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Ironton church will celebrate 100 years

Pastor Rob Hale with the First Church of the Nazarene will celebrate its 100 year anniversary this Sunday.

Pastor Rob Hale with the First Church of the Nazarene will celebrate its 100 year anniversary this Sunday.

The Church of the Nazarene denomination traces its anniversary date to 1908. Just six years later on Nov. 4, 1914, a charter was granted and the “Little White Chapel” became Ironton’s First Church of the Nazarene.

Rob Hale, pastor of the First Church of the Nazarene for the past six years, said most churches as old as his are no longer in existence.

“I’ve seen stories in the newspapers where churches are celebrating 200 years, one in Ashland is celebrating 103 years and all usually talk about their history,” Hale said. “But America is in a post-Christian era. People all across America are just not going to church anymore. I want to focus on now and the future.”

According to its history, the Nazarene denomination was a “marriage that, like every marriage, linked existing families and created a new one.” Utilizing evangelism, compassionate ministries, and education, their church went forth to become a people of many cultures and tongues.

“We are a generational church with a lot of elderly and a lot of married couples,” Hale said. “Most churches are full of old and young people. We hardly ever see teenagers in church anymore.”

The lack of new churchgoers, Hale said, has caused him to use the celebration of the church’s 100-year-old past to focus on the future.

“It’s important to let people know where we came from, but more importantly we let people know where we are going,” Hale said. “Everybody talks about ministering to youth, but if you go to church, you don’t see any there.”

In general, Hale said, churches are specializing more in groups.

“Cowboy Church is getting huge across the country,” Hale said. “Church takes place in barns or in a field and people wear clothes that cowboys wear. My goal is to have Cowboy Church in the very near future.”

Hale said he is thankful the church survived the growth cycles and is not only still meeting, but thriving.

“We have a healthy and inclusive family of believers reaching out and looking for ways to connect with our community,” he said. “We have always been a church looking beyond our four walls.”

The Sunday morning celebration of its 100th anniversary is 10:30 a.m. this Sunday. The Rev. Mark Lail, the Rev. Carl and Alice Erwin, the Rev. Curtis and Barbra Sellers and the Rev. Trevor Johnston, South Central Ohio District Superintendent, and his wife, Mary, will be in attendance, along with the Rev. Bret and Beth Layton and daughters Madison and Morgan, who are ministering in special music.