New Life Episcopal Church in Uniontown, Ohio is the result of the successful merger of two Episcopal parishes in 2002.
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Firestone Park, Ohio
A Firestone family endowment launched the construction of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Firestone Park, a neighborhood south of Akron, Ohio. Harvey Firestone donated the land for Firestone Park to create a housing community for his employees. The church was completed in 1928. In the early 2000s, after 50 years of serving the Firestone Park area, membership had declined and the parish was unable to support a full-time priest.
St. Michael and All Angels, Uniontown, Ohio
In the late 1970’s, St. Peter’s in Firestone Park started a new church plant in nearby Uniontown, in northern Stark County, Ohio. The group held its first services in a bank building, and then in the Uniontown Firehouse. Named St. Michael and All Angels, the congregation eventually purchased an historic church building near the intersection of Cleveland Ave. and Route 619 in Uniontown, at the intersection of Stark, Portage and Summit counties.
One of the oldest churches in Stark County, the building stands on the site of the first local German Lutheran church, established in 1828. Known in Stark County history books as “the church on the hill,” the building was remodeled six times beginning near 1881. Before it became an Episcopal Church, the old church graveyard was covered over to become a parking lot. Today, a beautiful historical marker stands at one corner of the property to commemorate those buried there, including four Revolutionary War soldiers. After a fire gutted the church in 1983, it was rebuilt and purchased by the thriving St. Michael and All Angels parish. By 2001 St. Michael’s, like St. Peter’s, was looking for a half-time priest for its faithful, but declining, congregation.
New Life Episcopal Church
The Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio appointed The Rev. Stephanie Pace to serve half-time at St. Michael’s in 2001. Because St. Peter’s was also looking for a half-time priest, thoughts turned to the possibility of Rev. Stephanie serving both churches. Within a short time, the benefits of merging the two churches became clear, and the two vestries began discussions. New Life Episcopal Church is the faith family resulting from the friendly merger of these two churches. It celebrated its first Eucharistic Service as New Life in December 2002.
With the merger complete, St. Peter’s church in Akron was sold, and the church in Uniontown became the home of the merged congregation. As the church continued to thrive and grow, many needed repairs and improvements were made. In 2007, the building became fully handicapped-accessible with the addition of a lift, and in 2012, the kitchen was gutted and completely renovated to better accommodate the significant food ministries of the parish. The roof and steeple were replaced/repaired and additional rooms were created for more worship and study locations. The parish has made good use of the improved building for many service ministries, including preparing food for local free meal programs and conducting social events for adults with disabilities. While little of the 1828 building survives, the nearly 200-year-old “church on the hill” has been the spiritual home to many generations of faithful Christians and continues to be a beautiful, historic home from which to love God and love others!
“…built some 50 years ago…remodeled. It is a large, fine-looking frame building with a steeple that rises, perhaps, seventy-five feet in the air. The membership is quite large.”History of Stark County, 1881