YSU Donation represents sacred duty to save history

The first major contribution has been made to the local Sacred Landmark archive.
YOUNGSTOWN -- "The Central Christian Sunday School March" will march on through history.
The music was written for Central Christian Church, which once stood at the site of the Thomas D. Lambros Courthouse and Federal Building at 125 Market St., and later moved to 3000 Market St., according to a former member and church elder, Leslie Viczay, who is a history teacher at Poland Seminary High School.
Central Christian ceased to exist Dec. 31, 2001, and gave its building and equipment to a growing inner-city ministry, New Beginning Assembly of God.
But on Thursday, Viczay donated a box of material from her former church to the Sacred Landmark archive at Youngstown State University's Maag Library. The Sacred Landmark archive is part of the library's department of archives and special collections.
What's included: In addition to a copy of the march, the donation includes photos of the congregation in the 1920s, the church's 1894 articles of incorporation, a list of original members, and the bylaws and minutes of the church meetings in the first year.
Some churches today give money to their members and tell them to multiply it as told by Jesus in the New Testament. Central Christian did it in 1950 and recorded comments from the parishioners. One man confessed he forgot to do anything with his $10. Those comments were included in the donation.
Information on Central's stained-glass windows and who paid for them was also included, as was information on members who were killed during World War II.
Delighted: Thomas C. Atwood, the executive director of the library that includes the archive, couldn't have been happier.
"It's the first significant donation, so it's pretty monumental," Atwood said.
Viczay said the donation will make sure that what Central Christian did is not forgotten.
Is it a way of keeping the church alive?
"Yes," Viczay said. "That's a nice way to say it."
The material will be available at the library or through its Web site.
Central Christian was part of the Disciples of Christ denomination. Other material was donated to the Disciples of Christ Historical Society in Nashville, Tenn., and genealogical information was donated to the nearby Arms Family Museum of Local History.
Viczay said she had to pay to donate material to the denomination's archives. There's no cost to donate items to YSU, although Viczay did include a check to help defray the archiving costs.
Partnership: Norma J. Stefanik, a research associate and urban designer at Youngstown State University's Center for Urban Studies, runs the local Sacred Landmark program. It's part of a partnership with Kent State University, Cleveland State University and the University of Akron.
She's already created a list of more than 350 sacred landmarks in Mahoning County that includes churches, synagogues, mosques and other houses of worship.
Records such as Central Christian's are important because much of the Mahoning Valley changed in recent decades as people moved away after the steel industry collapsed.
"So much history is being lost," Atwood said. "This is a living project."
Because one of the first things newcomers did was build houses of worship, Stefanik said, chronicling sacred landmarks shows the history of the area. The rest of the archives department includes YSU records, historical information from the Valley, and rare books.
Atwood said the archive is digitally copying local news footage for posterity. Much of it includes items about churches, he said.

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