Shelbyville Daily Union

March 3, 2011

First Christian Church to Celebrate 175 Years


SHELBYVILLE, IL. — First Christian Church, 202 South Broadway, will be celebrating a special event on Sunday, March 6. The church will mark its 175th anniversary this month.  The day will begin at 10:00 AM with a special combined worship service. The guest speaker will be Dr. Wayne Shaw, Retired Dean of Lincoln Christian Seminary. Following worship there will be an old-fashioned fried chicken dinner.

First Christian Church is a church with a rich history. In March, 1836, a group of about thirty Christians met in the home of Polly Smith and affixed their names to a covenant that formed First Christian Church. Here is the statement they made:

“In the good providence of God, we, being citizens of a State, Illinois, whose constitution and laws permit men to worship the only true and living God, according to the dictates of the Holy Spirit, as recorded in the Bible, and in the enjoyment of this inestimable blessing: about thirty persons, (baptized believers) met in the town of Shelbyville, Shelby County, State of Illinois in the month of March AD 1836 who then and there resolved to organize, as a worshiping Congregation of Christians, having and holding Jesus Christ, the Son, as their Sure Foundation and only Savior, and the Bible alone as their infallible rule of faith and practice, proceeded to organize the Church of God in Christ at Shelbyville, Illinois, by selecting and setting apart as elders (or bishops) of the Congregation, Bushrod W. Henry, and John S. Page.”

The group met for some time in the log courthouse which stood in the town square as well as in the homes of the members.

The little group was making a name in the state, however, for in 1850, the first state meeting was held here, and the State Missionary Society was organized. In 1855, Eureka College was founded and Bushrod Henry was named one of its first trustees.

In 1845 the first church building was erected diagonally across the street from the present structure. In 1861 a new building was begun on the same site which was not finished until 1870 due to the Civil War. Then in 1922 the cornerstone of the present church was laid, and on September 16, 1923, dedication services were held in the new church building.

Sometime in the late 1860's, Alexander Campbell preached here. He, along with his father Thomas Campbell and Barton W. Stone founded the unity movement known simply as the Christian Church.

First Christian was established on these sound principles: Jesus Christ, the Son, the sure foundation and only Savior; and the Bible alone as the infallible rule of faith and practice. It speaks well of the generations that followed that they remained true to these God inspired principles and that they continue to guide the church today.

This church can be proud of its long heritage of sharing the Gospel in Shelbyville and around the world through support of mission projects.

“God has done great things through the ministry of First Christian Church over the last 175 years,” states Pastor Kevin Ray. “We believe God has a great and glorious plan for First Christian.  We know He is writing our story, and it just gets better and better as each year passes.”

First Christian Church extends an open invitation to the community to join with them on Sunday, March 6 at 10 AM to take part in the celebration of 175 years of ministry in Shelbyville.