Center will be dedicated
East Richland Friends Church marking 140 years
ST. CLAIRSVILLE — East Richland Evangelical Friends Church will host its 140 Year Celebration as well as the dedication of the Ickes Family Life Center this weekend.
Senior Pastor Jerry Wenger said organizers are hoping for a turnout of more than 1,000 people at the ceremony Sunday morning.
The IFLC is named after Wayne Ickes, who served as senior pastor of the church for more than 50 years, along with his wife, Barb. The two will be present at the dedication ceremony and will be recognized, along with other contributors.
Additionally, the ceremony will include praise and music, and time to honor God.
“Our whole goal is to lift up the message of Christ in the valley,” Wenger said. “This was a part of Wayne’s vision 20-some years ago, to build this building, and now it’s built.”
Friends Church began at Vineyard Hill School, about a half of a mile away from the current location, 140 years ago, Wenger said.
“The church was started out of a revival and a small group that established. They started that in 1879,” Wenger said.
The 28,000-square-foot IFLC officially opened Monday evening with more than 110 children participating in a Youth Summer Basketball League.
“We want kids to have fun. We also want them to be learning,” Wenger said.
Construction of the facility began in April 2018. Robert E. Murray, president and CEO of Murray Energy, donated $750,000 for the project and also donated services to get the job
Wenger said that Murray Energy has been a strong supporter of the facility, providing about $500,000 worth of services on the project. It aided in the engineering and architectural drawings, he said.
Robert E. Murray is a member of the church, and Murray Energy’s corporate headquarters along U.S. 40 in East Richland is located adjacent to the new facility.
The newly built facility includes a dual full-size gymnasium, kitchen, science center, snack bar area and six classrooms.
“We built a family life center, which is more of a community center. That’s what we envisioned it as. It will have sports, needs meetings like divorce recovery, grief care, youth ministries. We hope to have it open on the weekends, like on Friday nights after ball games, where kids can come and hang out, a safe environment,” he said.
Wenger said the IFLC is not just for the church, it is for the community. He called the facility a “multi-generational building,” as the ministry includes members of all ages.
“The whole thing is to create a greater family emphasis for the valley,” he said.
The facility will function not only as a community center, but also as a high school for grades nine through 12 for students of East Richland Christian Schools. The former high school building will house the junior high students, Wenger said. The IFLC will open for classes in August. East Richland Christian Schools has an enrollment of about 200 students from elementary through high school.
The celebration and dedication ceremony will begin at 10 a.m Sunday at the IFLC, 67885 Friends Church Road in St. Clairsville. The ceremony is scheduled from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. All are welcome to attend.