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Herald-Dispatch file photo A portion of the crowd gathered at the Keith-Albee Theater for the opening meeting of the 1964 Tri-State Preaching Mission.

Editor's Note: This is the 299th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.

HUNTINGTON - In the 1950s and early 1960s, Huntington was the epicenter of a series of Christian religious meetings that attracted thousands of participants.

Begun as the Huntington Preaching Mission with 10 speakers in 1954, the first meeting involved 100 churches, representing 10 different denominations.

Over the years, the event steadily grew and in 1958 was renamed the Tri-State Preaching Mission. Sponsored by the ministerial associations in Huntington, Point Pleasant and Logan in West Virginia, Ironton and Portsmouth in Ohio and Ashland, Kentucky, the regional event had 175 participating churches, representing 12 denominations.

The 1958 event saw two dozen nationally known ministers journey to the Tri-State to offer 150 addresses, sermons and Bible studies over the course of a week. In Huntington, mass meetings were held at the Keith-Albee Theater each evening and afternoon. The visiting ministers also spoke at the region's high schools, at civic groups such as Rotary, Kiwanis and Lions, and at local industries.

The following year saw still more growth, with 275 participating churches from 20 denominations, and an estimated total attendance of 81,000 people for the week's various sessions After a lull of several years, the Preaching Mission was staged again in 1963 and 1964, although on a less ambitious scale, with 16 visiting clergymen in 1963 and 12 in 1964.

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