Photo by Julia Hart
David Riddle of Richland, left, whose wife Wendy (Hughes) Riddle’s family were longtime UMC members, reminisces with Theron Lochner of Chehalis, following the final Sunday service at Sunnyside United Methodist Church.
As of Wednesday, January 9, 2019
SUNNYSIDE There has always been a Methodist Church congregation in Sunnyside, even when the community of church-goers were too small for their own church and shared a pastor.
Later as the town grew, the different denominations were able to pay their own pastors and build their own churches, many of which like the United Methodist Church have lasted more than 100 years.
The Sunnyside United Methodist parishioners had their last formal service in their Ninth Street and East Edison Avenue building Sunday, Jan. 6.
The message by Pastor Scott Klepach could not dispel the sense of sadness that prevailed during the two-hour service.
The presentation of two $1,000 scholarships to Janessa Frank and Alexandra Partch, raised a much-needed burst of applause. The girls, who served as candle lighters, have attended the church since they were tiny, Pastor Klepach said.
Rev. Ben Moore, whose parents Ben and Alice Louise Moore were among the early parishioners, helped with Sunday’s communion.
Marvin Williams, whose relative was an early Methodist minister, wrote a song in commemoration of the final service, entitled “Way, Truth and Life.”
Everywhere one turned, stories of individual’s relationships with the church could be heard.
“Our family were always Methodists all the way back to John Wesley (the founder of the Methodist creed),” said Teresa Kollmar, who attended the Sunday completion of mission ceremonies.
“My grandparents, Olen and Ardis Emery, helped build this building,” she said Sunday.
The Emery family, like many other long-time members of the church, find themselves church shopping.
Kollmar said her immediate family joined the Anchor Point Church in Grandview and her sisters joined the local Presbyterian Church.
Barbara and Dale Miller, also longtime members of the church, served as greeters Sunday, recording the names of the more than 120 people who attended the final service.
“It’s really sad and we’re all wondering what will become of this wonderful building,” Mrs. Miller said.
“For the time being the church, which is home to the Sunnyside United Methodist Preschool and the Nuestra Casa, as well as a Hispanic Church, will remain as renters,” said Mary Huycke of the Seven Rivers District Superintendent.
“We have been talking with community leaders about possible uses of the building,” Huycke said, adding another meeting is set for further discussion.
“We have had a lot of people calling, asking if the preschool will continue,” said director Mary Schlenker.
“We’re still here,” she said, as is Nuestra Casa.
But the chapel is closed as former parishioner Cheryl Pira wrote:
“Bars on the windows,
Candles put out and cold,
No templars sword,
To defend these holy walls.
Our young were never brought here.
Now the edicts on the door.
No one prays here anymore.”