History of Sylvania United Church of Christ
From Whiteford to Sylvania
In the 1830s General David White built a saw mill on the north branch of the Ottawa River in a settlement known as White's Ford. This little community became Whiteford, Michigan, part of the disputed area involved in the so-called "Ohio-Michigan War." Here in 1834 White and others founded their church of 20 members, First Presbyterian Church of Whiteford. In 1843 however, the members voted to become a Congregational Church, later named, "The First Congregational Church of Sylvania." They met in Sylvania's first schoolhouse, The Old Stone Academy, built by General White at his own expense. Later he donated land on Summit Street where the Meeting House was erected in 1851. Read the church record of the founding here.
From Summit Street to Erie Street
As Sylvania's population expanded, the church outgrew its Summit Street Meeting House and voted in 1951 to construct a new building. After a three-year site-search, a successful building fund campaign, and a year of construction, the first unit of our present building on Erie Street opened for worship in 1958. Wright Hall served as a multi-purpose room housing worship and fellowship for the congregation of over 500 members including about 300 Sunday school children. In 1964, the present sanctuary was added.
From Congregational to United Church of Christ
Meanwhile, denominational changes were afoot. The Congregational Churches merged with the Christian Churches in 1931. Then, the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed (E&R) Church agreed to merge in 1957 forming the United Church of Christ. After thoughtful consideration and discussion, our local church voted in 1965 to become a part of this body, hence our present name: Sylvania United Church of Christ.
From Building to Ministry
In the 1990's plans were begun to remodel and make additions to the building. Generous support enabled the congregation to conduct a building program costing over $2,000,000. New offices, a chapel/multi-purpose room, and a nursery were among spaces completed. We now have air conditioning in most of the church and the entire building has been brought to code. An elevator was added and the chancel area was ramped to make our facility entirely accessible.
Five years later our steam boilers failed and were replaced by hot water boilers. Another capital campaign was conducted to make the repair, update some windows and provide $10,000 in support for a new church start in old First UCC on Cherry Street in Toledo, now called Nu-Vizion UCC.
The following year the church was awarded a grant from the State of Ohio to pay for half the cost to put photovoltaic cells on our sanctuary roof. To do so the entire roof had to be replaced. This entire project was also successfully funded and the solar panels were installed in July 2005. Information about the production of electricity is available on our web site under Gifts/Stewardship of Creation.
In addition to building and improving our own facility, the congregation has been actively involved in ministry outside its walls. A major area of concentration has been Habitat for Humanity. Our members have been involved in building a home in each of the last 10 years.
From Past to Future
We continue to see our mission as joining with God in sharing Good News in our community and around the world. We invite you to become a part of the past, present and future of Sylvania United Church of Christ.