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A century of service

Few things can claim to be a cornerstone of a community for a century or more.

The Weirton community is fortunate in that is has such an institution in the Weirton Christian Center.

Founded in 1917 by a Baptist missionary, the Weirton Christian Center began in what is now the north end of the city, setting up shop in various buildings to both spread the faith and provide services to the residents, both old and new.

Among those services were immunizations, as well as English and citizenship classes, specifically geared toward the growing immigrant community establishing their residencies in the area as they sought work in the local steel mills.

Recreation and community activities soon followed, with basketball leagues, skating, dances, cooking classes and more offered. A gymnasium was built in 1922, with a health clinic, kindergarten classes, an outdoor swimming pool and satellite locations for other services soon to follow.

As the community grew and changed, so did the mission of the Weirton Christian Center, and in 1979, it would move to its current Elm Street location. A shift also would occur with the programs offered. As a massive wave of immigrants slowed to a trickle, and local school districts began to offer kindergarten programs of their own, the Christian Center has moved toward preschool, as well as after-school and summer programs, offering nutrition classes, tutoring, computer training and others to meet the needs of 21st century learning.

While we celebrate the countless achievements of the last 100 years, we also must applaud the steps being taken to begin its second century of serving Weirton.

On Sunday, the day after observing its centennial, the Weirton Christian Center broke ground on its planned new facility, to be located behind the Memorial Baptist Church on Ivy Street.

Serving approximately 300 children, the Christian Center has been looking for years to expand its facility, and through looking at various options, this solution has been presented. While it will create some challenges, we agree it will be fitting in providing these youth with a safe and secure place to learn and grow.

That’s what is important as we look to grow, both as residents and as a city.

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