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Closed Niles church distributes last funds

NILES — When the Niles Southside Presbyterian Church closed its doors this summer, its members decided to donate the remaining church funds to various area organizations.

Dori Kagarise, an elder and member, said low membership led to the decision to close the historic church located below the viaduct. She said the last service was held in July.

The First Presbyterian Church of Niles on Robbins Avenue closed its doors in summer 2020.

“It is sad that there are no Presbyterian churches left in Niles,” Kagarise said.

Kagarise, who has served as a Sunday school teacher and assistant treasurer at the church, said membership had dropped to 12 in 2019.

Members made donations throughout the summer to Niles Community Service, Jobs Daughters Bethel 35, Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County, SCOPE Inc. of Trumbull County, Angels for Animals, Ohio Lions Pediatric Cancer Foundation, Niles Historical Society, Melvin Jones District 13 OH4 Lions Eye Care Foundation, Mahoning Valley Hope Center Inc., Salvation Army, Masons, Knights Templar, Children’s Dyslexia Centers Inc. and Grand Lodge of Ohio Charitable Foundation.

“All the checks were for $5,349 except for the Mason’s check, which was split three ways. We had 12 members, and they all got to choose one organization to give the money to. Two members chose the Animal Welfare League, so they received two checks,” she said.

All the money has been given out from the sale of the church as of late August.

Missy Walsh, church member, said she decided to help the Niles Historical Society, which operates the Ward Thomas House and Museum.

“The historical society has done so much for the community over the years,” she said.

Audrey John of the society said the check is appreciated. She said the Niles Southside Presbyterian Church has been among the many historic churches in the community.

“It has an important history in Niles,” she said.

Kagarise said the church sold for $71,000 and after Realtor and other fees, the members received approximately $63,000. She said a company purchased the church to use for storing items.

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