VERSAILLES, Ohio (WDTN) – A historic Darke County church that closed over 100 years ago is reopening them this weekend.
A homecoming service and an open house celebration will take place at Saint-Pierre Lutheran Church in Versailles on Sunday, September 19 at 2:30 p.m.
The church is considered the oldest log cabin church in Darke County.
“There’s no electricity, no water, something like that,” describes Dick Shumaker, whose ancestors helped build the church.
His ancestors came from Germany and settled in Darke County. They built the church in 1850.
“Doesn’t have a good base. Just sit on the logs of the rocks. We can see over the years that that has changed a bit, ”says Dick.
The foundation was the faith of the people who maintained it.
“I tell people that God is taking care of the place. I just have the key to the door, ”smiles Dick, who holds the literal key to a piece of the past.
Dick goes on to say, “My great-great-great-grandfather was the glockenspiel, the bell player. I guess he would open the church, and then when everything was ready he would ring the bell and they would come in for the service.
For some reason, regular services ceased in 1905 and the church closed; but since then, he welcomes people again once a year for a homecoming party.
When the doors open, it’s a step back in time.
Not much has changed inside since the church closed. The church has retained all of its original features, including the pump organ.
“I still have the guarantee. I got out of Cleveland, ”says Dick. “Most of that furniture out there is hand made, handsaw and everything, the German Bible and the Sunday school books are still there from – like I said, the book from. my great-great-grandmother’s Sunday school is where she had her Sunday school class.
For upkeep and upkeep, the church depends on money taken during the annual service.
“A little bit of a lot of people is so helpful,” says Dick’s niece, Sarah Royer. “Every little bit counts.”
The church has continued annual service every year since 1905, except for two years.
“Except for two years,” says Dick. “During the war and last year because of COVID.”
Last year the church missed out on this much needed money collected during the annual service.
“It breaks my heart. It’s a concern, ”Sarah admits.
When people come back for Homecoming, some come to exchange stories, others come to see the historic monument.
“I see it especially every time I see Uncle Dick so moved about it because he always knew it. It has always been in her family, ”cries Sarah, describing the emotional bond her family has with the church.
The church is a treasure for them, and they continue to preserve the past and carry the history of the church into the future.
“It’s just so close to me… and hopefully my family,” Dick said.
The church is located at 9239 St. Peters Rd. In Versailles.
After the Sunday service there will be punch and cookies.