The mission of Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church is to share the love of Jesus to transform lives, Cincinnati and the world.
History of Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church
The Mt. Lookout Methodist Episcopal Church (Mt. Lookout M.E.) was organized in 1879 by a group of 15 Methodists who had been meeting in neighborhood homes in Mt. Lookout, an eastern suburb of Cincinnati. In 1880, a wooden building on the corner of Observatory Road at Grace Avenue was constructed on land donated by John Kilgour “to be used for religious purposes, only.” It measured a total of 28 by 60 feet, and featured a 72-foot tall tower.
On Saturday evening, January 5, 1924, the Hyde Park M.E. church building was engulfed by a ten-alarm fire and the inside was completely destroyed. Now, the two recently merged congregations which were growing and bursting at the seams had no place to meet. So it was back to meeting in the rented Masonic Hall, across Erie Avenue from the burned building.
Rev. Earl Hoon came to Hyde Park M.E. in November, 1924. He was dynamic, courageous and inspiring. He envisioned that this new building would be among the best Methodist church buildings in the world. It would be patterned after the 13th Century cathedral in Manchester, England. The architects believed that for a building with those requirements $500,000 would need to be raised. With over $200,000 in pledges, ground was broken on March 1 and the cornerstone laid on September 13, 1925.
The building was dedicated on September 25, 1927 in a series of events covering 15 days including three Sundays. Newspapers proclaimed the event in banner headlines and the Mt.Lookout/Hyde Park community participated in the celebration. In a front-page newspaper article, Anson Fry, a church trustee, stressed that the church owed much to the community. He noted that three outside groups, one Jewish, one Catholic and one without a religious connection, had pledged more than $100,000 toward the structure. Mr. Fry said that the church would not wait for denominational lines to fall, but would open its doors seven days a week to all who wish to use the facilities and that programs would be provided for adults and youth.
Addition to Gothic Building
Under the leadership of Dr. Emerson S. Colaw, an educational wing was dedicated May 15, 1966, nearly doubling the space, adding needed classrooms, offices and a chapel. Nearly all of the $1.25 million cost was paid before the building was finished. With the conversational preaching of Dr. Colaw, the church expanded its outreach. A radio broadcast was begun in 1964 and programs were developed for the elderly, singles and divorced/separated which quickly filled the new addition. After attending a seminar in California which emphasized that to sustain growth, churches should identify needs and create programs to meet those needs he met with the Council of Ministries. A five-year plan was created. Goals were set and progress was to be measured. Membership at the church had grown to more than 3,100 when Dr. Colaw was consecrated Bishop in the United Methodist Church on August 31, 1980. It was the first such service ever to be held in the sanctuary of the Gothic building.
Dr. Dale E. Bichsel arrived in November, 1980. Following two highly regarded pastors such as Lynn Radcliffe and Emerson Colaw was not easy, but he was up to the task. Programs were maintained and strengthened. Above all, he maintained a high level of worship, a diverse educational program, extensive social outreach and most importantly, a loving fellowship.