Church started as a storefront

Though the church was founded in the 1930s, Marietta’s First Church of the Nazarene didn’t always sit at the corner of Colegate Drive and Millcreek Road.

Pastor Terry Schmelzenbach said the church started out downtown.

“Actually, it started out in a storefront downtown on Front Street,” he said. “I would say that was sometime in the 1930s…around 1932…Some police (officers) were sent down because of a traffic jam. (The church was) having revival services.”

Schmelzenbach said from there, the church went to Harmar.

“The Church of God on the corner used to be the Church of the Nazarene,” he said. “It was built in 1950. In the early 70s, they started building here. The dedication of this building was in 1975.”

The church has had several add-ons, said Schmelzenbach, the most recent of which happened in the 1980s.

“We built on the gym and fellowship hall in the mid-1980’s,” he said.

Judy Phillips, director of Children’s Ministries, said since the add-on, teens and college students are over there, in the upstairs sections. Children are in the downstairs of the main church building, and Phillips said work is going on to paint the walls.

“We started a little over a year ago painting and renovating,” she said. “It may take us another year to finish. We wanted to change it from plain walls to something more exciting for the kids.”

In addition to painting the downstairs, several rooms have been transformed into something with more exciting themes, where lessons are taught.

Phillips said each week a lesson is taught in a different room: theater room, computer room, temple room and craft room, which makes up “Journey Land.”

“Each week (children) go to a different room,” said Phillips. “One week they’ll be in the drama room, hear a story and act out the story. The next week they’ll hear the story in the computer room. We have the computers set up…for something like a game. As they answer questions about the story they advance in the games. They really like that part. Then in the theater room, they get to see a movie about the story.”

Phillips said the diversity is important for all children.

“Children learn and we all learn in different ways,” she said.

Schmelzenbach said it’s impressive how the children appreciate the different activities.

“You know, they do (love it), those that come,” he said. “Once they come, it’s just really impressive. People are very busy today with Sunday activities. Sports is huge, way more than it used to be…You try to do everything you can to make it exciting (for the children). We have people tell us their kids cry if they tell them they’re not going to church (that day).”

Schmelzenbach said after renovations to the sanctuary a few years ago, which meant new windows, carpeting and theater lights, another new renovation may soon be happening.

“We’re going to double this (entryway),” he said. “We’re hoping to get started on it in a year. We’re on the fundraising side of it right now.”

In the meantime, Schmelzenbach said the focus of the church would be on outreach, children and growing the congregation through God’s word.

“We’re very outreach minded…We’re a growing church,” he said. “We talked about the word of God being the seed and we’re the soil…We’ve got to plant the seed (in all our children)…We determine what happens; we determine the fruit. God’s fruits are amazing; God’s word is living, alive, and if you spend time with it, it will speak to you.”