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Central Christian celebrating 140th anniversary

The Central Christian Church in Ironton is celebrating its 140th anniversary this weekend.

Pastor Jim Williams said he thinks the reason the church has lasted for so many years is simple.

“I think it has to do with faithfulness to God and his blessing on the church,” he said.

He should know. Although he appointed the pastor of the church three months ago, he actually grew up in the church.

“When I heard the previous pastor had left, I just started praying about it and my wife started praying about it,” he said. “God just put everything into place.”

He left his job as the principal as the King’s Way Christian School in Orrville, Ohio to return to Ironton. “The overall goal of faithfulness and seeing lives enhanced and changed is not different. At the core, I am still doing the same job.”

The church, located at Seventh and Ellison streets, is in its third building since it was founded in 1867 on Third Street.

Vincel Willis has been a member of the church since 1962 and has been a church elder for 20 years. He thinks the church has lasted for so long “because it’s a Bible-based congregation.”

“We are leaning on the good Lord above to help us grow and to stay at this,” he said. “We were established based on the Bible and we continue to follow it.”

As the congregation grew, a new church was built on Fifth and Quincy streets in 1908.

Jerry Hankins, chairman of the Central Christian Church board, vividly remembers when the new church was completed near the Ironton High School in 1975. After a short service in August, the congregation marched 11 blocks from the old church to the new church. He said church leaders carried the various offerings and congregation members carried songbooks.

He doesn’t remember if they sang as they marched, but he does remember the first song they sang in the new church.

“As soon as we entered the building up there, we broke into ‘Let’s Just Praise the Lord’ and it has been a stand-by ever since,” Hankins said.

Among the celebrations they will have this weekend, the church will present awards to people who have been church members for 50 years.

“There is over 100,” Williams said. “Many of them are shut-ins now but there will probably be 40 or 50 of them here.”

There will be a meal after the service. Pastor Glen Wheeler, who led the congregation on its march, will return for the special services this weekend.

Williams said he doesn’t expect to be around for the 200th anniversary, he expects the church will still be there.

“As long as we are faithful to God’s word, God will bless the church and it will be here until Jesus returns,” he said.