Summit United Methodist Church was created in 1977, as a merger between University United Methodist Church, Indianola United Methodist Church, and the Wesley Foundation at the Ohio State University. The next six years were spent re-designing and remodeling the current space (the former Wesley Foundation) to create a contemporary space for worship, an updated kitchen, and other necessary renovations. Summit United Methodist Church had its first worship service in the newly renovated space on May 1, 1983. In 1988, a beautiful red Reiger Organ from Austria was installed in the Centrum.
Open & Affirming
Over the years, Summit has been a forerunner as a place of welcome for all people. Its founding pastor (now Bishop C. Joseph Sprague, ret'd) spent one-third of his time working to desegregate Columbus City Schools, and the church split over a vote that allowed the Gay Student Alliance to have its Valentine's dance at the church, which was decided by one vote, and allowed the Metropolitan Community Church (a church with many LGBTQ members) to worship in one of Summit's buildings rather than in the smoky bar where they had been meeting. The church then took a stance in the '80s when they were willing to offer overnight housing to an LGBTQ student group. Since then, people in the LGBTQ community and from all kinds of backgrounds have found Summit to be a place of welcome and hospitality. In June of 2006, Summit officially became a reconciling congregation, joining a network of other churches that are open and affirming to the LGBTQ community.
Campus ministry has been a core part of the identity of the congregation since the merger and continues to be of primary importance today. With its history as the Wesley Foundation at OSU and its location in the heart of the University District, the Summit community continues to care deeply about the spiritual needs of students. Summit is a unique place where students can not only find community with one another while off campus, but also become part a larger and more diverse intergenerational community.
Families & Children
From 1965–2006, the church hosted a preschool that served families in the University District. During the summer of 2011, Summit hosted a 6-week Freedom School in partnership with Maynard United Methodist Church and the Children’s Defense Fund. The school served 100 students in the University District from grades Pre-K through Grade 12 as an intentional outreach effort to families and children in the Weinland Park neighborhood. These efforts continue today through the University Area Enrichment Association's annual Freedom School and after-school program that serves youth in the neighborhood.
Summit is home to the University Area Enrichment Association, Crazy Faith Ministries, Yay Bikes!, and the Ohio Student Association. The partnerships with these organizations have continued to facilitate more active involvement in the community. For many years, Summit was home to a vital food pantry. Now, Summit partners with Neighborhood Services, Inc. (NSI) to provide much needed food, clothing, and resources to University area families in need.
A New Future
Summit has now entered into a time of revitalization and growth. There is a new energy in the air and a new excitement about reaching out to the community and serving others. The journey continues and in many ways, the work of Summit in the world has just begun!