With four or five families gathering for worship in 1843, the Church of Christ (Christian Church) of Albia, Iowa had it's beginnings. Within this group was a gentleman by the name of Willis Arnold whose love for the Word of God prompted him to donate a building lot for the purpose of constructing a church. While no written documentation remains, tradition holds that this church was constructed somewhere close to the railroad underpass on North 8th Street. This construction was done entirely by the members.
In 1847, the same year a post office was established in Albia and a new 20 -foot square log courthouse was built, only four years after home-seekers were permitted to settle in Monroe County, this small congregation enlisted the services of its first tenured minister, Rev. Aaron Chatterton. Isaac Watson and John Mock, two of the pioneers of Monroe County, drove to Marion County to enlist the services of Rev. Chatterton. During his ministry he preached his sermons in the old school house, said to be at the location of the present Lincoln Center school, and in the little 20-foot square log courthouse built that same year. He occasionally held services at the home of "Old Jimmie" Robinson four miles south of Albia. This home, it is believed, was located near the back door of the present home of the late Darrell Stocker.
Under the leadership of Rev. Chatterton, who had the distinction of conducting the first revival meeting within this county, a church was soon organized. Among the charter members were John Mock, Mrs. Margaret Mock, Mrs. Zerelda Watson, Mrs. Margaret Hollingshead, "Old Jimmie" Robinson, Miss Angeline Robinson, Miss Cornelia Robinson, Miss Zerelda Robinson, Miss Martha Robinson, and Miss Helen Robinson. On September 5, 1874, articles of incorporation for the church were filed. They were to replace earlier ones that were lost.
In 1874, our county records show that the Christian Church purchased, in the form of a swap, from the Baptist Church of Albia, the lot where the current First Christian Church Memorial Hall sits. The Baptist Church took the lot on the corner of 2nd Avenue East and South 2nd. Records indicate the values of the lots were $1,000.00 and $1,165.00 respectively. Since there were was a church building on each lot, the Christian Church, upon purchase of the new location commenced an extensive remodeling project of their newly acquired church home, a wooden frame building.
During the ministry of Brother Waldron, in 1868, a disagreement arose within the church. The question was, "should there or should there not be musical instruments allowed within the church?" After considerable debate among the group, it was agreed to have an organ assist with the singing.
In 1893, when Brother W.J. Hastie began his ministry with the church, the congregation numbered nearly 500 members. During this time, the member seemed to drink deeper than ever before of the spirit of service, had a greater interest in missions and many were added to the membership.
After four years of service Brother Hastie seemed to think that someone else might accomplish more and so on July 25, 1897 he resigned. The congregation voted unanimously to ask him to remain at the church but could not prevail upon him to do so. Before securing a successor, the church was repaired, repainted, papered, and for the first time electric lights were installed.
In 1899, under the leadership of Brother R.H. Ingram, action was taken towards the construction of a new and larger edifice to house this grouwing Christian Church of Albia. On March 7, 1900, the site where our church now stands was purchased from Fred Galliers for the sum of $1,400.00. The last meeting was held in the old church on August 12, 1900 at which time the members agreed to sell the church to the Hocking M.E. Church. That group began dismantling the building on August 14th, two days later. At this point the Christian group was forced to relocate their services temporarily to the the Court House, the Presbyterian Church and various homes. It was August 24th, just 12 days from the time of their last meeting in the old church, till the excavation was started for the new, current, church structure. The cost of the new structure was $14,000.00 plus the time and sacrifices of many members.
At the annual meeting held on January 1st, 1906, the church clerk reported a total membership of 502 and the treasurer reported collections for the year in the regular fund of $1,299.63. Sunday morning, July 7th, 1907, was the first time that a printed bulletin was used for the worship service.
It's interesting to note that Sunday School attendance was a high priority in the early 1900's. Attendance soared to over 200 and the flock was frequently admonished to be in class on time, increase their offering and follow other "rules" of the institution. In 1910, it was decided that the Sunday School teachers would start using a grading system, similar to the public school system.
As the congregation continued to thrive and grow, additional remodeling and construction took place. In 1948 the church basement was remodeled into a "Service Center". An extensive remodeling project of the sanctuary and Sunday School classrooms was completed in 1957. This was the culmination of a $28,000 program designed to meet modern day needs. In 1978 the current church office complex was completed. A gift of $230,700.00 form the Robert "Red" Stevenson estate in 1983 allowed the church to complete its current structure. The building project included a large fellowship hall, kitchen, friendship room, sewing room, and courtyard.
Gallery of History
Click the image below to review the history of our church through pictures.