Churches of Ohio

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Religion in Ohio

Religion has always been important to people of Ohio. Beginning with the native inhabitant’s religious activities that are evident by the earthworks that they left behind. The Moravian missionaries[1] are thought to be among the first whites that sought to bring Christianity to the Delaware Indians.

Pioneers that had suffered hardships of the frontier life went to church which provided them with a stabilizing foundation. Settlers were fired with religious zeal as they moved into the Ohio area and they quickly established churches.

From the late eighteenth century to the early nineteenth century, Ohio’s religious community boomed. Ohio became home to the Shakers, Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Campbellites, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and eventually included every major Christian faith. During the twentieth century, numerous non-Christian denominations were established in the state making Ohio a home to many different religious beliefs.[2]

Denominational histories for groups such as the Church of the Brethren, Evangelical, LDS (1830 to 1838), Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Moravian, Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic are listed in the Locality Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under OHIO - CHURCH HISTORY and OHIO, [COUNTY], [TOWN] - CHURCH HISTORY.

Ohio's Church History

Advent Christian

Seventh-day Adventist

Amish and Mennonites

  • In the 1700's Ohio, there were several orders of the Amish faith found in Ohio. They are the Old Order, New Order, Swartzentruber, Beachy, Andy Weaver, and the conservative Mennonites and the Amish Mennonites. Most of the orders held church services in their homes. The Mennonites usually have service in church buildings. In the 1700's between 50 and 100 Amish families arrived in America, settling mostly in Pennsylvania. Many others followed in the 19th century. Over the years, various orders of Amish spread into Ohio. [3] [2]

Assemblies of God

  • In 1905 T. K. Leonard, a pastor in Findlay, received the Pentecostal message and the experience, and became a pioneer for the movement in Ohio.[2] The Assemblies of Godhas always considered itself a “voluntary, cooperative fellowship” rather than a denomination.


  • "In January of 1790 in a block house near what is now Cincinnati, nine earnest men and women organized this Baptist Church. The land was given by one Major Sites and he united with the church the next day after the gift.The Rev. John Gano was the first pastor to be followed later by the Rev. John Smith.The church was called the Columbia Church."[2]

Seventh Day Baptist

  • In 1789, a very small group of Seventh Day Baptists from Westerly, Rhode Island, settled at Marietta, Ohio; and in 1806 another small group settled in Mahoning County, Ohio.[2]


Brethren in Christ

  • The beginnings of the Brethren In Christ Church point back to Upper Switzerland, and to various scattered groups of earnest sincere Christians in Europe, who began to state their spiritual convictions courageously, from the time of the Reformation. Among these groups were the Waldensians, Moravians, Anabaptists, Mennonites and Pietists.[2]
  • Church of the Brethren Network of Genealogy & History resources.

Christian Union

  • Christian Union was officially organized on the third day of February 3, 1864, in Columbus, Ohio. Rev. J. F. Given,The publisher of the Christian Union Witness, Rev. J. F. Given and Dr. J. V. B. Flack of Illinois, were two of the most influential men of the Christian Union movement..[2]

Church of Christ, Scientist

  • As far as can be determined, Christian Science was first introduced in Ohio in 1885 when Gen. Erastus N. Bates came to Cleveland and set up an office in the downtown business section to practice Christian healing. Gen. Bates had been a prisoner in Libby Prison during the war between the states. Here he contracted a disease from which he was subsequently healed by the reading of the Christian Science Textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy.[2]

Congregational Christian

  • In 1796 the First Congregational Church in the Territory was organized in Marietta on a community basis, welcoming all denominations into membership. Daniel Story was the minister, and Mrs. Mary Bird Lake opened the first Sunday School.[2]

Community Churches

  • Central Community Church of Columbus was organized in the Old Canal Hotel on February 6, 1843. On December 17 1843 the congregation was please to announce the dedication of a new church building. The congregation took action to give women an equal voice in church management. [2]

Disciples of Christ

  • Also known as the Campbellites Alexander Campbell was the founder of the Disciples of Christ Church.[2]

East Orthodox

  • Many people from Greece landed in New York, some stayed there yet others went farther west into Ohio. Many Greeks are of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. The Greek Community rented various halls for their Church services with visiting priests from New York and other eastern cities would come to perform church services and celebrate Mass with them. The largest concentrations of Greeks were in the industrial centers of the state, such as Cleveland, Toledo, Youngstown, Canton, Akron and Columbus. The first permanent priests who came to these Ohio communities had also migrated from Greece. They were the missionaries of the Greek Church in America. They were delegated with the double duty of teaching religion and perpetuating the Greek language.[2]

Protestant Episcopal

  • The Rev. Joseph Doddridge, a visiting minister, made trips across the river to Ohio from what is now West Virginia, to the village that was at the site of the old Fort Steuben. In 1796 he was holding regular monthly meetings there and was ordained a priest in 1800. The parish was organized in Steubenville, in 1819. [2]

Evangelical Lutheran

Evangelical Mennonite

  • Mennonites had migrated to the United States and Canada in search for religious freedom. The actual founding of the movement was originally spearheaded by a body of Zwinglian dissenters in Zurich, Switzerland. Jacob Rupp of Archbold, and later Abraham Steiner of Bluffton, became leaders of Evangelical Mennonite Church in Ohio. This movement began in the years 1864-66. [2]

Evangelical United Brethren

  • The Evangelical United Brethren Church, was established in 1926 by combining two known as The Evangelical Church and The Church of the United Brethren in Christ.

