Malachi's Promise "And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers...." Malachi 4:6

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Churches of Mineral Ridge

Main Street runs north and south through Mineral Ridge, Ohio. As its name implies it is the main street of the little village. During the years that I lived in the Ridge the address of every important business, store, school, and church was on Main Street. I don't think I could ever call the Ridge a thriving community but, for its small population of less than 3,000 people, the churches thrived.

There were four churches with independent buildings in the Ridge. I think there were other, smaller congregations in later years that met in unused storefronts, but there were only the four church buildings with larger congregations.

The church furthest north was Saint Mary's Church. It was a small, white frame building. The lower level of the church must have been tall because I remember a good flight of steps leading to the elevated front door. I tried to find a photograph or drawing of the building showing it as I remember it but was unsuccessful. At right is a photograph of a newer building which is much, much larger than the church I remember -- perhaps 3 or 4 times larger.

There's the briefest history of the church at Roman Catholic Diocese of Youngstown which tells me that the original church was started by Irish immigrants in 1870, and that it was a mission church from 1870 to 1881.

I was never inside St. Mary's Church and my memories are primarily limited to the little festival that was held on the church grounds every summer. My older sister went but my parents never wanted me to go. Finally, one year, permission was granted and I enjoyed the festival with my sister and her friends. It was definitely a little festival.

A little further south and on the west side of Main Street was (and still is) the Presbyterian Church. This postcard is from 1913, but I don't think the church was rebuilt from that time to now. If someone from the Ridge reads this, perhaps he/she can comment about whether this photograph is of the same church that still stands.

Our family didn't attend this church but I went into this church several times, perhaps for Girl Scouts or school meetings.

The Methodist Church was a long catty-corner from the Presbyterian Church and just around the corner from Furnace Street, where my family lived. This was the church I attended as a child and youth. In my mother's papers I recently found the dedication program for the church and will share additional information about it in a separate post.

The building is beautiful, both inside and out. In fact, the sanctuary was exquisitely beautiful. The rose window which you can see on the left side of the postcard was stunning. All of the tall windows that you see running along the side of the building to the left of the entry were stained glass images of the apostles and prophets. (In fact, every window in the church was stained glass!) To my child-eyes, sitting inside that church on a sunny Sunday morning, it was a wonder of cascading brilliant colors. It was easy enough to ignore the minister's sermon and focus on the images in the windows and the dazzle of light that came through them. The rose window, high above the altar, was particularly beautiful. Was there a predominant color? I think not. Perhaps my love of combinations of bright colors used together stems from looking at that rose window so often.

Though I'm no longer a Methodist it makes me sad to know that the church was recently closed, the congregation moved to another town, and the building sold at auction. I hope they don't tear it down!

These two churches, the Presbyterian and the Methodist, both had bells in their towers. On Sunday mornings we heard the bells ringing to call us to church a half hour before Sunday School started. During the week I think the bells rang at noon and at 6:00 p.m. There was never conflict in the timing. Perhaps one church's bells rang at noon and another at 6 p.m.

The last church, the Church of Christ, was much further south and on the same side of the street as the Methodist Church. It sat (and still sits) very close to Main Street with just a sidewalk between the church and the highway. My brother said there was talk of widening Main Street. If that should happen, I don't know what this church would do.

We never attended religious meetings at this church, either, but our Girl Scout troop met in its basement every week. We entered the ground-level doors that you can see on the right side and went down the steps. The basement was a large open room where we set up tables and chairs as we needed them. We had such fun there.

I don't remember this church having bells or chimes but perhaps it did. It was far enough south from our house that they would have been only a distant sound.

I hope none of the rest of these churches become known only in memory and history as the Methodist Church may soon be. The churches - and the high school - seemed like anchors in the Ridge: with those buildings in place one knew the Ridge wasn't going to disappear.

3 comments:

  1. Hi Nancy,it is an interesting post. A small town and many substantial churches. In Switzerland it was different. Some villages were catholic and some were protestant.The protestant villages had only a protestant church and if there were people of the other faith they had to go to the next village to worship. Perhaps today it is different.

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  2. Interesting to have so many churches for such a small town. The Methodist one sounds wonderful with the stained glass windows. Did they keep the lights off on Sunday to have light from the windows illuminate the inside?

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  3. Titania, that custom is really interesting. I wonder how far people had to travel from one village to another to go to church.

    Natasha, the Methodist church had hanging stained glass chandeliers, perhaps a dozen the length of the sanctuary. They didn't give off much light and when they had evening events it was more like a candle-light room. I don't think they had the lights on during church on Sundays.

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