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Goodyear Heights United Methodist Church in Akron Closes After 98 Years

An Akron church that was formed in 1919 has closed its doors. As WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia reports, parishioners say it’s due to changing times.

Goodyear Heights United Methodist Church has been at its current home – across from Reservoir Park -- in East Akron since before World War II. At its peak, the Tudor-inspired building hosted a packed pre-school, plus so many worshippers it had to have two sets of Easter ceremonies.

Yesterday, the Rev. Sam Martin led about 70 people in their final service in the building. He says the congregation shrank as parishioners aged and families faced more competition for time on Sundays.

“That became the day that they did their shopping; that they did everything.”

Music Director Dale Dobbins agrees, adding, “We’ve had several services with football and baseball games going on across the street. People just seem to have more to do, and church has become less of a priority.”

Parishioner Peg Johnston joined the church at age 5, in 1947 and says it started losing members in the 1970s, as there were fewer Goodyear employees in the nearby neighborhood. But she also says another factor came into play.

“The change in ministers: When congregations rejected or didn’t like a certain minister, they fled out of here.”

Allison Kirby also grew up in the church but in the 1990s.

“It’s really sad. I feel like we didn’t do our part – the younger generation. I just quit going to church. I didn’t find anywhere else to go; I just didn’t make the time that I should have to come.”

Pastor Martin says most parishioners will join Wedgewood United Methodist in Ellet. Strategic Life Ministries has bought the Goodyear Heights building and will allow the Pentecostal Abundant Faith Ministries to continue renting the chapel, as it has since 2013.