First Christian Church (1869-Present)

Disciples of Christ




From Goodspeed's 1889 History of Cole, Moniteau, etc Counties, Missouri:


The Christian Church of California is one of the leading religious societies of the city, they having the principal church building there.


From the Thursday, April 2, 1914 Moniteau County Herald:


The Christian Church


The California Christian Church dates back to 1850. It was during this year and long before many of the members now composing its membership were born, that Bro. Longdon, Bro. Mulkey and Dr. Robert Shankland, held a revival in the old courthouse, at which time the organization was effected. Dr. Robt. Shankland was called to preach to the new congregation. Report says that tho sadly handicapped, that band of Christian men and women lacked none of the elements which make men and women truly great, and gives them an unclouded title to the honor, respect and love of all those who should come after. They were loyal to the Great Head of the church; and with a determination born of faith and hope, and the justice of their cause, they labored on. Perhaps the promethean fire of religious patriotism, which burned upon the altar of these heroic souls, has not been extinguished by any group since their day.


For more than 20 years this congregation had no house of worship.


Some of the names peculiar to that period are as follows: The Hands, Bylers, Brooks, Shanklands, Vannoys, Griners and Masons. They met from house to house and worshipped God with singleness of heart. Brother Longdon held several meetings for the congregation in the early days.


Shortly after the war, Brother J. W. Sappington held a meeting and met with most gratifying results.


It was in May of 1869 that the following officers were elected, and ordained: Elders, Wm. Fulks and Wm. Mason; Deacons, Frederick Griner, W. R. White and Simon Holmes. This official family, with the congregation consenting, called Bro. J. M. Tennison. He was succeeded in 1870 by Bro. w. E. Nelson, who, in turn, was succeeded by Bro. Longdon, and Bro. Sappington. In 1874 Bro. J. A. Meng was called. At this time they were meeting in the old Evangelical building, and were no longer compelled to meet from house to house. In 1873, Bro. J. M. Tennison of Lebanon, Mo., then chaplain of the House of Representatives, conducted a meeting here which resulted among other things, in the erection of the house the congregation is worshipping in at present. In 1874 Bro. J. A. Meng was again called to serve the church, and continued with them about the space of one year; Brother Tennison coming again as pastor. In 1877 he was succeeded by Bro. Dorsey, who in 1879 was succeeded by Bro. Charles Laycock, who continued with the church for five years. He was succeeded in 1884 by Bro. J. H. Smart, who was followed in 1885 by Brother Longdon, who continued in the charge until 1889 being advanced in years at that time, and two years later passed to his reward. In 1890 Bro. J. M. Rudy was called and was succeeded in 1891 by Bro. Siberal, who was followed the next year by Brother Edmund Wilkes. In 1896 Brother B. F. Hill was called and remained in the work about four years. He was followed by Brother C. C. Hill and he succeeded  by Brother T. J. Thompson, who joined the procession of rapidly moving preacher men, in one year, to make room for Brother S. J. Vance, who one year later was followed by Brother H. J. Corwine, who gave place to Brother B. F. Hill in about two years more. The following brethren held meetings from time to time, J. H. Garrison, D. W. Comer, Bro. Goodwin, B. F. Hill, R. A. Omer, C. C. Hill, Claude C. Hill, and John L. Brandt, adding in meetings alone above 250 members.


Since the data was assembled, by Brother J. B. Norman, from whose pencil this extract is taken, the Fife brothers and W. T. Brooks have held revivals for this congregation resulting in many additions. While several ministers have served the congregation its pastor from time to time as follows: A. F. Roadhouse, H. J. Crockett, R. J. Pirkey, who was succeeded by the present pastor.


This congregation is a power in the community and is composed of a large percent of the most worthful and purposeful men and women in the community.


From Ford's 1936 History of Moniteau County, Missouri:

A number of members of the Christian church were living in California in 1850. In that year a meeting was held in the court house, conducted by Rev. Mulkey and Dr. Robert Shankland, which resulted in about twenty converts and the California Christian church was organized. There is little of record concerning the Church's early history. George W. Longan was pastor from a very early period, about 1854 to 1885, but not through the en­tire period. Revs. J. W. Sappington and J. M. Tennyson were also early Pastors. The earliest records available say the church organization was completed in 1869 with WiI­liam Fulks and W. M. Mason elders and Fredrick Griner, W. R. White and S. P. Holmes deacons.


The first church building was completed and dedicated in 1873; the present church was completed at a cost of $16000 in 1917. Rev. E. B. Hensley has been pastor since 1934.


From the 1980 History of Moniteau County, Missouri published by the Moniteau Co. Historical Society:

The first Christian churches, known as Christian Union, came to Missouri when Alexander Campbell asked those to unite who were opposed to human creeds and each stand on the Bible alone and permit others to act on their own.


Phillip Mulkey sowed the seed for this in Moniteau County. George Longan was baptized in the faith. Families of Inglish, Sappingtons, and Fulks were the nucleus of this belief. The church in California was organized in 1869. Wm. and Eliza Fulks provided the ground where the church now stands. Dedicated in 1874, the church of Gothic style 36 x 60 ft. was brick with an 86 ft. tower. Cost was $6,200.


Early ministers, Sappington, Tennison, Shankland and Longan were Circuit Riders.


In 1909 State Silver Jubilee met in California. Two hundred delegates came by train.


At a cost of $2,225 the parsonage was built in 1911. By 1915 it was felt a new church was needed. It was built in 1917 at a cost of $16,000. Members met at the Court House during construction. The corner stone contains small money gifts by children, and Judge Fulks; a Bible, flag and newspaper. The face of the first corner stone is back of the bulletin board.


Women of the church gave much financially with money making events. Chicken pie supper near Easter projects ~ for fifty years.


The new church, with stained glass windows were memorials of the past. Many pieces of furniture, including the organ, have been given by families as love gifts.


In 1937 the Faith Day Guild celebrated seventy years of church history by silhouettes.


Lightning struck the church in July 1954. Fire caused much damage. The interior was completely redecorated. Presbyterians shared their building for worship and children's Sunday School. Other classes were held in High School. In this year Mrs. Paegelow passed away leaving her estate to the Church. The gift was stipulated to become the Wood Place Community Library.


Space was needed for educational activities. In 1969 plans were for the new area. Sanctuary was rearranged; carpet, new pews and baptistry were added. As in the past, members being aware of financial problems absorbed the debt of about $85,000 in a short time.


The hundredth anniversary of the building of the first church was recognized. A special “1874” worship service was conducted by the “brethren.” A basket dinner followed with a review of church history


Forty ministers have served the church.


One of the lovely traditions of the church is the Chrismon tree. This with White Gifts are important part of the Christmas season.


Talented musicians have been organists, and a faithful director of music has added to worship. The Children's Choir added much to the symphony in the life of the church. Names of those who have carried on through the years is inexhaustible.


Lucile McCollester


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