Opportunity Presbyterian Church has been preparing for a party on the first weekend in March for a year. After all, it’s not every day you turn 100 years old.
Next weekend the church will host tours, a dinner and concert on Saturday. Sunday worship will feature former pastors and be followed by a reception.
Beyond planning a celebration, the church has been looking back.
For the past 10 months the church newsletter has included a story chronicling a decade from church history. On the second Sunday of each month church member Bill Goetter would read the names of all church members who joined the church during the highlighted decade.
“It’s been a wonderful way to move through it,” said the Rev. David Hodgson, interim pastor. “Last time, when (Goetter) got to the last year, he got a standing ovation. It was a wonderful way to take the journey.”
The church formed as the Neighborhood Presbyterian Church of Opportunity with 64 members. The congregation gathered every Sunday at the Opportunity Township Hall and then met at the Opportunity Grade School before building its first church at the current location – 202 N. Pines Road – in 1919.
New churches were built in 1958 and 2004, but pieces of the older churches remain. The stained glass windows in the chapel are from the original church, as is the bell in the church’s steeple. Some of the roofing beams came from the 1958 A-frame building.
There were thoughts over the years about moving, Hodgson said, but the congregation decided not to follow other churches that left the area. “They decided to stay here and be a light and a source of inspiration to the neighborhood,” he said.
Goetter and his wife, Pat Goetter, have nothing but praise for the church where they have been longtime members. Pat Goetter said she first came to the church in 1937 when she was about 4 years old. “I came with the neighbor girl because her mother made me,” she said. “I’m glad she did.”
Bill Goetter arrived in 1970 as the choir director. Pat was in the choir, and they hit it off. The church’s emphasis on service to the community is part of what has kept them coming back all these years, they said. The church ministers to the homeless, hosts Upward Basketball games and is a meal site for Meals on Wheels on weekdays.
The sign outside the church says it is celebrating its first 100 years. “We’re going to be here another 100 years,” Hodgson said.