Church struck by fire recognizes first responders, community

On Wednesday, Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church presented a resolution recognizing the “first responders” to the Dec. 13 fire at the old church at 111 N. Cherry St. in downtown Lebanon.
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On Wednesday, Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church presented a resolution recognizing the “first responders” to the Dec. 13 fire at the old church at 111 N. Cherry St. in downtown Lebanon.

The leaders of a 150-year-old Lebanon church badly damaged by a December fire this week recognized the workers who responded to the emergency and community members who have since allowed the church to continue its mission.

On Wednesday, Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church presented a resolution recognizing the “first responders” to the Dec. 13 fire at the old church at 111 N. Cherry St. in downtown Lebanon during a Lebanon City Council meeting.

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“The officers and members of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church of Lebanon, Ohio, extend perpetual gratitude to the first responders of our city and neighboring communities for outstanding professionalism in carrying out your duties,” said the resolution.

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The church then broadened its recognition.

“We are thankful to our city government, the ecumenical and interfaith community, our business organizations and civic groups and the many caring individuals who make our town a very warm place to call home,” the resolution said.

The church was established in 1858 and the building dedicated in 1861.

Since the fire, church members have been working toward restoration, while holding services and other events at alternate locations.

“We have been told the building’s foundation is strong so our hope is to restore the church interior. It will be a long process but we are continuing to be blessed by the support of the community and our AME church family,” Rev. Karen Schaeffer, the church’s pastor, said in a press release issued Thursday.

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On Feb. 18, the church’s traditional worship service will be conducted at Resurrection Lutheran Church, 1270 N. Broadway, Ohio 48 in Lebanon, starting at 11 am.

Bible studies are being held on-line.

In partnership with Prodigal Son Ministries, members of the church prepare and serve free community meal on the fourth Tuesday of the month at the Lebanon United Methodist Church. The meals are free and open to the entire community.

The “Blessing Box” at the church is still accessible for community members in need and donations.

Cash and check donations are being accepted at Sharefax Credit Union, 1550 Genntown Dr., next to Walmart in Lebanon. For bank information, visit https://www.sharefax.org/us/office- locations-hours/.

Donations can also be made using PayPal at http://www.bethellebanon.org/donations or by checks payable to BETHEL AME CHURCH, 111 N. Cherry St., Lebanon, OH 45036

“We appreciate all of the support from our neighbors, family and friends in the community. We thank our ecumenical community and our connectional AME Church for their enormous outpouring of love, prayers and support,” Schaeffer said.