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First Christian Church, Coldwater, Kansas

First Christian Church, Coldwater, Kansas.
The image at left is from an undated color postcard and shows the original church steeple.
The image at right of the original building is from the Diamond Jubilee historical booklet.

Comanche County History, Vol. 1, pp. 168-170.

Coldwater Christian Church

The Coldwater Christian Church has been blessed with a rich and beautiful history beginning in 1904, when Mr. E.A. Newby, an evangelist from Wichita, held a revival meeting in Coldwater. He returned in 1909 and conducted services on April 9th and 10th in the Presbyterian Church. Then on Sunday, April 11th, meetings were held in the courthouse. It was here that the church was organized. Fourteen persons responded, making public Christian confessions of faith at these meetings.

The congregation called Mr. Newby to supply the pulpit in connection with the Wilmore Christian Church. He was at Wilmore the first Saturday and Sunday of the month, and at Coldwater the remainder of the time. The Sunday School was organized April 18, 1909, and the following officers were selected:

Superintendent: J.M. Cotton

Assistant Superintendent: George Beeley

Secretary: Romola Ham

Treasurer: Henry Metzker

Organist: Winnie Martin

Librarians: Earl Sever, Ada Harbaugh.

Teachers: Mrs. J.E. Haun, Myrtle Harbaugh, Mrs. J.M. Cotton, LeRoy Beeley, E.A. Newby.

Cradle Roll Superintendent . . . . . . Mrs. H.N. Marshall

When the Harbaugh Opera House was finished, the congregation moved from the courthouse and held meetings in the opera house. The first meeting there was June 20, 1909. This day the Sunday School observed its first Children's Day, with an excellent program and an offering of $16.70 for foreign missions.

In July Mr. Newby, with the assistance of Prof. Henry A. Lyon, began a three week meeting in the opera house. The meeting was well attended in spite of the hot weather and the harvest season. Thirty-nine were added to the church. Those who were united with the newly formed congregation were:

Mrs. Henry Baldwin
Mr. and Mrs. T.C. Bibb
Mrs. William Blair
Mr. and Mrs. C.M. Cole
Mrs. Nellie Dunn
Bert Fender
Mr. and Mrs. H.C. Frazier
Fred Harbaugh
Mrs. Anna Huffmaster
Mr. and Mrs. A.J. Hulsey, Ada and Eula
Leroy Gates
Miss Jackson
Mr. and Mrs. W.G. Jarnagin
D.T. McIntyre
Frank Martin
Alin Metzker
Jesse Monroe
Miss Katie New
Emma Ratliff
John Sever
Frona Seyfrit
Lewis Seyfrit
Valentine Seyfrit
John Shea
Mrs. J.W. Smith
Mrs. Lulu Snowden
Miss Lena Uhl
Mrs. Della Williams
Miss Octavia Williams
Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Wolfe

Although the congregation had a beautiful place for worship, plans were made for building in the near future.

D.L. Roberts of Buffalo, Missouri, took charge of the ministry on August 15, 1909, and continued until August 1910. Wednesday, November 17, 1909, the church board and the Ladies Aid Society met in the afternoon and planned to erect a $4,000.00 building as soon as plans could be obtained and decided upon. $2,000.00 was subscribed that afternoon.

The week of December 12th, the church purchased from Parker Wright, the lots where the building now stands. On January 15, 1910, the excavation for the basement started. The work progressed as the weather permitted.

In the February 4th issue of The Talisman the following notice appeared:

"What is it? Well, everybody is invited to come next Tuesday, February 8th and put in the day, or part of it at least, in hauling sand for the new church in Coldwater. One hundred loads are needed and if enough people come with teams and wagons they can haul it in one day. Think it over and see if you don't feel that it would be using a very little of your time for a good cause. The Ladies Aid Society will serve a free dinner. Don't forget the time. Someone bring an extra team for the preacher and J.M. Cotton.
Signed - Ladies Aid."

