CASTINE — Castine Church began as a branch of the Price’s Creek Church in the mid-1800s.
The first official meeting house was built in 1850 in Castine on State Route 722 west of U.S. 127. Prior to that, meetings were held in private homes.
The second meeting house was built in 1867 on State Route 722, east of U.S. 127, but it was not until 1922 that the church became officially known as the Castine Church of the Brethren and no longer a part of the Price’s Creek Church.
Due to the growth of the congregation and no way to expand at his location, a new facility was built north in the Village of Castine on U.S. 127 in 1992-93. The church continued to grow and once again had to expand, this time building a Life Center behind the Worship Center in 2004-05.
According to historical accounts, Castine Church of the Brethren, like other Churches of the Brethren, can trace its roots back to Schwarzenau, Germany, and Alexander and Margaretta Mack and six others [George Grebi, Lucas Vetter, Andy and Johanna Bony and John and Johanna Kipping] who were all baptized in the Eder River in 1708.
Pastors having served the church were: Glen Rust 1931-58, part-time pastor and a school teacher; John Good, 1958-66 as full-time pastor; Eugene Lenker, 1966-73; Ralph Wagner 1973 until the summer of 1978 when he died in a motorcycle accident; Calvin Cheek, 1978-85; and Eric Anspaugh, 1985-1998. Greg Hyre became senior pastor in July 200 and continues to serve in that capacity today.
“When I entered the ministry, Calvin was here,” said Hyre, who noted that the average attendance at the church is 450.
The 1979 Tri-Village High School graduate entered the ministry in 1990 at Eaton Church of the Brethren and worked at a plant in Lewisburg. His second church was in Cincinnati, not a Church of the Brethren, and he subsequently returned to the Eaton Church before coming to Castine in 2000.
“I made my move from staff pastor to senior pastor,” he said about his time at Castine. “I graduated from Cincinnati Bible College and Seminary, and got my doctorate through Grace Theological Seminary in Winona, Indiana.”
The son of Dottie Hyre and the late Jerry Hyre, he is married to the former Shaun Richards, a 1982 Tri-Village High School graduate and now in the Tri-Village Hall of Fame. They are the parents of one son, Zachary, who graduates this year from Franklin Monroe High School. He will be going to Grace College to study business marketing, his father said.
Pastor Hyre said there is a strong group of young people who attend the church.
“We’re trying to develop the young people,” he said. “Our families, parenting and marriage ministry focuses on four core areas: Development of men, development of women, development of children, and development of marriage. And, then we have outreach and worship. All the way through that, fellowship is important to us.”
He said that the church office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
On staff with him at Castine Church of the Brethren are Pastor Andrew Costa, the Next Generation pastor; Pastor Gary Cloyd, pastor of families; office help, Gwen Gunckel, Robin Oda and Beverly Garber; while Renita Hoblit is on the custodial staff.
Hyre said he and Cloyd have known each other most of their lives. They went to school together.
“We were in each other’s wedding,” Hyre said. “We had briefly discussed serving together in the ministry a while ago. I came here, there was a need, and I had discussed it with Gary. That was about 14 years ago.”
The Castine church, according to the pastor, is connected with Grace Resurrection Community Center as well as the Pregnancy Help Center, both in Greenville.
“We have a strong food bank ministry here on our property,” he added.
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