CCA buys John Knox Presbyterian Church for women’s facility

RELATED: John Knox Presbyterian Church was home to 3 community organizations



The family within John Knox Presbyterian Church is going its separate ways as the building has been sold, but they will take fond memories with them.

The church at 1806 Market St., built in 1917, was sold to Community Corrections Association for $60,000.

Dr. Rick Billak, CCA director, said federal and state referrals to CCA are increasing. The agency plans to remodel the back of the church building into a 35-bed facility for women.

“A new building would have cost $1.5 million. Retrofitting the church was more cost efficient,” he said. He added that the location aligns with CCA’s “campus” of six buildings on Market Street. Those include the old South Side Library, a former bank building and car dealership. Remodeling has repurposed the sites, Billak said.

The former church sanctuary, minus the pews, Billak said, will be turned into a dining and visitation area. “It has a calming effect,” he said of the setting.

This week, Alex Downie, member of the building committee; Chris Downie, member of John Knox session, the governing body, and treasurer of Meals on Wheels; Kathy Esseniyi, Meals on Wheels president and John Knox deacon; and Jim Roberts, session member and Meals on Wheels driver, met to discuss the sale. The John Knox congregation is still deciding its course.

Alex Downie expressed happiness mixed with relief that CCA bought the building. “I know they will take care of it,” he said, adding the agency is invested in the community and how it has improved the look of Market with landscaping.

Three community organizations housed at the church had to find new sites.

Meals on Wheels is moving next door to Calvary Towers, 1840 Market St.

The English Center, a site of Youngstown-city ABLE (Adult Basic and Literacy Education), is relocating to the North Side.

The Foster Grandparents Program operated by Family and Community Services in Ravenna is still searching for a suitable site.

The church members noted the church was advertised for sale in February by Friedkin Realty. The sale to CCA came about in late summer, and closing will be in early December. CCA is giving the community organizations until the end of the year to move.

Roberts said two stained- glass windows, the Good Shepherd and the Garden of Gethsemane, have been removed.

The church contracted with ByceAuction and Realty to conduct an online auction of the contents of the building until 6 p.m. Nov. 14. Visit to see a list that includes pews, vintage oak chairs and tables, slate chalk board, butcher block table, Shenango China place settings and office equipment.

Esseniyi said the session opted to donate its 1928 Voteller-Holtkamp-Sparling organ, rebuilt in 1994 by Victor Organ Co., to St. Patrick Church, 1420 Oak Hill Ave. “Keeping it in the community and the neighborhood made sense,” Roberts said.

The church will conduct a final service at 11 a.m. Sunday when it will present the organ to the Rev. Ed Noga, St. Patrick pastor. Kris Harper, St. Patrick music director, will play the organ, and the two church choirs will sing.

For the Downies, Esseniyi and Roberts and other members, the last service will be bittersweet. “This has become an extended family for me,” Esseniyi said. She said she sees the donation of the organ as “the church continuing its mission work.”

Roberts said he and others will “miss the togetherness” of the church family.

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