George E. Lyon of Topeka, State Secretary of the Kansas Christian Missionary Society, assisted in the dedication, July 17, 1910. Services were held Saturday night, Sunday morning, and Sunday night. A large choir from the three churches prepared special music for the occasion, and the other churches joined in a union worship. At this dedication service $4,000.00 were pledged, which was $300.00 more than the necessary $3,700.00. The cost of the building and lots was $6,000.00, which did not include the price of a bell and the furnace to be added later, making the total cost around $6,500.00. The debt was cleared and there remained $300.00 to be applied on the furnace.

W.E. Babb was pastor from early 1912 to the fall of 1914. During Mr. Babb's pastorate the parsonage was built, but he never got to occupy it.

Some of the "oldsters" will remember the thrill of burning the mortgage on the church building during this ministry, and the deep tones of the newly acquired bell so graciously given by Charlie Cole who loved to sing, "In the Sweet By and By".

The east room was added to the parsonage during the ministry of J.T. Wheeler, November 1918 to November 1921. A gift of $1,000.00 from the estate of Frank King made this possible. For a period the church was without a minister, but the doors of the church were never closed and the Sunday School was kept up and the communion service was always observed. Missionary meetings were held regularly and were well attended.

During the depression of the thirties, because ministers' salaries were very low, the congregation gave "pound" parties for the preacher. Gifts of canned goods, garden and farm products were given. One year green beans had been plentiful in all gardens, so the minister and his wife cheerfully ate green beans all winter even though neither one liked them.

Youth have always been an important aspect of this congregation. Since there is no record however, we do not know the exact date of the organization of Christian Endeavor (CE). Older members say that CE was started soon after the church was built in 1910. Members at that time were Ramola Ham, Faye Ham, Ferne Lease, Fonda Hormbuk, Vera Griffith (Malone), Ada Harbaugh, Maude Guizlo, George Burch, Frank Burch, Ed Habaugh, Pearl Settle, Clyde Cotton, Hueston Cline, and Mabel Yonker (Eaton). Mabel Eaton became a member in March 1910, and has the distinction of longest membership of any resident member, at the time of this writing, August 1980.

There were no picture shows, radio, or television so the thing to do on Sunday evenings was to go to CE and church. That is where the boys took their dates. There was always a good attendance.

As far as we know there has been an active CE down through the years and during the thirties the attendance was around 75 members. Some familiar names were: Bibb, Cline, Cary, Wilson, Griffith, Replogle, Pounds, Foree, Smith and many more. At that time there was no appointed sponsors, the young people elected their officers and carried on their own meetings, usually with a few adults sitting in.

The sponsors idea came into being perhaps in the last thirty or thirty-five years. Some of the sponsors have been M/M Clarence Demuth, M/M Kenneth Cline, M/M Ivor Pounds, M/M Raymond Cline, M/M J.R. Cline, M/M Kenneth Sizemore, Mrs. Hayes, M/M Ralph Einsel, M/M Ralph Griffith, M/M Renous Allen, M/M Vernie White, M/M Gene Uhl, M/M Winston Williams, M/M Don Frazier, M/M Harley Rush and M/M Dennis Russell, who are now sponsoring the CYF.

It was during George Brown's ministry, CE was re-organized as Christian Youth Fellowship (CYF). The CYF has always taken part in youth rallies and summer camps. One summer during A.R. Brown's ministry the CE earned enough money to finance one half the cost of 17 youths to go to camp. The Sunday School paid the other half. Now through the Grace Mathias' Memorial Camp Fund, given by her children, the way to camp is paid for all children who wish to attend.

The CYF have enjoyed going on skating parties, picnics, hayrack rides, trips to Alabaster Caverns, Old Mexico, Explo '72 in Dallas and many others over the years. Now, with the Coldwater Lake, they are enjoying picnics there coupled with boat riding and skiing.

