Evening photo of Trotwood United Church of Christ on Broadway St. in Trotwood.
Photo: Photo: Amelia Robinson
Photo: Photo: Amelia Robinson

Why did this local church close after 170 years?

There are real estate windfalls and then there are real estate windfalls. 

Representatives from two long-time Dayton area churches say this is not one of them. 

The former site of Trotwood United Church of Christ, 18 N. Broadway St., has been sold to Philips Temple Church.

The sale price for the property, which is set to be transformed for community outreach, was an undisclosed “Christian offering” far less than the $258,240 value assessed by the Montgomery County Auditor’s Office.

The church’s property was recently appraised at $293,000, members said.  

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Philips Temple pastor James E. Washington said it was an amazing gesture from Trotwood UCC, a congregation that traces its history back 170 years, and an opportunity for his 100-year-old church to impact more lives in Trotwood. 

“It was basically a gift to us when you consider the price,” he said. “We as a church, we are very grateful to God. We are are also grateful to the UCC congregation. They have faith in us to use the building in a way that glorifies God.”

The first church building for what until recently was Trotwood United Church of Christ was constructed in 1849 at a cost of $300.
Photo: Photo: contribruted

Located at 3620 Shiloh Springs Road in Trotwood, Philips Temple is a member of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church denomination and serves about 2,000 families. It also uses 2050 Germantown St. in Dayton for outreach. 

Washington said he received an out-of-the-blue call from Trotwood UCC trustee Todd Trautwein about church. 

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Facing an aging population and down from hundreds of active members to about eight to 10, Trotwood UCC’s congregation — the city’s oldest —  elected to close the church. 

Its last service was on New Year’s Eve. 

The church was a fixture in Trotwood before there was officially a Trotwood in 1901. 

A group described in a 1957 Dayton Daily News article as “a hardy group of Congregational Christians” used $300 in 1849 to built Wolf Creek Christian Church. It was the first church in Madison Twp.

The church’s Broadway St. location was built and dedicated in 1872 and eventually evolved into Trotwood United Church of Christ. 

Trotwood UCC’s preschool began in the 1960s and eventually expanded to offer daycare services. The daycare closed in 2006. 

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Undated photo of Trotwood United Church of Christ's daycare and preschool center.
Photo: Photo: contributed

The official decision five months ago to close the church was not easy. But Trautwein, a Trotwood UCC member for more than 30 years, said congregants wanted to end the church’s legacy by paying it forward. 

“It is a bittersweet situation, but I am so pleased that pastor Washington is going to take his ministry and build it and serve the people of Trotwood,” he said. “We were not trying to (make a) profit. We are doing it for a community.” 

The church plans to donate its proceeds to a list of charitable efforts that includes missionaries who work with children in Romania. 

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Rev. Larry Ganger, Trotwood UCC’s pastor from 2013 until its closing, said that the church and its members have made a major impact in the region.  

He ran down a long list of community leaders who attended the daycare as children.  Among them are politicians, teachers and others in positions of power. 

“The church has served its purpose in Trotwood and demographic has changed a lot,” Ganger said. “Our church no longer served the community and the people felt that it was time to close.” 

For years, the church also hosted a popular community cabbage roll dinner. Its Boy Scout program, which has produced several Eagle Scouts, will continue under Philips Temple. 

“Doing what we did is going to help the community in the future,” Ganger said. 

Members of Tom Devers’ family have attended Trotwood UCC since around 1895.

Todd Trautwein and Tom Devers, members of Trotwood United Church of Christ, stand in the church sanctuary the day before the building was sold to Philip's Temple Church.
Photo: Photo: Amelia Robinson

He considers it home. 

“We are so happy that our 170-year history will continue to help people in this town,” he said. “It is good news in Trotwood.”   

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Ruby Baker at the ground breaking of Trotwood United Church of Christ's fellowship hall in 1958.
Photo: Photo: contributed
Trotwood United Church of Christ's original steeple.
Photo: Photo: contributed
Sanctuary of Trotwood United Church of Christ on Broadway St. in Trotwood. The church's property was sold to Philip's Temple.
Photo: Amelia Robinson

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