Westlake United Methodist Church was founded in 1825 as Dover Methodist Episcopal Church in what was then the township of Dover, Ohio. After meeting in homes and barns for about 28 years, the congregation raised enough money to erect a building in 1853. This small frame structure served as our sanctuary for over 100 years and still stands on Center Ridge Road, just a few hundred feet from our present church site. Until about 1878, the church bell (dated 1854) rang daily at noon and 6 p.m. It was also used as a fire alarm and was tolled for the deceased.
Early pastors were of the famed “circuit rider” variety, serving several churches in an area. In the first 125 years, there were over 60 different preachers assigned to our church.
The first remodeling included new benches and took place in 1905. Around 1930, an addition for Sunday school was added. Later, a full basement addition with a kitchen and dining hall was added on the west side of the property and the church building was moved atop this basement. Meanwhile, Dover Township had been divided into Bay Village, Dover Village, and North Olmsted. Dover Village was renamed Westlake in 1940, after which the church’s name changed to Westlake Methodist Church.
Beginning in 1951, we were assigned our first full-time pastor, Dr. Edwin Brown. WUMC since has had six full-time pastors: Rev. Warren Tropf, Rev. Jon Freshwater, Dr. Ken Ehrman, Rev. Judy Wismar Claycomb, Rev. John Butchko, and Rev. Mollie Brown, our current pastor.
The cornerstone for our current church was laid in 1955 when membership reached 450. We worshiped in our new building for the first time on November 4, 1956. In 1969, an education wing and steeple were added. Several renovations have taken place over the years. We expanded the parking lot in 2012 to accommodate all of our members, visitors, and the multiple activities which take place at the church.