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#406713 07/04/14 09:39 PM
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Lost Community in Lynch, KY

This was posted a few months ago at the Carpatho-Rusyns Everywhere group on FB. The poster was researching his great-grandparents' parish located in Harlan County, eastern KY. He knew the church name to be St. Nicholas Eastern Rite Orthodox Catholic Church AKA the Lynch Greek Orthodox Church AKA the Lynch Greek Catholic church.

Lynch itself was, at the time, a small coal-mining town consisting mainly of immigrants from Slovakia, Ruthenia, Hungary, and Ukraine. The church ceased its existence as an Eastern Christian congregation in 1929, when a local newspaper article reported its sale to a Baptist congregation. The church still stands today, as a Baptist community outreach ministry.

Members of the FB group, including John Schweich, David Dutko/DMD, and I, did a fair amount of research, without much success. I did find that someone else had posted at OC, back in 2011, regarding the parish, but there really was no more info to be had from that thread than what we already knew or surmised.

Our best guess was that the parish was 'independent', rather than being on any Catholic or Orthodox diocesan rolls, possibly served by itinerant clerics and that its canonical status changed with the ecclesiastical ties of whomever served it at the time. The mines there were short-lived (the church itself is believed to have existed as an Eastern congregation for less than a decade) and it's likely that, as the miners moved on to more fruitful employment opportunities, the church could no longer sustain itself.

I decided to post the photos and story here on the off-chance that we've a member in that area who might know something of it or might be geographically close enough to swing by and read a cornerstone (not visible in either of the pictures).

Many years,

Neil
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John
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John
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I received this email, with permission to post it. I'm glad the building is still being used to serve the Lord.
---

Hello,

Someone brought me a printed copy of the forum post at:
https://www.byzcath.org/forums/ubbthreads.php/galleries/406713

It was pretty dated, but I had some information on this church that I thought you may want to share or update. (I was not interested in joining the forum.)

I am part of an 18-year old ministry in Lynch (and the surrounding counties) called Meridzo Center. We have a number of ministry branches and outreaches. (See meridzo.com)

We are the current deed holders of the old church in your post. Local lore indicates that the church was originally built by the town's founders, the U.S. Steel Corporation, to accommodate the need for a Greek orthodox church so one of the miners could be married in one. Legend tells that he and his wife were married there and never returned so it was later sold to the Baptists.

As the local population diminished with the decline of the coal industry here (the town of Lynch went from 10,000 in its heyday to less than 800 today) the remaining deacons of the Baptist Church deeded the property over to our ministry because we were "the only ones using and taking care of the building". (Our small staff was meeting there for our Bible studies.)

Meridzo Center's directors are Lonnie and Belinda Riley. She grew up here in Lynch and he is from Hazard, Ky. He gave his heart to the Lord in this church and they were married there. He now the Pastor Emeritus of Community Christian Center (aka C3).

Once our ministry acquired the facility, we began operating it as a non-denominational Community Christian Center.

You can learn more about C3 at http://meridzo.com/community-christian-center/ and our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/c3lynch.

Rev. Eric Rutherford
Ministry Associate, Community Christian Center

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Very fascinating. This is truly a piece of history for this town. I wonder if there is anyway of finding out about the married couple. Must have been a very special miner to have a church built for his wedding. But I am sure as legends go there must be another story.
God bless for keeping the church alive in Christ!


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