Saying "Goodbye" to the Stow Chapel

Mar 2, 2020

Ash Wednesday marked our church's final service in the Stow Chapel. The Union Church of Stow building was erected in 1904. After many years of faithful ministry, the congregation adopted into Highrock in 2016, and the building became the "Stow Chapel" – and it’s been a place where God has been present and worked through lives for 116 years! At the conclusion of our service, we took some time to reflect on this reality, and heard from several folks who were former members of the Union Church of Stow. 

Ruby Ramsland shared these words:

"This quiet little village of Stow was settled in the mid 1600's and this little church had its beginnings in 1892 with the building of a chapel just east of this present building. The church itself was built and dedicated in 1904. Since then this building was a place of worship and praise for all Protestants in Stow and the surrounding communities. Its roots are deep. When I began coming here in the 1980's it was an active congregation. There was a lot going on.

As I look back upon it now I keep singing to myself "the Spirit of the Lord was there" right in our midst, blessing all that was done in His name. Through the years, that "spirit of the Lord" was there blessing....the.Sunday School, the many ministers that came and went, lots of committees...the choir....the annual church fairs....the rummage sales....the Alpha programs, Easter sunrise services....times of Bible studies ...Women's retreats......Vacation Bible schools....Ann's Dinners...weddings funerals, and baptisms.

Fellowship hall was also used by the community by Warm Hearts of Stow, the Red Cross for their blood mobile, a community Thanksgiving eve service with all three community churches participating and for distributing Angel Food, which was produce etc. for low income families. I have probably forgotten a few things but the Spirit of our Lord was  with us and very present in the atmosphere.

To God be the glory ....Great things He has done!"

Another reflection written by Leann Phoenix was also shared:

"Many of my experiences with God and witnessing his work in this place involved working with our youth and teens. When we had our teens participate in Alpha as their confirmation program it offered so many opportunities to go deep with them – in their faith and their personal lives. The combination of having a meal with them, watching a video and small group discussion made for a natural setting to seek and discover God... This was a safe and open place where they felt welcome to be themselves.

I also saw God at work here through the myriad of worship services that have taken place. We had some Maundy Thursday services that produced very raw and real emotional experiences. I’ll never shake what I heard and felt when a spike was hammered into a heavy wooden crossbeam in front of the altar towards the end of the service. And there was a service where we had stations, including a tomb. It was an unforgettable experience in understanding what Jesus’ disciples and followers must have felt before His resurrection. There was also an Epiphany service where we handed out yellow foam stars with single words written on them, such as kindness, understanding, celebration, truth, etc. that represented a gift from God that each person would hold onto and contemplate over the next year. So many people were touched by that simple gesture and said it was a personal reminder of God’s presence in their lives.

And I’m grateful for all the prayer meetings and prayer walks I’ve been fortunate to participate in. I can honestly say that this is truly a sacred place. And I pray that God will continue to meet his people here."

It's good to reflect upon all the people God has touched while sitting in the chapel pews, all the marriages celebrated, all the deaths mourned, all the promise of God proclaimed – God has been present here in this building for 116 years! We THANK GOD for God's faithful presence, and we concluded our service with this prayer of thanksgiving:

“Loving God, we offer you the memories of this place, of the Union Church of Stow, of Highrock Stow Chapel. We offer you the memories we have heard and the ones we keep deep within ourselves. We thank you for the way you use concrete places and objects – baptismal waters, stain-glass windows, organs, Sunday school rooms, fellowship halls, meals and more – as places where you meet us and fill us with your goodness and grace! We now go from this place with sadness, with great gratitude for all you have done, and with the gladness that you are always with us and will never leave us nor forsake us. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen."