WELLSVILLE - More than 20 years ago, the members of the Yellow Creek Presbyterian Church decided it needed to expand, taking on a mortgage on the faith they would be able to pay it back one day.
On Sunday they celebrated the accomplishment of paying it off three years early, with a party in the Art Minto Fellowship Hall, part of the building that was added on. The addition included the hall with a kitchen, new bathrooms and Sunday school rooms with walls.
Prior to that, Sunday school was held in a large room with divided partitions. As one member, Richard Joy pointed out during the celebration, you could hear everyone in all the rooms during the Sunday school lessons. Now there are rooms downstairs and room for more people.
The Rev. Derek Marotta of Yellow Creek Presbyterian Church north of Wellsville burned the mortgage for the church’s Sunday school addition, named for Art Minto. The church managed to pay off the addition three years early. (Photo by Deanne Johnson)
Although not everyone may have believed the expansion should be done, others pushed for it. A neighbor of the church at the time, Art Minto would walk across the street after work and see where he could help, according to his wife, Carol. Unfortunately, through tragedy Minto did not live to see the completion of the building. The hall was eventually named for him and it was his photo on the table on Sunday when the church celebrated the last payment of the building.
The church paid it off through donations, steak dinners, yard sales and even some help from the shale gas boom.
"This was only successful because you had the right motivation," the Rev. Derek Marotta told the group who gathered for the celebration. "You didn't do it because you were raising money. You did it because you cared for others."
Part of the celebration included Boy Scouts from Troop 59, which is sponsored by the church. Alex Pollak, who served with the Boy Scouts along with Minto, lighted a candle in memory of Minto and talked about their time hiking the Appalachian Trail together. Minto even crafted drawers for a new cabinet in the church from old cabinets in the Boy Scout cabin.
The Rev. Oommen K. Thomas sent an e-mail to the church congratulating them on their accomplishment and remembering money given toward the addition in 1978. He left Yellow Creek in 1989. Other members of the church became choked up remembering their families growing up in the church and the effort through the years to make the dream of the addition a reality.
"We paid it through faith," said member Bill Williams. "We had faith we could do it and we did, through God."