Like any missionary, I am in the beginning stages of getting acquainted with my mission context: Medina County, Ohio. In trying to understand the distinct history of Medina County, I went to the library and started reading and looking for details on its history. I found an informative DVD produced by the Medina County Commissioners aptly named, “The History of Medina County.”
The documentary goes all the way back to the last ice age and the formation of the terrain around Medina and NE Ohio. The early settlers came westward to the Medina area seeking to rebuild their lives after the fires of the Revolutionary War. It is amazing to hear how the original settlers of Medina worked together for the common good. Neighbors and residents depended on each other for their survival. Two days a month any man over the age of 21 was required to work for the welfare of their neighbors: building houses, roads, churches, and other infrastructure. From the beginning of the original settlers there has been a rich Christian heritage. One of the first buildings erected was a church. Construction began at sunrise and by 4PM that afternoon, the first worship service was held!
The documentary runs parallel with the timeline of major events in America’s history and shows how Medina has grown alongside our nation. As Cleveland’s industry began to boom (lets hope this happens again soon), there was a need for the workers to have food and Medina County’s agricultural industry really thrived. The documentary illumined notorious figures like A.I. Root and a giant couple (both were over 400 lbs and over 7 feet tall – their child was born the size of an average 6 month old) who moved to Medina. The documentary goes into the formation of all the county parks, businesses, and historical landmarks of Medina county. As unemployment and the Great Depression hit the broader nation, Medina county held strong taking care of each other and being secured by their main industry: agriculture.
As I watched the stories of WWII, Korean, Vietnam veterans, of business leaders and entrepreneurs, of visionaries and authors I got a sense of the unique heritage of Medina County. My prayer is that this heritage and story of Medina County isn’t lost as the landscape of Medina continues to change from rural/agricultural to suburban/residential. Just yesterday at a local coffee shop (owned by a Detroit transplant) I met a new resident from Holland! Although I am told, Agriculture still remains a leading industry in Medina County despite the influx of new residents.
The history of Medina County is still all around us. As you walk around the town square, visit the parks, and see the historical buildings a voice from the past calls you to pause and remember the sacrifice, innovation, and yes, the religious heritage of Medina County.