112-year-old Lakewood church raises millions to better serve community

LAKEWOOD, Ohio - In an age where many churches are struggling to keep doors open one in Lakewood has amassed millions.

"Three and a half million dollars is more money than I can imagine ever having," laughed Rector Keith Owen.

Rector Owen is in charge of Saint Peter's Episcopal Church, a 112-year-old congregation. Although it took more than a decade he says the 150 worshipers on an average Sunday raised the money themselves.

"It's changed our character, I think," said Rector Owen. "We're kind of rowing against the tide -- the cultural tide. Mainline churches are shrinking and closing and we're not immune to that; we struggle with that too, but we've decided we're going to, to use the gambling metaphor: we're putting all our chips in."

Betting on faith, they saved $3.5 million to renovate the church, preserving its more than century-long presence and are looking for new ways to enrich the community.

"One way we give back to the community is our once a month community meal, hosting the day care center," said Rector Owen. "We look forward to the day when we can have recovery groups back here."

The money provided a new facility for Saint Peter's Childcare Center. Courtney Nerad, the center's executive director, said they serve about 100 children and provide summer camps. The inclusive center also helps provide quality child care for lower income families.

"Been with them now for over 50 years and so we feel like the partnership that we have is great," said Nerad. "Our families are also very fortunate to be part of this parish community as well and we are looking to the next century."

By investing in the community, Rector Owen says the credit goes to the congregation who reached within themselves to make sure Saint Peter's is around for generations to come.

"We're here not just for us, we're here for you and so we're investing in this place, in this ministry, in this community," said Rector Owen. "Let's work together to make it all better and see what God does with it."

The grand opening of the church is Sunday between 12 and 3:30 pm.

Click here to learn more about Saint Peter's Episcopal Church.

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