First Christian Church in Russellville will be having a grand celebration of its history this Sunday as the congregation invites the community to come and worship as part of the church’s 175th anniversary.
The event has been almost a full year in the planning and will take place at 2 p.m. at the church on West 7th Street. There will be no morning worship service that day.
“We didn’t want to take anyone who wants to come away from their regular worship service,” said Vickie Kemp, one of the church members in charge of the anniversary event. “We also wanted to save our energy for the anniversary service.”
The exact date the church was organized is not clear, so church members just decided to have the service on Sunday, Nov. 6.
The worship service will feature several special guests, as well as special music. A reception with food and special presentations will follow in the church fellowship hall.
According to church historian Ed Coffman, the First Christian Church in Russellville was organized in 1841 under the leadership of Christian Church evangelists George S. Elley and John T. Johnson. Following the movement led by Alexander Campbell and Barton Stone, Elley and Johnson worked to convert congregants in the Green River area to the movement. They were able to establish the Christian Church congregation in Russellville with seven charter members. Meeting in their homes as well as public places, such as other churches, they proclaimed the ancient gospel, celebrated the Lord’s Supper and welcomed new members to the faith through confession and immersion.
The first building was erected in 1871 on the present site of the church at the corner of Cedar (now Seventh) and Winter streets. The original design of the sanctuary has been mostly maintained, but at the time, the pulpit was center of the south side with the baptistery in the southwest corner.
Around the turn of the century in 1900, conservative leaders of the church were making a bid for support from the Russellville church. David Lipscomb, V.M. Metcalfe and others were taking an interest. Not long after, the Church of Christ officially separated from the Christian Church. The Russellville church stayed with the Christian Church, however, which later became known as the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ.
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