BRAZIL — First Christian Church of Brazil will celebrate its 150th anniversary April 18 through April 20.
According to records found at the Clay County Historical Society, in 1858 an unknown number of believers settled in this very community before it was even established as Brazil. The group met for Bible study, prayer and fellowship. Their meetings were sporadic because of weather and work conditions. The first meeting of the First Christian Church was in October 1867 in a building formerly used by the New School Presbyterians, on the northwest corner of Jackson and Walnut Streets in Brazil. The church services were conducted by part-time preachers. Because of lack of continued meeting places, the church was disbanded in 1875.
In 1877, after the county seat was moved to Brazil from Bowling Green, the church was started again with 11 charter members: Mr. and Mrs. John L. Webster; Mrs. Arabelle Webster Kidd; Mrs. Benjamin F. Shattuck; Miss Anna Shattuck; Mr. Mattie Shattuck Robison; Mr. and Mrs. Henry Cutshall; Mr. and Mrs. R.L. Keith; and Mrs. Stukley Campbell.
The site for the congregation of the First Christian Church was at Washington and McDonald streets in a frame church building also used as a community center.
In 1880, the congregation was able to build a frame structure just south of its church at a cost of $8,000 and by 1900 it had outgrown this church and erected a fine brick church on the site of the old congregational building.
For five years. the membership enjoyed this lovely new church building, until Feb. 4,1905, when a fire consumed the building. Newspaper accounts led to the famous story of the “Bible that would not burn.” It seems during the fire the Bible on the pulpit fell through the floor into the basement. Debris fell on top, and after the fire was extinguished the Bible was found completely unharmed.
While the building was still burning, a group of women from the church met to make plans for a new church. Rebuilding started immediately. On Feb. 6, 1905, the new church was dedicated. It was an impressive building with stained-glass windows, a large pipe organ, a bell in the steeple to call the congregation to worship, and two toilets – one for the ladies and one for the gentlemen. Indoor bathrooms were impressive in 1906. The bell can still be seen today mounted just outside the foyer of the new building.
First Christian Church remained at this Washington Street site until July 1966. On July 31, 1966, the First Christian Church family moved to its present location on U.S. 40 and dedicated the newly completed contemporary structure.
In 1983, another dream was fulfilled by the members of the church. They had dreamed of a multipurpose building where they could seat 1,000 people, have a gym area for youth activities, and obtain additional classrooms for Christian education. On Dec. 11, 1983, the Family Life Centre was formally dedicated. Cornerstone Christian Academy, the Christian school, began its first sessions on Aug. 29, 1985. The school has enjoyed significant growth over the years. In 1993, the church family participated in an addition of 2,600 square feet of classroom space to Cornerstone Christian Academy.
Because of structural concerns at the existing building, construction began in November 1996 on a new 30,308-square-foot structure comprising adult and children education wings and a central worship center. The congregation occupied the building for the first time on Feb. 8, 1998.
The weekend activities will include programs at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Former senior pastors Glen Liston and Greg Comp will bring messages. On Friday, Liston will present a message titled “Learn From the Past.” On Saturday, Comp will present a message titled “Live in the Present.” The weekend will wrap up with a Sunday morning message by current senior pastor Bob Witte, titled “The best is yet to come.” That message will be delivered at 10:30 a.m. Sunday.
The public is cordially invited to join the First Christian Church in celebrating.