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Church History

     Gay Street United Methodist Church traces its origin to 1810 when the Knox Circuit of Methodism was formed.

     The first minister was Enoch Ellis, an itinerant preacher who held services in the first log courthouse on the Public Square in Mount Vernon and in private homes about the town.

     The first Methodist Episcopal Church building in Mount Vernon was erected in 1831 on North Mulberry Street. At this same time, the first Methodist Episcopal Sunday School was organized. Prior to that, church school had been conducted by students from Kenyon college.

     In 1851, a division occurred in the local Methodist Episcopal Church. One sector - the "western" charge - began worshiping in the Banning Chapel, which was located on North Sandusky Street.

     The "eastern" charge purchased property on the southeast corner of Gay and Chestnut streets, and in 1852, the first church building was erected on that site. The Rev. J. Kennedy was minister.

     In 1865, the "eastern" and "western" charges reunited in the North Gay Street location. The Banning chapel was sold to the Lutherans and the proceeds were used for a new parsonage which was located on West Chestnut Street, between Mulberry Street and Sandusky Street.

     In 1886, the church building was extensively remodeled and enlarged, and was named Gay Street United Methodist Episcopal Church. At this time the original pipe organ was built and installed in the church.

     The old firehouse next to the church was purchased in 1916 and was transformed into Sunday school rooms.

     Considerable enthusiasm for a new church building occurred in 1924, and in 1925 a new building committee was formed, architects secured, and a contract for the present church building was let in 1926.

      The new church was approximately a year and a half in the building, during which time services and Sunday school classes were held in the Memorial Building, the county courthouse and the Knox county Savings Bank.

     The building, of English Gothic design, was built of Indiana sawed limestone, with the exterior stones laid to correspond to the old English cathedrals. The church proper was built in the form of a Latin cross and with a seating capacity of 750.

The pipe organ was rebuilt The size of the instrument was increased, and some of the original pipes from the 1886 instrument were retained.

     From September 4-11, 1927, there was a week-long celebration and dedication of the new building. Ministers from other protestant churches in Mount Vernon, ministers from the other Methodist Episcopal churches in the county, and former ministers of the Gay Street Church, as well as Bishop Theodore Henderson, of Cincinnati, participated in the services.

     The General Conference in 1939 approved the merger of the Methodist Episcopal church and the Methodist Protestant Church and the church on Gay Street was re-named Gay Street Methodist Church.

     The Evangelical United Brethren Church and the Methodist Church merged in 1968, under the approval of the General Conference, and from that time to the present, the congregation has been called the Gay Street United Methodist Church.

     In 1977, after 50 years of use, the pipe organ was once again rebuilt and updated. With this accomplishment, the instrument has 42 ranks (families of pipes), 17 of which were reconditioned and reused from the 1886 and the 1927 instruments.

Because Gay Street church is centrally located, it has been the site of many county, district and conference programs and community activities.

Gay Street United Methodist Church

18 North Gay Street

Mount Vernon, OH 43050


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