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Warren church marks 100 years

WARREN — The McKinley Community Church off Elm Road, which was established in June 1921, is celebrating the milestone of turning 100 years old this month. A celebration service is set for 10:30 a.m. June 27.

Pastor Daniel Smith, who started at the church earlier this year, said the anniversary service will celebrate not only the church, but also give glory and thanks to God with ringing of the church bells, including three times for God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

The service will include Mayor Doug Franklin and former McKinley Community Church pastor David Luther, who teaches the cadets at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station. Smith said Luther will lead in prayer, and the cadets will post the colors. Golden Street Singers Charles and Brenda Jarvis will lead the music.

Trumbull County Probate Court Judge James Fredericka will have a representative from his office make a presentation.

“We will say prayers for our soldiers and veterans who serve seven days a week protecting our country,” Smith said.

Pastor John Griffith, who had served 19 years as church pastor before retiring, said he will discuss the church’s 100-year history. He lived most of it as an 87-year member.

Highlights include in the summer of 1935 when members carried a piano bench that they had made and marched along Elm Road to the church singing “Onward Christian Soldiers.” They also had built pews, tables and other items.

The official church dedication was held in July 1935 with 100 church members and 210 in the Sunday school. By 1936, the membership had grown to 166.

In 2006, Chime Master carillon bells were installed at the church and play four times per day — 9 a.m., noon, and 3 and 6 p.m.

Smith said with all the issues the country has faced with politics, law enforcement, race and COVID-19, it is important to come together. Prayers will be said for first responders, health care workers and EMTs.

“We want to use this as not only the church turning 100 but a century of changes in America. We will highlight how we are a country that is a great melting pot of ethnic backgrounds, race and different church denominations. We will pray for healing for all those who have been mistreated and for healing of the hurtful wounds. We pray for this nation to have unity through this healing process of God and for those who have died from COVID,” he said.

“If we can have unity that Jesus prayed for that will be great. We pray for our politicians and lawmakers to help get the nation back to one nation under God,” he said.

Smith said it is amazing the church has served the community for so long.

“I just got on board this year to be in this position. It is members of this church who have made it what it is,” Smith said.

John and Janice Griffiths have both been serving in the church for 65 years. Janice Griffith, who started at the church in 1955 and got married there in 1956, has served as the accountant and treasurer. She became church clerk in 1962.

Janice Griffith said the women’s auxiliary has actively supported the church since its beginning selling pies, canning jam, and helping dinners and events at the fair.

“We are thankful the church is still here. We weren’t sure about that a few years ago,” she said.

She said the church has been at its current location since the 1920s, starting as a Sunday school.

John Griffith said because of its name, some people get confused, thinking it is in McKinley Heights near Niles when it is in Warren.

“It was named that because of the McKinley School, which used to be here,” he said.

He said when there was talk of putting a church at the location, the area was considered to be out of town. “The county fairgrounds was in the location where Warren G. Harding is located, and the church always set up a tent at the event serving three meals a day during the fair,” Griffith said.

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