A new beginning for Weirton Christian Center

This afternoon, the Weirton Christian Center will open the next chapter in its more-than-100-year history of service to the Weirton community.

From noon to 4 p.m., an open house will be held at its new building on Ivy Street. An official dedication service is scheduled for 2:30 p.m., at which time a ceremonial ribbon cutting will be held.

The center’s pre-school and after-school programs officially begin at the new location Sept. 4.

Today’s festivities will bring to a close eight years of planning, fundraising and community involvement.

Having had an opportunity to get a sneak peek at the building a few weeks ago, I’m confident the community will see why this project has been so important.

With several classrooms, activity areas, computer labs, a kitchen and meal area, and much more, it will help to meet the center’s needs for the future.

Originally, Christian Center officials wanted to construct the new building next to its current Elm Street location. However, several concerns came about, and a new site was needed.

Memorial Baptist Church stepped up, selling the Christian Center property adjacent to the church building, and last September a groundbreaking was held.

A great deal of work has gone into making this dream a reality. A lot of individuals, businesses and organizations have found a way to contribute, and I know Kim Weaver, the center’s executive director will be working to express the thanks due to them.

The Weirton Christian Center is a cornerstone of Weirton’s community. There is probably a small number of residents whose lives haven’t been touched by the center and its services in some way.

Whether on Elm Street or going back to its early roots in north Weirton, the Weirton Christian Center has provided educational opportunities, community activities and other services to local residents for generations.

Many of today’s families owe the Christian Center, in part, to their starting out in Weirton, as it provided services helping them to settle in after immigrating to the U.S.

Today, thousands have taken part in the youth programs offered.

I include myself among those numbers, having attended the Christian Center’s pre-school program in the early 80s.

I was an incredibly shy child, and the Christian Center provided some social interaction and early lessons which would help me along the way during my school years.

Others have told of the impact the center has made in their lives, through tutoring, computer classes, nutrition programs and more.

Who knows where they would have ended up without them.

Whatever services have been offered, and at whatever time in its history, the Weirton Christian Center has made a difference for the people of our area.

True to its roots, the Weirton Christian Center is a ministry, reaching out to assist those who need it, teaching the importance of education and community and then seeing those lessons spread into the world.

That’s really the point of it, too, isn’t it?

This is a new building and a new chapter. With continued support from the community, I doubt it will be the last building the Christian Center calls home.

Because, at its core, the Christian Center isn’t about a physical space or a specific location. It’s about the efforts to serve the people of Weirton.

The building unveiled today is a new start, but the mission remains the same.

It certainly will be different knowing the center is moving to a new location, but this will provide new opportunities for it, the children and the community in the years ahead.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)