History of Lima SDA Church

Our History - A Dedication to Pillars of the Lima SDA Church

Contributing Author: Dr. Patricia Freeman

The Adventist message was first preached in Elgin, Ohio, Allen County in 1886. In 1890, a layman from Lakeview came to Lima to help the believers from Elgin create plans for  Evangelistic meetings which would be held on East Elm Street & Central Avenue.  The Evangelistic meetings were successful. The new members started  holding weekly meetings in a room over the Lima Fire Station on East Kibby Street. J. E. White, son of Ellen G. White, visited one of the Sabbath School services where the new members were meeting in the one room above the Lima Fire Station on East Kibby Street. From all indications, the first Lima Seventh-day Adventist Church was established in 1900. In the oldest record book of the church are two names which may be familiar to some. They are Minnie Long and Nora Watt.

Image: Nora Watt

On September 1915, the conference recommended that the church disband because false doctrines were creeping into the church. There was great division among the believers. Following this action, Minnie Long and Nora Watt held Sabbath and prayer meeting services in Minnie Long’s home for about five years. Minnie’s husband, Grant Long started attending the meetings and was baptized in 1919. He became a strong pillar in the church which was reorganized in the Long’s home. In 1920 the little group of believers purchased the small church on the corner of East Eureka and Scott Streets. It had a seating capacity of 30-50.

In 1936-1937 an evangelistic meeting was held in Memorial Hall leading to an increase of the church membership. On October 1937, the little church was sold for $2,300. The money from the sale was used to purchase the Lutheran Church on the corner of West Spring and South Pierce Streets for the sum of $4,800. This church had a seating capacity of 300 or more. The first service in this church was held on  December 11, 1937. The church dedication was February 5, 1938. During the dedication service, recognition was given to Elder Van Horn and others who were pioneers for the Adventist movement in Lima 52 years prior. 

Image: Old Church Building on West Spring and South Pierce Streets

Pastor Edward Schneider came to Lima in June 1943 and in October 1943  he and Dr. J.M. Hoffman conducted  evangelistic meetings at Memorial Hall. The membership grew to 151. Pastor Schneider continued pastoring in Lima until June 1947. This was a time of great prosperity for the Lima SDA Church. 

Pastor Richard Farley became the pastor of the Lima SDA Church in 1948.  During the five years of his ministry in Lima, the Dorcas Society became an active welfare center. As a result, the Lima SDA Church became known as a church that benefitted those in need.

Pastor Heifner and his family came from Kentucky to the Lima church in October 1952. During the five years he was in the Lima district, he saw the need for a more adequate school than the one room school housed in the church on Spring and Pierce Streets. 

Image: Esther Oldham, School Teacher at the SDA Church on Pierce & Spring Street
Image: Students at the Lima SDA Church School on Pierce & Spring Street

He and elected officers of the church sought out an appropriate building site for a new school. Three lots were selected on the corner of Spencerville Road and Nixon Avenue. Construction of the new school started at this location and the doors were opened September 1955, though the building was incomplete. Teachers at this location were: Ruth Dodds, Mrs. Heifner, Sandra Van Eman, and Lester Faurot.

Image: New school located on the corner of Nixon Avenue and Spencerville Road

Pastor Leonard Ableson became the pastor of the Lima SDA Church in 1957. He was given two big challenges:  complete the new school building and  make plans for selling the church on Spring and Pierce which by this time was deteriorating. His sudden illness and death March 1958 shocked the members. On Friday, March 14, 1958 he was laid to rest in Hartford Cemetery. Mrs. Ableson encouraged the church to continue with plans for completing the new school. She moved to Richmond, Virginia in August 1958.

With the arrival of Pastor Richard Faber in September 1958, the unfinished work moved forward. On October 19, 1958, the church on the corner of Spring and Pierce was sold. November 1, 1958 was the last Sabbath in the old church. Services moved to the east room of the school on November 8, 1958 while construction of the new school and a church building at the same location continued. Later that year, an evangelistic meeting was held at Memorial Hall. Several baptisms resulted. Thus 1958 goes down as one of the most eventful years in the history of the Lima church. 

Pastor Faber and his family accepted a call to Massachusetts in March 1960 giving way for Pastor Daniel O’Fill to begin his leadership of the congregation in June later that year. Under his leadership the congregation moved from having service in the school to the completed building on the property. 

Image: New and Present Church Building at 1976 Spencerville Road in Lima

The first service in the new building was held on September 13, 1963. Nora Watt was the only living charter member of this new church. She was 90 at the time and was still a living member when the church building was dedicated in 1968, five years later. 

At the dedication ceremony, the new church was named the Long Memorial Seventh-day Adventist Church, in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Grant Long, members of the church for many years.  All costs for the building project had been paid. The mortgage was burned at the dedication service. Present at the dedication was Karl Frey, a Lima florist whose generous donations contributed greatly to the finishing of the Lima Church. Also, in attendance were Mr. and Mrs. Gale Oldham. Mrs. Oldham gave a presentation on the history of the church at the dedication.  She served as the church clerk for sixteen years.

Image: Mr. and Mrs. Oldham
Pastors of the Lima SDA Church 1948 - 2020. From left to right (first row) Pastors Richard Farley, Leonard Ableson, Daniel O'Fill, Jerry Johnson, Harry Kohles, (second row) Darrow Foster, John Mutchler, Willis Adams, Richard Remmers (third row) David Grams, Timothy Manning, Donald Byard, and Julio Morales.
Pillars of the Lima SDA Church. For left to right (first row) Shirley Delong, Lester "Pete" Imler, Ruth Setty, Mr. and Mrs. Blaine Van Eman, Mary Derryberry, Olive and Kenneth Cummins (second row) Mr. and Mrs. Gale Oldham, Nora Watt, Hellen Culp, Mr. and Mrs. C. R. Reese, Emanuel and Cecile Backey, Larry Yoder, Gertrude Yoder, Elder Harvey and Bernita Martin, and Floyd "Bud" Wade. 

The Lima Seventh-day Adventist Church has a long history in Lima, Ohio and the surrounding areas.
May it continue to be a beacon of light until Jesus comes!