Grace United Methodist Church gets new pastor

Grace United Methodist Church, built in 1919 and located on the corner of Salem Ave. and Harvard Blvd. in Dayton View is currently decked out for the holidays. TOM GILLIAM / CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER

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Grace United Methodist Church, built in 1919 and located on the corner of Salem Ave. and Harvard Blvd. in Dayton View is currently decked out for the holidays. TOM GILLIAM / CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER

A Dayton clergyman has been tapped to pastor two Methodist churches in the city, including one that’s more than two centuries old.

The Rev. Peter Matthews, currently the pastor at McKinley United Methodist Church, will also lead Grace United Methodist Church, which will celebrate its 210th anniversary later this year. Matthews, the first Black pastor at Grace, was appointed six months after the church’s previous pastor left.

He’s excited about the opportunity, but leading two churches will be challenging, Matthews said.

“I was a little overwhelmed and humbled by the opportunity because its such a sacred responsibility, given the reputation that Grace has, not only in the city of Dayton but in our denomination across the nation,” he said. “I feel that Grace can epitomize the genius of the United Methodist Church, which has social mobility.”

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Mckinley United Methodist Church pastor, Peter Matthews. “There’s been a tsunami of generosity that has poured into my heart and soul and I would not be a man, or human, if I did not position my life that other people might receive just a tenth of what I’ve been given,” Matthews said.

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Mckinley United Methodist Church pastor, Peter Matthews. “There’s been a tsunami of generosity that has poured into my heart and soul and I would not be a man, or human, if I did not position my life that other people might receive just a tenth of what I’ve been given,” Matthews said.

Credit: JIM NOELKER

caption arrowCaption
Mckinley United Methodist Church pastor, Peter Matthews. “There’s been a tsunami of generosity that has poured into my heart and soul and I would not be a man, or human, if I did not position my life that other people might receive just a tenth of what I’ve been given,” Matthews said.

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Matthews replaced Sherry Gale, who had been pastor at the church since 2008. She left in June.

Bishop Gregory Vaughn Palmer, appointed Matthews to Grace UMC as well as McKinley in 2016.

It isn’t uncommon for Methodist leaders to head more than one church, but Matthews’ leadership abilities are a good fit for the role, Palmer said.

“The leadership gifts that he brings, given the context of the church, where the church is, and the times in which we need to be the church,” are why Matthews was selected, Palmer said.

ExploreHistoric Dayton church celebrates 140 years

Appointing Matthews to the church doesn’t mean that Grace UMC and McKinley UMC will merge; it will be easier for the churches to collaborate.

Matthews has plans involving community outreach with the help of neighboring pastors, as well as expanding some of Grace’s current initiatives.

“We want to make Grace a community centered church,” he said. “Grace has a long standing in the community of being the gathering place for different special events. The previous administration started a wonderful program called Dayton Cooks, and we want to celebrate Dayton Cooks and expand its reach.”

Matthews will continue to run morning services virtually at McKinley and 10a.m. in-person services at Grace UMC. Grace can seat roughly 1,000, giving attendees enough space to social distance. Matthews said the churches are about five minutes apart, and wouldn’t present issues if he needed to be at either one .

In addition to the church services, McKinley will continue operations as normal.

“I’m very grateful that the people in McKinley, they recognize that my ministry extends beyond the boarders of the walls of McKinley. We’ve got very capable people who are not only excited about what God is doing there, but want to be innovative and imaginative in their own way,” he said.

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