100th year for local Christian Science presence in Steubenville

The presence of Christian Science services for 100 years in Steubenville is an occasion that will not go unnoticed as church leaders have finalized plans to celebrate the centennial milestone.

Observances by the congregation of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, Steubenville, 300 Lovers Lane, will get under way beginning June 23 and include:

— Reading Room hours from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., from June 23-28;

— A Wednesday evening testimony meeting beginning at 7 p.m. on June 25 where those in attendance will hear a short Bible lesson and then hear testimonies of how individuals are using Christian Science in their day-to-day lives for Christian healing of every sort. The Wednesday evening testimony meeting will be conducted by H. Lee Kinney.

— There will be a free, one-hour Christian Science lecture at 5 p.m. on June 28 led by Tom McElroy, Christian Science practitioner, of Jamaica Plain, Mass. His presentation is titled “How You Can Change the World.”

McElroy, who lectures in both English and French, earned a university degree in philosophy and “now loves meeting new people and sharing fresh, inspiring ideas leading to a better understanding of God,” according to promotional material.

— Two anniversary services will be observed on June 29 – one at 10:30 a.m., which will be a traditional Christian Science worship service, followed by the centennial service at 3:30 p.m.

The Sunday services will be conducted by James W. and Ronald P. Higgins, who are brothers, along with soloist Lakin Weaver; pianist Ruth S. Brown; and organist H. Lee Kinney.

The celebrations are open to the public.

It was May 31, 1914, when 12 people responded to a notice, placed in the Herald-Star by May C. Bates and conducted the first Christian Science service in the Bates home at 617 Logan St., Steubenville.

Thereafter, the growing group met regularly for Sunday services and each month conducted two Wednesday evening testimony meetings. The growing congregation, now meeting in various homes, applied to the Christian Science denomination, headquartered in Boston, and was approved in November 1914 to advertise as a Christian Science Society. The Steubenville services were then listed in the March 1915 issue of the Christian Science Journal, an international publication.

In 1916, the Junior Order of Mechanics, sublet their hall on the third floor of the Sulzbacher building, 106 S. Fourth St., Steubenville, to the Christian Science Society for Sunday and Wednesday services. In February 1917, a Sunday school was established and staffed. In the spring of 1922 the second floor of the same building was made available and remodeled for services, and in an adjoining room a Christian Science reading room was established and opened to the public throughout the week. Also, by this time, a Wednesday evening testimony meeting was held regularly each week.

After 10 years in this location, the society moved to a first-floor location in a large dwelling at 741 N. Fourth St. Again, the reading room was in an adjoining room.

For recognition as a “church” by the Christian Science denomination, 16 members were required, and one member must be devoting his or her life to the full-time public practice of Christian healing, approved and authorized by the mother church in Boston, as a Christian Science practitioner.

The original members were: Hattie P. Andrews, Blanch K. Bartow, CS (the Practitioner), May C. Bates, Ruth Bates, Elizabeth Birkhard, Charlotte M. Feckey, Charles P. Filson, M. Estelle Filson, Anne J. Graham, David W. Graham, Dorothy Hephner, Clement W. Maxwell, Rose Maxwell, Caroline Slee, Lucille Marie Bates Shanks and Nellie Sullivan. Subsequent to Mrs. Bartow, the following individuals, from the Steubenville church have applied to and been authorized by the mother church to advertise as full-time public practitioners of Christian Science: Harriett May, Margaret Moore, Victoria Whitsett, Ella Carson Lee, Adalia Teeple, Erma Hogue Miller, Carrie Troutman, Eleanor Gilman, C. Monte Ross and H. Lee Kinney.

In May 1930, the directors of the mother church authorized the local society to change its title to First Church of Christ, Scientist, Steubenville, Ohio. This welcomed milestone was celebrated locally and dually recorded with the secretary of the state of Ohio.

In the spring of 1936, the property at 1300 Maryland Ave., Steubenville, was purchased and remodeled for a church home. It was dedicated Nov. 19, 1944, with the aid of a grant from the trustees under the will of Mary Baker Eddy. The grant was repaid and a new building fund established.

The reading room was staffed and maintained in the Maryland Avenue church until 1950 when, once again, it was moved downtown to the second floor of the Kresge building at the corner of Market and Fifth streets. In November 1954, the reading room was moved to a first-floor suite in the Washington Square building at 147 N. Fifth St.

In 1961, two lots at the corner of Lovers Lane and Southeast Drive were purchased for a new church building. The building on Maryland Avenue was sold to the Seventh Day Adventist congregation with the provision Christian Science services could be conducted there until the new church edifice was ready for occupancy at 600 Lovers Lane.

After plans were drawn by Worley & Associates, a firm of architects in Cleveland, construction began in September 1964; the cornerstone was laid June 10, 1965; and two services (morning and afternoon, both with standing room only) were conducted in the new building on Sunday, Nov. 7, 1965.

With the aid of another grant from the trustees under the will of Mary Baker Eddy, the balance of the initial $260,000 mortgage, held by the Miners and Mechanics Bank, was paid in full, and the church was dedicated to God and the service of all mankind on Aug. 10, 1981.

Overflow crowds of friends and well-wishers attended the two services that August Sunday, along with a large crowd of people attending later that evening to participate in a free public lecture on Christian Science led by Betty Carson Fields of Atlanta, Ga. For information, visit the website at christiansciencesteubenville.com or e-mail christiansciencesteubenville@comcast.net.

The denominational website is christianscience.com