Historical Society hosts annual church tour

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 8, 2002

Saturday night, streets surrounding some of Ironton's historic churches were filled with candlelights and Christmas carols.

The Lawrence County Historical Society along with the churches presented "The Spirit of Christmas," a candlelight tour in which First Baptist Church, Christ Episcopal Church, First United Methodist Church, First Presbyterian Church, St. Paul Lutheran Church, St. Lawrence O'Toole Church and Gateway Baptist Church presented a program to tour participants coming in from the cold. The tour ended with refreshments at the Lawrence County Historical Society Museum.

"I've been coming for several years, and I think this is Ironton's best-kept secret," Ironton resident Rayetta Waldo said. "I appreciate the churches and museum for doing this wonderful program."

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Because of the week's inclement weather and remaining snow on the ground, attendance this year was not as high as years before. Nevertheless, approximately 50 people went on the tour, Ann Bush, scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 104 from Ironton said. The troop acted as tour guides for its fourth year as a part of a community service project.

"I'm pleased because I didn't think there would be that many people here," Ruth Markin, museum docent said. "Our expectations were smaller because of the weather."

The Ohio University Southern instrumental ensemble followed those on the tour playing Christmas carols as they walked through the streets. Band members battled against the freezing temperatures, trying to keep their instruments warm -- and playable. Dr. Pat McCoy said the band was glad to help with the tour regardless.

Kitts Hill resident and Massachusetts native Cynthia Boxer was on the tour for the first time. She said the tour reminded her of the churches in Massachusetts her family attended when she was a child.

The Rev. Harold Demus, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, said his church was pleased to be a part of the tour this year.

"We were very excited," he said. "It's too bad that so many people in our town don't know about the churches or don't know about each other's churches. It's a good thing, and we're pleased with the way the museum organized this."

"I was a little worried because of the snow, but it didn't stop me," Ironton resident Lee Staley, who has went on the tour since it started 11 years ago, said. "It touches my heart, and I remember what Christmas is all about."