1871 – 2011
God’s Church in a place called Sulphur Grove
Sulphur Grove United Methodist Church is the oldest church in the City of Huber Heights, Wayne Township, Montgomery County, Ohio. We began as Holden Chapel of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ in 1871. By 1890, we were commonly known as Sulphur Grove Church because we were located in the Village of Sulphur Grove, Ohio. The church parsonage, Dr. Clarence E. Shepherd’s home and office, Surrell’s Grocery (which also housed the Post Office and a telephone exchange) and a bar were situated on the four corners of the intersection of Brandt Pike and Taylorsville Road. A few more homes and businesses, Election School House and the church completed the rural village.
The name ‘Sulphur Grove’ reflects the chemical sulphur in the springs of water in the area and, in the early years, a large grove of trees along Taylorsville Road. Our name has changed twice through denominational mergers. In 1947, the Church of the United Brethren in Christ and the Evangelical Church merged. We became Sulphur Grove Evangelical United Brethren Church. In 1968, the EUB Church and the Methodist Church united. We became Sulphur Grove United Methodist Church.
Our church history begins shortly after the Civil War. A few local men and women began holding religious services at Election School House on Taylorsville Road, located where Titus School sits today. The Reverend Samuel S. Holden, a circuit-riding preacher of the Miami Conference of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, was assigned to this group of believers as part of the Beavertown Circuit in 1869. Contemporary accounts report he baptized a large number of applicants by immersion in the chilly waters of the Mad River on a May Sabbath in 1871. The baptism was witnessed by 1,200 people! Known then as Holden Class, the group continued to meet to pray, sing in unison and to watch over each other’s conduct.
Soon, the faithful began to visit their neighbors in this sparsely settled area, seeking funds with which to build a church. When the contributions were counted, they had $5,000.00 which was more than they thought they needed. So, they built a larger church of brick. The land was donated by farmer Stephen Allen. Joseph McElhany, who lived nearby in a two story log cabin, was the architect and builder. Farmers hauled the limestone for the foundation from a quarry on Taylorsville Road. They dug the clay for the bricks from the ground to the west of the church and fired the bricks across the street on the school grounds. The church was dedicated on Sunday, November 12, 1871. It was named Holden Chapel to honor the founding pastor.
And for 75 years, we were just a little country church by the side of the road!
In 1947, the United States Air Force was born. The cow pasture where Wilbur and Orville Wright played around with their flying machines was the beginning of Wright Patterson Air Force Base. In the 1950’s, Charles Huber began building brick houses in Wayne Township for the new people who came to work at the base. Rev. C. Edwin Pellet, Pastor of Sulphur Grove Church, walked door to door in the plat, welcoming the new families and inviting them to church. They came! And we grew and we grew and we grew!
In 2001, Sulphur Grove Church was invited to become a partner with the YMCA of Greater Dayton to develop a new “Y” facility in Huber Heights at the northwest corner of Brandt Pike and Shull Road. In order to live out the “Y” name, Young Men’s Christian Association, we were given the opportunity to hold worship services at the “Y”. It took months of thinking about how to convert the “Y” gym into worship space that could be set up and torn down every Sunday morning. Services began in October, 2005. The “Y” uses several rooms of the church buildings on Taylorsville Road to operate a week-day Pre-School and Day Care.
God has blessed us so that we might be a blessing to others. God’s people at Sulphur Grove Church invite you develop your personal relationship with God, to worship Him and to serve Him.
History Committee 12/2010