beginnings of Epworth Methodist Church can be traced back to the year
1877. In that year, several Protestant residents of West Covington met
in the home of Charles Taylor on Main Street (now Parkway) to discuss
the possibility of holding religious services. Until funds could be
raised and a church constructed, the Protestants of the community gathered
in the tool shed of Mr. B.H. Hathaway. Sunday school classes were also
held in this building.
In 1878, ground was broken on Main Street for a church building. Several
prominent Northern Kentuckians participated in the fund drive. William
P. Devou donated the stone to construct the foundations for the new
house of worship. Amos Shinkle, a wealthy Covington entrepreneur and
dedicated Methodist layman, agreed to match all the contributions donated
by the members. In this way, enough money was raised to purchase the
lot and to build the church. The new frame Gothic Revival church was
dedicated on January 30, 1879 with appropriate ceremonies.
Initially, the new Union Protestant Church served all the Protestant
residents living in the neighborhood. Differences in theology and worship
among the denominations, however, soon led to a group leaving the congregation.
The remaining members asked the Methodist Episcopal Church to reorganize
the congregation. The name of the congregation was changed to the Union
Methodist Episcopal Church and a part-time minister was provided.
progressive little congregation established a YMCA branch in several
rooms located at the rear of the church building. This YMCA was officially
dedicated on the evening of October 30, 1902 by the pastor, the Reverend
Joseph Gibson. The year 1902 also witnessed the establishment of two
educational endeavors at Union M.E. Church. A kindergarten was established
that year by the pastor's sister, Miss Matilda Gibson. Also, an industrial
class was established by the ladies of the congregation with the first
session being held on April 5, 1902. The teachers of the industrial
program included: Mrs. John Bentz, Miss M.E. Gibson, Mrs. J.E. Kelch,
Miss Clark, and Miss E. Winald.
The annexation of West Covington to Covington in 1916 resulted in a
change of name for Union Methodist Episcopal Church. The City of Covington
already had a Union M.E. Church (located at the southwest corner of
Greenup and 5th Streets). The Methodist Conference, therefore, requested
that the West Covington Church choose a new name. The members of the
congregation decided upon the name "Epworth Methodist Episcopal
Church." The name change took effect in 1918.
Epworth grew steadily during the early years of the Twentieth Century.
By the 1920s, the need for a new church had become apparent. In August
of 1922, a committee was formed to find a suitable site for the construction
of a new church edifice. The members of this committee included: Benjamin
Wisenall, Edward Chapman, Earl Stickley, Ben Fox, and Harry Jameson.
The lack of sufficient funds, and later the Great Depression and World
War II, greatly delayed the building project. The new church did not
become a reality until the 1950s. The brick Classical Revival structure
was ready for occupancy in August 1953. The new building sported four
Doric columns and beautiful art glass windows. The new church was built
at 1229 Highway Avenue at a cost of $100,000 (the old church on Altamont
Street became the home of the Goodwill Lodge No. 936 Free and Accepted
More recently, Epworth has focused on outreach to the Covington community.
In 1999, the congregation's ladies group began a free store called "Treasures
on Earth." Staffed by volunteers, the store is open on each Saturday
of the year. The store provides food, clothing and other items to the
needy of the area.
News Enterprise, May 5, 1963, p. 1 and October 6, 1997, p. 1; Kentucky
Post, February 22, 1902, p. 5, March 20, 1902, p. 5, March 29, 1902,
p. 5, October 30, 1902, p. 7, September 25, 1918, p. 1, August 12, 1922,
p. 1, October 8, 1977 and December 25, 1999, p. 2k.