Material supplied by Edith Haynes
Soldiers leave building in a pitiable condition
The First Christian Church in Henderson was organized in 1841 by two members, Mr. and Mrs. Phillip VAN BUSSUM, who were soon joined by Mr. and Mrs. William STEELE.
Their first meetings were held in a one story frame building at the site of the present First Baptist Church (colored) at Washington and Elm. This was a Methodist Church, and the congregation was not allowed to use it for long.
Then the group used a building on north Green, (later used as a City Hospital), for worship at weekly prayer meetings. A few meetings were held at D. R. BURBANK'S stemmery at the corner of Main and Third Streets.
The lot on the northeast corner of Green and Washington was deeded to the trustees in 1853 by James ALVES and wife. A 35 by 55 building was constructed which still forms a part of the present church. Money ran out and many of the congregation had to sit on seats made of a single board, or on hard benches, until a much later date.
In 1858 it seemed that war would surely come and by 1861 the group was hopelessly disorganized. The church was occupied by federal authorities for the quartering of troops during the war between the states. Windows, doors, seats and pulpit were burned and plaster was knocked from the walls. Spikes were driven into the walls on which to hang meat for the troops.
In 1865 Elder George PLATTENBERG held a congregational meeting in a building on Main near the present KRAVER theatre. The large audience caused them to move the meeting to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church on Fourth. The group reorganized the church with PLATTENBERG as their minister.
Gradually the group restored the church and after five years were worshipping in their own building. Then followed the ministries of R. C. FLOWER, J. P. HADLEY, A. H. CARTER, R. C. CAVE, J. C. CREAL. CREAL increased the membership to 173 and under his leadership the building was enlarged and remodeled. He was succeeded by B. C. DEWEESE.
1887 came the Rev. Mr. William B. TAYLOR, and in 1889, at his departure, the Rev. Mr. James VERNON came. During his ministry excavations were made for the church basement, which was developed into rooms for Sunday school and prayer services.
Rev. E. J. WILLIS was the next pastor, who added another 165 to the congregation. He was succeeded by Phillip F. KING, R. H. ROBERTSON and W. A. WARD.
James VERNON returned in 1907 and stayed another eight years. He was followed by Kyle BROOKS, J. L. ALDERSON and W. P. WALDEN. In 1921 E. J. WILLIS began his second ministry. He was followed six years later by Minor W. BOTTOM. Under his leadership the entire front of the church was torn down and an educational building was erected, resulting in the present structure. The church was dedicated in January 1930, with Burton L. HOFFMAN giving the dedication sermon. The church school was organized on a graded basis.
The Rev. Mr. E. C. LACY ministered to the church from 1931 to 1938. He was succeeded by the Rev. Mr. C. C. ENGLAND. The centennial celebration of the church was held during his ministry, on October 12 - 26, 1941. At this period the state convention of Christian churches was entertained.
Following Rev. ENGLAND, Grady SPEIGEL and C. E. GRACE served as pastors.
In 1948 the Rev. Mr. Charles E. DIETZE began a four-year ministry. The sanctuary was remodeled, a new organ installed, stained glass windows were put in. The Christian Men's fellowship was organized which includes men from four other Christian churches in Henderson County.
In 1951 a Christian Women's fellowship was organized. Two young people's groups, the Christian Youth fellowship and the Chi Rho fellowship, became active.
Rev. DIETZE as president of the Henderson Ministerial association led a drive on vice locally and was instrumental in forming the Good Government league. One of his sermons on human brotherhood won a national award and he was one of three young men honored in 1951 by the Jaycees.
Rev. DIETZE was succeeded by the Rev. Mr. Arthur DIGBY, Jr. While he was here the congregation bought a lot and erected a parsonage on North Main. In the church history two parsonages have been owned on Second Street and one at 11 Riverdale Court.
The present minister, the Rev. Mr. William B. APPERSON, succeeded Rev. DIGBY. The church program has outgrown the building at Washington and Green. In the spring of 1956 a lot was purchased at Green and Chestnut streets. Plans are underway to erect a contemporary styled church soon.
During its 199 years of history, four men have gone out to become ministers. They are the Reverend Messrs: DECKER, J. Barbee ROBERTSON, Peyton CANARY and Elva B. SHIVELY.
Reprinted with permission.
Contributed by Netta Mullin, HCH&GS
Copyright 2002 HCH&GS