S.O.S. Save Our Steeple -Pilgrim UCC
Organized by: Victor Ing
Founded in 1834, Pilgrim United Church of Christ has a rich history within Cuyahoga Falls, located in Northeast Ohio. The church's founding members' names are seen to this day throughout the city as street names, the names of schools, at its library and as part of a legacy of community involvement which includes mayors, city councilmen and school board members. In fact, one of Pilgrim's founders was the first woman elected to local office, long before women even had the right to vote. She later passed away within the church's walls. Pilgrim's history is as rich as its social awareness. Members of the congregation have long spoken of its participation as a way station on the Underground Railroad during the early and mid 19th century. This tradition of "thought through action" continued with the promotion of women's rights, the civil rights movement and in modern times with a strong focus on today's social issues. Pilgrim's congregation has always been on the leading edge of progressive thought. Although Pilgrim UCC believes strongly that a church is more than just its buildings, it also recognizes that it is blessed to have one of the most beautiful structures to be found in the entire state of Ohio. A highlight of this historical structure is its enormous steeple which can be seen throughout the city and has long been an important part of the city skyline. Although the structure has had multiple additions through the years, its basic sanctuary beneath the steeple has remained unchanged for nearly two centuries. However, its incredible age and the elements have begun to degrade the original structure including its steeple. The congregation realized action needed to be taken immediately when significant portions fell off during a storm in mid-2015. Recognized as part of the National Historic registry Pilgrim realizes they have a responsibility beyond themselves to maintain this beautiful piece of history. The church has played a key role in the history of Cuyahoga falls and of the entire Western Reserve area of Ohio. Nearby still stands many of the original storefronts that served as the local center of commerce early last century. A block away is the historic site of an amusement park that stood on the banks of the mighty Cuyahoga River. New developments continue to happen as the community embraces this historic area within which Pilgrim Church stands front and center. Pilgrim UCC has a strong congregational history although its membership is quiet and relatively small these days. The entire congregation is always more focused on what happens outside of its walls and within its community and allow its buildings serve as a center point of the community, its doors always open to those in need. On any given Saturday throughout the year a wedding is likely to be performed in the sanctuary. Every Saturday night going back well over a century Alcoholics Anonymous has been meeting in its social hall. Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts both call the church their home and all at times are involved in the free community lunch which once a month opens its doors to not only feed but send home with groceries those needy in the community. So many groups and organizations make use of the church facilities that a special committee has been formed just to juggle the calendar and the logistics involved with so much participation. As the traditional centerpiece of a community, Pilgrim Church is steeped in history. Its steeple is a landmark known by all in the area and seen by tens of thousands of commuters a day. The current initiative to save the steeple will have a lasting influence on the legacy and preservation of the community for many more generations to come. Pilgrim UCC appreciates the opportunity to serve the community and to stand as a reminder of the deep history of Cuyahoga Falls and the entire Western Reserve.