Evangelical and Reformed

  • Preaching in Montgomery, Preble and Warren Counties, Rev. John Jacob La Rose came to Ohio from North Carolina. His preaching began in 1805, then in 1809 he organized St. John Church at Germantown. Rev. Thomas Winters became the pastor in Germantown in 1815, and organized congregations in Miami Valley were he also served as Pastor. [2]


  • The American Friend Obituary Index The American Friend, published between 1894 and 1960. Information might include, maiden names of women, parents, survivors, dates and places of birth and marriage, meeting affiliation, and previous residences.[2]

Churches of God

  • Families from Pennsylvania Churches of God were settling in Ohio in 1830. Beery, Sherrick, Beidler, Funck, Metzler, and Hartman were some the families that emigrated to Wayne County with Joseph Adams as their preacher. In 1834 Thomas Hickernell and Jacob Keller were appointed to the Ohio Circuit.[2]

Church of God in Christ

  • The Church of God in Christ had it's first official state conference in Fairport, Ohio on Oct. 29 1857.[2]

Church of God, Pentecostal

  • Rev. B. L. Leonard and Robert Cossum established the first congregation of the Church of God Pentecostal in Findlay, Ohio, early in 1907. Rev. Efford Haynes set the church in order in 1909 after arriving in Chillicothe from Cleveland, Tennessee. [2]


  • Cincinnati had the largest Jewish community in Ohio in 1849, numbering an estimated 4,000 our of a population of 155,00.[2]


  • Most of the Lutheran's in early Ohio, spoke only German so most of their early services were conducted in German. They gravitated toward Germantown and Germantown's many townships. [2]
  • The Ohio Lutheran Church Records page contains valuable information about how to obtain church records.


  • Among the first Mennonites to settle in Ohio were Christian Stehman (Stemen) and his family, who came to Fairfield County, Ohio, from Red Stone, Penn., Brennemans from Virginia, the Beerys, the Hubers, the Goods, the Shanks, the Funks, the Gingeriches and more. They began to settle in the Northwest territory in 1803. Henry Stemen, the son of Christian, was ordained to the ministry in 1809.


  • Francis M'Cormick, John Kobler, Lewis Hunt, Henry Smith, and Colonel Joseph Moore, were all instrumental in establishing the Methodist Faith in Ohio. The first Methodist Church in the Northwest Territory was built on land beside the Scioto Brush Creek in 1800-1801. [2]

African Methodist Episcopal

  • August 28, 1830, was the date the Western Annual Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church was organized at Hillsboro, Ohio. There were 15 ministers and 1,194 members that covered the territory west of the Allegheny Mountains. [2]

A.M.E. Zion Church

  • The A. M. E. Zion Church is an offshoot church organized by Bishop J.W. Hood in September of 1891. [2]

Wesleyan Methodist

  • Wesleyan Methodist Church, the predecessor of the Wesleyan Church of America left the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1843. Strong opposition to slavery was a primary reason for this break-away. [2]


  • Christian Frederick Post and John Heckewelder had been sent by the Moravians to Ohio in 1764 . They made their first attempt establish a mission near what is now Bolivar, on the Tuscarawas River. David Zeisberger preached to the Delaware Indians.[2]

Church of the Nazarene

  • 1908 brought an organization of a central district of the church, comprised from Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. [2]

Church of the New Jerusalem

  • The Church of the New Jerusalem was formally organized in 1811, and in 1818 the church was incorporated. Thomas Newport organized the Western Association of the New Jerusalem Church in 1818. Newport's farm held this congregation's first annual meeting, hosting approximately 300 people. [2]


United Presbyterian

  • Several congregations were organized in the growing Ohio communities; Mahoning organized in 1798, Struthers in 1804, Liberty in 1805, First Cambridge in 1822, and Northfield in 1833. Devoted members historically came from Scotland and Northern Ireland. The 1900's brought members from Pennsylvania and Kentucky.[2]


  • June 16, 1866 in Cleveland The First Dutch Reformed Church in Ohio was established.[2]Ohio

RLDS or Community of Christ

  • The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS) was formally organized April 6, 1860 [4] in Amboy, Illinois under the leadership of the son of the founder, Joseph Smith, III. The Church's name was changed to The Community of Christ in April 2001.
  • The Ohio RLDS Church Records page has valuable information about these church records.

Roman Catholic

  • Frenchman set up the first Catholic white settlement in 1790 at Gallipolis near Marietta. Cincinnati hand another group of Irish origin in 1811. [2]
  • The Ohio Roman Catholic Church Records page contains valuable information about how to obtain church records.

Salvation Army

  • The Salvation Army, which came from England, was in organized in Cleveland, Ohio by 1872. [2]


  • May 19, 1897 was that date that The Ohio State Spiritualist Association was organized and incorporated. This took place in Toledo.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints


  • Belpre and Marietta organized Universalist congregations at the same time in 1818. [2]

Volunteers of America

  • Cleveland was the first home to Volunteers of America in May of 1896. [2]


  1. Moravian Church Genealogy Links
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 2.25 2.26 2.27 2.28 2.29 2.30 2.31 2.32 2.33 2.34 2.35 2.36 2.37 "Churches in the Buckeye Country"; A History of Ohio's Religious Groups Published In Commemoration Of The State's Sesquicentennial By The Religious Participation Committee Of The Ohio Sesquicentennial Commission An Inter-Faith Group, 1953; Digital Book
  3. Who are the Amish?
  4. Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints