The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio on October 18, 1991 · Page 65
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October 18, 1991

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The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio · Page 65

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Cincinnati, Ohio
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Friday, October 18, 1991
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Page 65
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Friday. October 18. 1991 THE CINCINNATI ENQUIRER EXTRACentral 5 Bond Hill church reaches out Presbyterian congregation offers multiracial environment i un 7i ft.- .... r C ' - v.. . i minister until a replacement is found for the Rev. Ed Hof, who retired in 1990 after ministering at Bond Hill for 33 years. Hof recalled the church's deci The Cincinnati EnquirerFred Straub From left, Dunlap United Methodist Church members Romilda Reiff, her daughter Romilda Bailey, and their pastor, the Rev. Dana Heaton. Churches CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 "When I moved to here I remember the oyster suppers at church," said Alyce Stephenson, 81. "They were big times then, in the 1920s when I was a kid." The decline came gradually until the church closed from 1940 to 1945. Then, former members decided to rekindle interest, 'and ministers from nearby churches agreed to fill the pulpit. But the landlocked Gano church couldn't expand as neighboring churches did after 1945. The Rev. Ronald Trapp of Mason Presbyterian Church now serves the Gano church at weddings and communion ceremonies that Graham cannot perform since she is not ordained and not Presbyterian. Gano has remained an untouched pocket of homes. "This is what we have going for us," Raffel said. This community is the only thing left in this township that a bulldozer hasn't touched." But the church needs an infusion of youth if it is to survive. "There is a small nucleus that I hope can keep it going," Graham-said. "If not, the Presbytery may want to close it." "They asked for that long ago," Raffel said. "They told us to close the doors and go to Sharonville, West Chester, wherever. But this ... is part of our lives and our history." times I hear people in the area talk about 'that white church,' " Focke said. "But the fact is that a lot of our most active members are black." Simpson said drawing black residents is still a problem. "We are a Presbyterian congregation," said Simpson. "Most residents are naturally going to go toward the faith they're more culturally at home with." Over the past two decades, the church has developed numerous community programs, often carried on by neighboring churches like St. Agnes, a Catholic parish. The church relies heavily on offerings and donations. The Presbyterian Synod provides money for Bond Hill's community ministry program. "The church supports itself," Hof said. "During the '70s we lost a lot of members from people dying or moving out of the community. It's difficult to replace them from a community where there's a limited number of people interested in the religion we profess." Whatever adversity lies ahead, Simpson said he is determined that Bond Hill United Presbyterian remain involved in the neighborhood. "We look at the community's needs and go to where the problems are. Holding back is not in the nature of this church." BY PATRICK KERIN Enquirer Contributor The Rev. Ron Simpson walked the aisles of Bond Hill's United Presbyterian Church holding the newly baptized infant in his arms. "David doesn't know what's happening," Simpson said. "But he can feel the love and attention you're giving him." That kind of informality is representative of Bond Hill United Presbyterian, at Paddock Road and California Ave. Bond Hill and Kennedy Heights Presbyterian churches are fully integrated. Despite financial difficulty and low numbers, Bond Hill continues to serve a community scarred by drug abuse and bad publicity. "We're not some traditional little church," said Simpson. "We're a multiracial congregation that's involved with the community. In the mid-60s, the church boasted 400 members. Current membership stands at about 110. Simpson said small congregations make up in fellowship what they lack in dollars. "There's a real family feeling with smaller churches," he said. "Our service isn't totally structured and it doesn't wear you out. People respond to that." Simpson, a toolmaker for General Electric, is serving as interim sion to inte- Ron Simpson grate during the heady period of the civil rights struggles. "There was a difficulty to integration," Hof said. "Our service was different from what a lot of black families were used to. But our session discussed the changes in the neighborhood and decided to minister to the community as it changed." Hof said the church adopted a Baptist practice called Bible Study in the Home. "Five church members would meet one afternoon a week for eight weeks with prospective members. We would meet at someone's home and have Bible study." Hof said Bond Hill Presbyterian now has 40 black membership. . "Bond Hill Presbyterian has always done what the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church charged it to do reach out, meet needs and serve the community." Cynthia Focke, a church elder, said she wished more black residents knew of the church. "Some World War II came the baby boom and there was a baby boom in Dunlap," Bailey said. The church has changed little. Ministers come and go. Dana Heaton the current pastor, was appointed only a year and a half ago. Despite small numbers, members are confident the church will endure. Heaton remembers meeting with Methodist officials shortly after his appointment. "I told them, it's a little slow in attendance, but I find so much heart here I can only see it going up." "I go back in this church for many years," said Paul R. Young, 70, owner of a Mount Healthy funeral home who attended the church as a teen-ager. "It hasn't changed very much. What they have here today mirrors what they've had in the past." grove of trees on a curve of Old Colerain Avenue. Church member Romilda Bailey makes it clear that painting the Dunlap United Methodist Church and new interior carpeting are top priorities. The work will be done when the money's in the bank. "This church has never been one for borrowing," Bailey said. "I can only remember one time in 50 years when we borrowed any money (to buy an adjacent lot). We paid that back immediately . . . ." Sunday attendance ranges from 20 to 30 worshipers a small flock in a small church founded in the early 1800s. The present day church was built in 1917, said Romilda Reiff, 87, Bailey's mother and a church member since 1941. The church's heyday was in the 1950s and '60s "when we had 22 children in Sunday school. After A little white church, a tad gray in its old coat of paint, stands in a SAVINGS YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO MISS FALL VARIETIES FRESH FROM OUR ORCHARD Apple Cider 1 No Preservatives Added ROUSTER'S Apple House i i MARKET HOURS: Tuesday Sunday 1 0-6 CLOSED MONDAY L&Cf 625-5504 Milford US 50 Exit off I-275, Turn left,' Turn right onto .JT SR 131,1 986 SR 131 (6 miles east of Milford) I tzZ. I ON VARIOUS FALL 1pc. &2pc. Dresses... 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