First United Methodist Church on Euclid Avenue and Epworth-Euclid United Methodist Church at University Circle will merge their congregations and begin worshipping at Epworth-Euclid in January.

Epworth-Euclid — known as the Holy Oil Can because of the towering spire sprouting from its octagonal roof — will be renamed University Circle United Methodist Church. The combined congregation will number about 500.

First United, a grand, century-old building with big gas bills and repair needs, will stay with the congregation, but will take on a different life, said the Rev. Kenneth Chalker, who is pastor of both churches.

Chalker said First United, at the corner of East 30th Street, is talking with social service agencies, other religious denominations and Cleveland State University about moving programs into the church.

“There are a lot of possibilities,” said Chalker. “Unlike what’s happening to the Roman Catholic churches, which is about, ‘How do we close?’ What we’re doing is about, ‘How do we keep it open?’

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