(This is the second in a series of stories about church remodeling and growth in Richland Township)
“When we got here, there was no hot water,” said Tom Beck, pastor of the Larwill Wesleyan Church.
This wasn’t at the turn of the last century, but this one. The year was 2000.
The church membership was seven with an average age of 62, according to Beck, and he said the building had not been maintained properly for about 20 years.
He and his wife, Julie had no children, so were able to dig right in and begin the work of reviving the church building and hopefully the congregation. But it wasn’t long before the children came: first Nicholas, now age 9 and then Alyssa, age 7.
Beck calls himself a bi-vocational pastor, one who works another job, besides pastoring, his being at C & A Tool in Churubusco. His wife teaches at Cornerstone Christian School in Albion, where their children attend.
An addition to the church in the 1950s, the house next door, donated by the Holycross family, according to Beck, allowed additional area for Sunday School classrooms.
The house and church were joined in the 1950s according to Beck, by a small walkway with bathrooms added there. They do have hot water now.
Over his tenure, the church is slowly being remodeled, the latest work on the building being the construction of a ramp and new stairway to allow the older members easier access to the sanctuary.
The membership is also growing, with around 45 to 50 attending the Sunday morning services.
The youth group recently traveled to Cincinnati to visit the Creation Museum there, with 14 attending.
Beck says the Wesleyan Church denomination dissolved from Methodist Church in 1968 and then joined with the Pilgrim Holiness denomination because of similar doctrines and to save money by pooling resources.
The Larwill Wesleyan Church helps support missionaries in New Guinea, Zambia, Haiti and Bolivia, and the youth group sponsors a child with World Vision. The church meets Sunday mornings at 9:30 a.m. for Sunday School and 10:30 a.m. for the mixed traditional/contemporary worship service.
The Wesleyan Church national headquarters are located in Indianapolis and Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion is affiliated with the Wesleyan denomination.
“Wesleyans are convinced that the Bible is God’s written Word and the final authority for all Christian beliefs and practices,” — taken from their present day statement of faith, not very different from their original charter statement.