Goshen Church of the Nazarene celebrates 90 years

Goshen Church of the Nazarene celebrates 90 years
Teri Stein

The Goshen Community Church of the Nazarene will celebrate its 90th anniversary on Nov. 5 with a special service.


The Goshen Community Church of the Nazarene will celebrate its 90th anniversary on Nov. 5 with a performance by the Pine Ridge Boys, who sing southern gospel music. The service will be held from 10 a.m. to noon, and a covered dish dinner will follow.

The public is invited to attend the event. The church is in Goshen, but the street address is 2501 David Road SE, New Philadelphia. The church is currently led by Pastor Lee Randolph Jr. with assistance from Pastor Alvin Conkey and Pastor Karen Rawlins.

The first year the church was formed, members took turns meeting in their homes. Then they began to meet in the building they are currently in now, which was formerly the miner’s hall. It was smaller than it is now, and much change has taken place to the premises over the years.

The step up to the pulpit platform in the front of the church was at one time the location of the back wall of the building.

“It was a fairly small building, and then in the mid-’60s, the vestibule was added to the front, and in the early ‘60s — 1959 or 1960 — the two adult Sunday school rooms were added,” Randolph said. One of the rooms now serves as an office.

A new roof and a basement were added too.

“In the early ‘60s, the ladies in the church, along with one or two guys, they hand dug the basement,” Randolph said.

The church basement today is much the same as it was when it was dug out and blocks laid.

The inside of the building underwent a complete remodel in 1998. The walls and ceilings were covered with drywall, and stained-glass windows were added. The vestibule of the building, which contained three small rooms, was remodeled and opened into one big area.

“One room was the nursery, one was the hallway that took you to the steps to get down to the basement and the center part was where you (entered the church),” Randolph said.

When Randolph became pastor in 1980, the sanctuary had black walnut paneling that made it difficult to see, no matter the lighting. He urged the congregation to paint or remove the paneling, but there was no interest.

Randolph credits a lay pastor’s comment for getting it removed during the 1998 remodel.

“I went on vacation, and I asked Jim (Scott) to fill in for me while we were in the middle of remodeling the sanctuary,” Randolph said. The congregation met in the basement during the renovations.

After the service a church member, the late Fred Torgler, offered to take Scott upstairs to show him their progress. The board had only agreed to a new ceiling, to repair a wall that was leaning and the vestibule remodel.

“So Fred is showing him around, showing him what all we were doing, when Jim says to Fred, ‘Why are you doing this halfway? You have the ugliest church in the whole entire district. And don’t tell me you don’t because I filled in at all of them,’” Randolph said, adding there were 87 churches in the district at the time. “It was the black walnut walls. He said why don’t you paint this thing white and make it look like a church, someplace you can come in here and worship, instead of a cave.”

After that comment was made, the entire congregation voted to put drywall up, and after another church member, the late Lois Mansill, came up with the idea to add stained-glass windows, it was approved too. Other members including the late Floyd “Zeke” Davis and his wife Marjorie always had the good of the church at heart.

Randolph said all the money needed to add the stained-glass windows was raised in one Sunday.

The church later purchased two adjoining properties. A home to the east on Goshen Valley Road and a garage there had been damaged in a flood and were torn down, and a steep bank was filled at a cost of $16,000. At the other property on David Road, the house was removed, but the garage remains.

In 2002 they built a fellowship hall, and in 2006 they built a hallway to connect the hall and the church.

The church’s efforts over the years have improved not only their building, but also the community of Goshen.

“We’ve done $400,000 worth of improvements in the 43 years that I’ve been here,” Randolph said.

The Goshen Community Church of the Nazarene is a small church.

“We are still suffering badly from COVID,” Randolph said. “Our congregation is half what it was before. In fact, if you look at the national statistics, churches today are running 54% of what they were before COVID. So across the whole United States and in the world, church attendance is down, in round numbers, 50% and giving is down worldwide 30% and our giving is down 50%. The only reason we’re not in financial troubles is we’re debt free.”

When Randolph saw churches were going to be shut down in 2020, the Goshen Church was one of the first to go online with their services, and they still have many people who watch from their homes each week.

The pastors that have served at the church since its inception include Isaac Hurless, 1934-37 and 1940-42; Helen Wilson, 1937-39; Vaughn Mooreland, 1943; Lloyd O. Gooding, 1944-46; Lemon D. Smith, 1947-55; John Scott, 1955-58; Robert Lecee, 1958-59; Norman Stover, 1960-66; J.D. Poole, 1966-73; Paul Carpenter, 1973-74; Clarence Sommer, 1974-77; Robert J. Smith, 1977-79; and Leopha “Lee” C. Randolph Jr., 1980 to present.

For more information and to view online services, visit Goshen Community Church of the Nazarene on Facebook.

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