New Castle News

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October 6, 2012

First Christian Church Sold: New owners look forward to carrying on work of past 150 years

NEW CASTLE — With its imposing clock tower and soaring spire, the Civil War-era church on Kennedy Square can cast a long shadow.

For the Rev. Kris Kauffman, though, it was more of a foreshadow.

In October 2010, as Kauffman’s three-year-old Family Worship Center was preparing to move into an empty church at the corner of Cunningham and Long avenues, the pastor stood on the square, offering a prayer at the annual Life Chain event.

A photo of that moment, with the venerable brick church then known as First Christian in the background, later appeared in the New Castle News above the headline “Family Worship Center Moving.”

Almost two years later to the day, Kauffman’s congregation is moving again – this time into the same 148-year-old church that loomed behind him on that day in 2010.

The dwindling First Christian flock put its church up for sale in the spring, and in the wake of its purchase by Family Worship Center, a “Sold” sign popped up this week inside the black, wrought iron fence that surrounds the historic house of worship.

The building has been a part of New Castle’s cityscape since at least 1868, when it was first occupied, according to Bart Richards’ 1964 book, “The Churches of Lawrence County.” A cornerstone, though, bears the date 1864, and additions to the structure were created in 1911 and 1962.

When Kauffman looks at the building and considers its past, he shudders at the thought that it might have ended up like the former Elks Club. That once-majestic, 1914 structure stood empty for nearly 30 years at the corner of Falls Avenue and North Mill Street before it deteriorated to the point that it had to be torn down in 2011.

“That breaks my heart to think of that happening to this church,” said the pastor whose full-time job is with Emrick Masonry in Butler. “There’s a sense of honor here. The date on the building is 1864 – one year before Lincoln died.

“There have been so many good people there doing the work of God, we are honored to be able to step in and continue to do the work that was started in that building almost 150 years ago.”

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