was missing.
But one more miracle was in store. One night, after the story about the missing bell was published, the bell mysteriously appeared chained to the big oak tree in front of the church's new home.
We can only imagine the joy of all those involved in the project. Prayers were answered, miracles occurred and the blessing of divine intervention made this great story come to life.
Today, the church chapel is the cornerstone of the Historical Village in Weaver Park. It is used for nondenominational weddings and school tours, and it is open to the public when the village is open.
Tim Woodruff is president of the Hilliard Ohio Historical Society. The historical society's Hilliard History Lives guest column is a periodic feature in the ThisWeek Hilliard Northwest News.