EATON TWP. – Religious history runs deep in Roberta Balogh`s family, which has been attending the North Eaton Christian Church since the mid-1800s.
Balogh is the fourth generation of North Eaton Christian Church parishioners.
The history of the church is rich in Balogh`s past, because her family helped build one of the four churches on the corner of state Routes 82 and 83.
This year marks the 165th anniversary of the North Eaton Christian Church.
For Balogh, 77, the church is her roots. It made her the person she is today.
However, a few years ago, Balogh made the move to Lebanon, Ohio, to live with her son. Still, every six weeks, she makes the three-hour trek to Lorain County to be part of the church that has been a part of her life for so many generations.
“It was very hard to leave,” Balogh said during a phone interview. “They have been like family to me.”
The Rev. Paul Durbin is a man who knows how important a church family is in today`s society.
After all, he has been leading the congregation at North Eaton Christian Church for 25 years.
“I love my job because I love the people in the church. Christian ministry is something I have wanted to do since I was 7 years old,” Durbin said.
To date, there have been more than 40 pastors who have been called to serve the North Eaton Christian Church congregation.
“A church will last as long as it keeps focused on its mission to proclaim the lordship of Jesus Christ in the lives of those who claim him as lord and savior,” Durbin said.
The church, according to Durbin, began by locals who embraced the idea of Christian unity, as well as the right and responsibility of people to think for themselves.
And it seems that no matter where service is held, the heart of the church has always been its parishioners.
“I understand that the church began meeting in people`s homes. I have been told that the original location was somewhere near Butternut Ridge and Durkee roads,” he said.
Balogh said there have been four churches on the site where today`s church stands. Two of the four burned down in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Despite the structures burning down, members never gave up hope that God was going to show them the way.
“I am in a line of 165 years of people in ministry who have not only survived two major church fires, but who emerged from those ashes to a stronger, more productive ministry,” Durbin said. “In my 25 years, the church has not only survived, but moved forward in the midst of several difficulties that would have broken many other churches.”
Today the church is in the heart of Eaton Township. It has Bible studies that meet during the week, a new mother`s group that has day and evening fellowship meetings, an active Sunday school program for all ages and three youth groups from students in elementary through high school.
It also has an active men`s group that works to help people make repairs that they either cannot do themselves or cannot afford to do, Durbin noted.
“Some of the things we try, fail, but we look for other ways to make inroads. For a church that is 165 years old, I find that refreshing,” Durbin said.