Here we will tell the story of the beginnings of our church and how we became what we are today.
Elbert Christian Church has spread the gospel and shared Christ’s love in the town of Elbert and surrounding communities for over ninety years. Starting with two country churches that joined together to form one church, the people of Elbert Christian Church have persevered through good times and bad times to walk in faith and serve their Lord.
In August of 1916, members of the James Church and the Stone Church organized a tent meeting in the town of Elbert with the intention of reorganizing the two churches as one Church of Christ. The James Church (Elbert Christian Church) was located on the Cantril Ranch southwest of Elbert on County Road 86 and the Stone Church (United Brethren Church) was located northwest of Elbert on the corner of County Roads 13 and 106. (In 1915, the congregation of the Stone Church had divided over the doctrine of baptism after a revival. Part of the congregation went to the Elbert Presbyterian Church and the rest remained at the Stone Church.)
Evangelist George A. Day preached at the two-week revival in a tent set up across from the school (which washed away in the 1935 flood) and behind the creamery or, using today’s landmarks, at the football field located on County Road 98.
A business meeting was held August 14, 1916 to create the new Elbert Church of Christ and to elect elders, deacons and church officers. Twenty-nine people were baptized and became members that day. An additional nine people joined by statement, giving the new church a total of 38 members on its first day of existence. By the end of 1916, the church had 64 members.
The church bought two lots from Mrs. Mowery for $175.00 on August 25, 1916. The lots were near Kiowa Creek straight east and a little north of the church’s present location. In 1917, a steam engine pulled the James church building (built in 1905) into Elbert where it was placed on a basement. A steeple and an entry way were also added. On June 27 – July 1, 1917 the Elbert celebrated the dedication of the Elbert Church of Christ.
A flu epidemic hit the town in the fall of 1918. Church services were cancelled from October 4, 1918 to April 13, 1919. The church continued with normal activities from 1919 to 1935, hiring preachers as they could afford them and letting them go when the church couldn’t pay. At least 7 preachers served during these 16 years.
On Memorial Day, May 31, 1935 a flood washed away much of Elbert and abruptly changed not only the town, but also the Church of Christ. Two members of the church, Mary Gresham Goff and her daughter, Grace Goff, lost their lives when they refused to heed the warnings to leave and stayed in the restaurant they operated in the Odd Fellows Hall. The church building remained on its foundation, but the basement filled with water and six inches of mud and water stood in the sanctuary.
The church board decided to move the church building again. Sharold Adams, his sons, Everett and Merle, and David Pottenger moved the building using two horses and a capstan (a horse-powered winch). Placing railroad ties in the basement to stabilize the jacks, the men jacked up the building, then used rollers to move the church from its foundation to its present location. This project was completed in 6 days, quite a feat considering the unstable and sandy ground the men worked in.
Over the years many improvements and additions were made to the church building including the office and kitchen on the east side and the cry room and restrooms on the west side.
The church was affiliated with the Disciples of Christ denomination. However, during the 1950’s and 1960’s, the people began to question the authority the Disciples of Christ had over the congregation. Finally, in the late 1960’s the board made an official decree to separate from the Disciples of Christ and became Elbert Christian Church, a non-denominational, independent church.
Elbert Christian Church began to outgrow the church building in the 1990’s. An early service was added in 1996 to temporarily relieve overcrowding. The church board also began looking into the possibility of building a new church or adding on to the present building. In January of 2000, construction began on a 48’ x 48’ addition to the north side of the church. The entire building was renovated including the kitchen.
Forty ministers have served at Elbert Christian Church along with many fill-in ministers. Membership records indicate nearly 900 people have joined the church since 1916.
With each challenge we have encountered, we became stronger in our faith. We may provide links to other sites that provide more detail on our church history or particular events in our past.