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Huntington church celebrates 150 years in the Jewel City

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HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) — It isn’t every day an institution celebrates a century and a half of community presence.

In downtown Huntington, one church, the Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church, has reached that milestone.

The initial congregation has far older roots.

“We are celebrating the 150th anniversary of our mission and ministry in downtown Huntington, and we’re very excited about that.” 

Reverend Teresa Deane, pastor at Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church

“Actually the origins of this church go back further than 150 years because there was missionary movement in the United Methodist, well what was then the Methodist Church, in the late 18th century. And so the earliest part of the congregation was already worshiping before 1870.” 

Reverend Teresa Deane, pastor at Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church

That’s long before Huntington became a city in 1871.

This unique edifice has had a harried history over its lifetime on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Tenth Street.

“Huntington has of course had floods, and we’ve lived through that and we’ve also had fires. There was a serious fire in 1935 that basically destroyed the building.” 

Reverend Teresa Deane, pastor at Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church

Not to mention, the church has stood through two world pandemics: the Spanish Flu in 1918 and now the Coronavirus.

People who work in the church tell us this anniversary is not just a celebration of the building; it’s also of the bond of those who walk its halls.

“Church is the people, and when we’re not in the building because of COVID, the people still exist and the people still love one another.” 

Bruce Rous, director of music and organist at Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church
Bruce Rous plays a hymn on the organ at Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church.

The Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church had a celebration planned for the anniversary, but it got derailed due to the pandemic. Despite that, Reverend Deane tells us they still have something up their sleeves to commemorate the occasion.

“It will feature our bishop who will be preaching for us and some congratulatory messages from former pastors and others within the life of the church.” 

Reverend Teresa Deane, pastor at Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church

Celebrating 150 years of community, and looking towards many more to come.

For more information on the church or it’s revamped anniversary celebration, check out their website, their Facebook, or their Youtube page for more information.

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