The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

November 24, 2012

Oakland United Methodist 'Celebrating a Century'


JOHNSTOWN — Members of Oakland United Methodist Church, 1504 Bedford St., Johnstown, have been celebrating the church’s 100th anniversary throughout the year.

“Celebrating a Century” included an old-fashioned outdoor tent meeting, complete with a circuit riding Methodist minister on horseback.                                               

Centennial committee members are Pastor Randy Bain, Ethel Jane Naylor, Myrna Gilbert, Celeste Sprankle, Larry Hoover, Janet Griffith and Barbara Mangus.

Oakland United Methodist Church was established in Stonycreek Township in what was known as the Griffith Settlement, and dedicated Aug. 23, 1912.

Four brothers, Reuben, Isaac, Lowman and William Griffith, were among the original members of the church.

The original congregation was made up of 17 members from Franklin Street Methodist Episcopal Church, two from the Moxham Charge, one from Walnut Grove United Brethren Church and 16 from an evangelistic campaign held at Point Stadium by the Rev. Billy Sunday.

The original church, a small white building, cost about $1,100.

Many of the furnishings were provided by the Franklin Street church.

For many years, the pastorate was shared by other city churches.

The first full-time pastor, the Rev. Benton R. McKee, was appointed in 1952 on a trial basis.

The United Methodist bishop said if the 99-member church showed no evidence of growth, it would be closed.

At the end of McKee’s nine-year tenure, the congregation had grown to 678.

In 1954, it was apparent a new building was needed for the rapidly growing congregation.

On April 15, ground was broken for the new church with $700 in cash on hand.

With the exception of the brick casing, the present structure was built entirely by volunteer labor at a cost of $60,000.

The new church was consecrated Nov. 24, 1957.

Additional improvements through the years include an 8,400-square-foot educational wing, which was dedicated in 1972, and a narthex and entrance, which were added to the front of the building in 1986, with a balcony added to the sanctuary.

A longtime ministry of Oakland has been “Sharing With You,” a Christian talk show hosted by the church’s pastor and airing at 7:30 p.m. Sundays  on Atlantic Broadband Channel 9 in Johnstown and Altoona.

The program, which is produced by church members, began in December 1984 with the Rev. Harold Greenway as the first host.

It is now hosted by Bain, the church’s current pastor.

For 28 years, Oakland has consistently presented many guests who exemplify the theme of sharing experiences in love and faith.

In 2003, when a fire leveled Grand Slam Ministries to the Community, it was a major setback in the church’s plans to reach out to youth and families in the community.

The building, which was located behind the church, was originally Skateland roller rink.

The property was bought by the church and renovated by church members and other volunteers.

Plans are being made for a major building project at Oakland.

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