The History of the Bolivar United Methodist Church
Our history of Methodism in this part of the state dates from the time that an itinerant preacher by the name of George Callahan preached at a log blockhouse in Jefferson County, Ohio in the later part of the 18th century.
Our first exposure to the Methodist faith in our community occurred in 1820 when the Reverend Andrew Stewart preached at the home of Peter Hartline, Lawrenceville, and organized the Methodist Society. Regular preaching was held in homes and the schoolhouse until 1842 when a log church was built on lot # 39. This property was located on Gravel Hill just west of the C. C. Barth property.
During 1854 a church building was erected on the site of the present building. This sanctuary served the congregation until 1887 when it was moved to the back of the lot and the present structure was built. The 1854 building stood until 1927.
In 1857 after the 1854 church had been built, the log cabin and lot # 39 were sold to the congregation which is now the United Church of Christ.
The North Ohio Conference minutes of 1887 recorded the following: “we have a new church in progress at Greenville, Rev. C. A. Ruff, pastor, and also at Bolivar, Rev. C. M. Gay, pastor.”
Early Bolivar Methodists began as part of the Ohio Conference in 1820, which included Ohio, Michigan, and parts of Pennsylvania and Indiana. Over the years as the Midwest grew more populated, the conference relationships changed along with the designations. In 1840 as part of the North Ohio Conference, Bolivar was on the Wooster District which included all of Wayne County, and parts of Medina, Holmes, Stark, Summit and Tuscarawas counties.
After the 1968 merger of the Evangelical United Brethren and Methodist churches, we were now the United Methodist Church. At that time the East Ohio Conference was formed. This conference covers an area from Port Clinton on the western side to Delaware (north of Columbus), then eastward to the Ohio border. Our Bolivar congregation became part of the new Cambridge District but later was transferred to the Canton District. We are now part of the Tuscarawas District which is comprised of 74 churches.
From 1820 we have had over 70 individuals who have pastored our congregation. Our current minister is Pastor William Eckert who started in July of 2014.
The existing sanctuary, dating from 1887, has seen a number of improvements over the years, including siding, insulation and an interior reversal with renovations, all of which occurred in the 1980s. During 1990-1991, the current addition consisting of classrooms and the Fellowship Hall was built.