The heritage of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Erie, Kansas, goes back to an early nineteenth century American frontier movement that we may call the Stone-Campbell movement.

Barton Stone led both the great 1802 camp meeting revival at Cane Ridge, Kentucky, and “the Christians” who emerged from that revival. Shortly later, Alexander Campbell and his father Thomas Campbell, first in Washington, Pennsylvania, and then in Bethany, West Virginia, founded a group aiming to restore New Testament simplicity to the church, a group that became known as “the Disciples of Christ.”

Based on Acts 2:36-39, Disciples of Christ evangelist Walter Scott, in the 1820’s Ohio, developed a classic expression of how to enter Christian life that is called the Five-Finger Exercise:

Faith – Repentance – Baptism – Forgiveness of Sins – The Gift of the Holy Spirit

Stone’s Christians and Campbell’s Disciples crossed paths and grew rapidly through Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The two groups differed in style and on some points of theology, but they shared a commitment to restoring the church to New Testament simplicity, and on that basis they united during a series of meetings in Georgetown and Lexington, Kentucky, 1831-32.

Both groups were Bible-based. Barton Stone wrote, “I pay deference to the judgment of the great and [good leaders] who have lived before us, or [who are] contemporary with us. But great and good [leaders] have differed. Therefore from the Bible I wish to draw my sentiments, and by the Bible to have them judged.” Alexander Campbell wrote, “We take the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible, as the foundation of all Christian union and communion.” Both groups focused on the clearly revealed essentials, while leaving room for differences of opinion on matters that are not clearly revealed.

Both groups were Christ-centered. The defining essential for membership in their churches was faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Lord and Savior of the world. Baptism of believers into Christ was required, and baptism was understood to point toward subsequent ongoing transformation into the likeness of Christ.

Both groups were Spirit-led. Although the experience-oriented Christians and the reason-oriented Disciples recognized the work of the Holy Spirit in different ways, both understood the work of the Holy Spirit as vital to new life in Christ.

Both groups were mission-oriented. They believed that the church was called by God to spread the gospel of salvation and transformation in Jesus Christ, and they sought to remove anything from their practices that stood in the way of their calling.

First Christian Church (DOC) of Erie, Kansas was founded in 1869, less than 35 years after the Stone and Campbell movements joined. In the early summer of 1869, nine ladies who had been members of the Church of Christ before coming to Kansas, called at the house of Dr. C. F. Stauber, to talk over the matter of having Christian or Disciple Church services in Erie, and asked him to make some kind of arrangement to that end and that he would preach the Word. As a result of this consultation, it was decided to hold services in his house, no other place being available; and announcement to that effect was made. This was the original place of worship. By 1870 or 71, the little band being strengthened by more people moving into the place, decided to build a Church house.

There was very little ready cash available to be used in building, but by getting donations of some logs, lumber, and other material, and donations in work, a comfortable, commodious – though very plain – house (the first Church house in Erie) was built on the corner of 3rd and Butler.

Sometime late in 1920 under the capable leadership of Rev. & Mrs. C. O. Wilson, the pastor who came to Erie in 1919. The membership decided they had outgrown their old frame building that had been their Church home for many years, and on January 11, 1921 started the planning for the new church. On January 29, 1922, the new building was dedicated by George L. Snively. The building is still standing on the corner of First and Grant and is the home of the 1st Baptist Church. The church now stands on Hwy 59 where it was dedicated on March 25th 1979.

True to the Stone-Campbell heritage, the congregation is marked by the practice of believer’s baptism by immersion (note: people baptized in other Christian traditions are received into membership without requiring their rebaptism), weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper, and a strong tradition of lay leadership in the church.

Many lives have been touched by the Erie First Christian Church since its founding in 1869.

Ministers of Erie First Christian Church

C. F. Stauber 1869

M. J. Jenkins 1870-71 & 1875

Various Ministers 1873-83

There was no minister from 1876-1884

Wm. Bobbitt 1884-85

R. A. Thompson 1886

A. B. Markle 1887-88

Various Ministers 1889-91

H. E. Ballou 1892

C. J. Saunders 1893-98

W. H. Scrivner 1899-1900

C. O. McFarland 1901

J. D. Forsythe 1902 – 03

A. E. Wrentmore 1904

Clyde Sharp 1905

Various supply Ministers 1906

J. A. Dearthridge 1907

W. T. Selby 1908 – 09

N. Ferd Engle 1910 – 12

Rev. Millard 1911?

W. T. Smith 1913

J. D. Bowles 1914 – 16

G. W. Leonard 1917

E. L. Fuller 1918

Charles O. Wilson 1919 – 22

Guy L. Eslick 1923

C. M. McMillen 1924 – 26

C. M. Thomas 1927 – 29

Arthur P. Craven 1930

No Minister 1931 – 32

Charles H. Nininger 1933

No Minister 1934

R. C. Harding 1935 – 37

Lowell Renberger 1938 – 40

Everett G. Haley 1941 – 42

Chester A. Balf 1943 – 46

John Henry Cain 1947 – 49

Howard Stevens 1950 – 51

Oscar A. Jonesen 1952

A. W. Swanson 1953 – 58

Glenn Crosby 1959-60-66

Richard Markland 1967 – 70

Norman D. Rogers 1971 – 72

Fred Jordan 1973 – 91

Alvin Daetwiler (Interim minister)

Jere’ L. Wells 1992 – 2002

Debra Lorenz 2003 – 2008

James Bell (Interim minister)

Paul Elliott 2008 – 2016

Joe Hyde (Interim minister)

Michael Haggard 2016 – Present

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