In the 1950's a building fund was established, and on April 24, 1966, an annex was dedicated debt free. It included a fellowship hall, kitchen and eight classrooms. Under the leadership of Roy Burkhall, building chairman and Myrl Haun, board chairman, many members worked hard to make it a beautiful and efficient building. The cost was $24,000.00.

In April, 1967, work began on tearing down the old church building to make way for a new Sanctuary, to be attached to the annex building. Ground breaking ceremonies were held, May 28, 1967.

During construction, all worship services were held in the fellowship hall. The building comittee consisted of Jerry Allen, chairman; Renous Allen, Rick Rathbun, Charlie Sanders, Porter Smith, Joe Spence, Loyd Ward, Myrl Haun, chairman of board; Bernard Plumb, minister; and Leola Wilkerson Sanders, secretary-treasurer.

The new building was completed and dedicated May 19, 1968. W.S. Lown, president of Manhattan Christian College gave the dedicatory address. A mortgage of $45,000.00 was made on the project which had a total cost of $73,737.22. Two things were especially saved from the old building and used in the new, the bell and the beautiful stained glass window, picturing Christ in Gethsemane. This window has come to be a focal point for both local residents and travelers.

Just eight and one half years passed before this new sanctuary was completely debt free. The last $2,000.00 payment was a gift left from the estate of Leslie Smith. A mortgage burning ceremony was held on November 23, 1975. Many former members came back for this celebration. Former SS superintendent, Alvin Elliott, was the speaker. One of the oldest members, Maud Ellis and youngest, Joey Dunn, lighted the mortgage burning flame.

In celebration of this occasion the congregation voted to purchase a tape carillion bell system, which plays Westminister chimes on the hours and hymns at pre-set intervals. This system was installed in time for Christmas 1975, and has been a source of enjoyment for the entire community since.

For many years it has been discussed and the idea lay in the minds of the congregation to build a new parsonage, once the church building was paid for. A congregational vote on December 17, 1978, set the stage for the beginning of a new parsonage, which was completed at 310 E. Cottonwood, November 15, 1979. Total cost of the house and lots was $66,690.55. A mortgage of $42,000.00 was made. Members of the parsonage building committee were: Loyd Ward, chairman, Luane Huck, Velma Uhl, Jerry Allen, Jack Allen, Raymond Cline, Joe Spence, Vernie White, Elven Zongker, Gene Uhl, chairman of board and Clydean McMillen, treasurer.

Several persons who have had connection with this congregation have gone into full time Christian ministries. Harland Cary became a minister and missionary, establishing Collegio Biblico, a school for Mexican ministers in Eagle Pass, Texas. Alva Jay Swarner has ministered in Assembly of God churches. C.J. Smith is a Methodist minister in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Vernon Wheeler, son of J.T. Wheeler, an early minister here, has also become a minister. And Virgil White is attending Bible College and ministering to a small congregation near Columbus, Kansas.

Since the founding of the chruch there have been 30 ministers and their families who have shared in the life of this community. They are:

E.A. Newby.....     1909
L.L. Roberts.....1909
E.W. Schenk.....1910
W. Everett Babb.....1912
J.H. Brister.....1914
S.E. Hendrickson.....1916
Joe R. Babb.....1917
J.T. Wheeler.....1918
E.H. Murry.....1924
John Thompson.....1926
M.F. Lyerla.....1927
E.T. Schifferdecker.....1929
A.R. Brown.....1932
Thomas M. Palmer.....1935
Olin F. Boyd.....1938
Dwight E. Lewis.....1941
Lloyd Sparks.....1943
Heber H. Pitman.....1946
George F. Brown.....1947
Nelson King.....1950
Carmie W. Roll.....1951
Robert A. Zwink.....1956
Ed E. Bridwell.....1958
Claude Wright.....1958
Everett D. Thompson     .....1961
Don Larick.....1962
George F. Baugh.....1963
Jerry Keck.....1967
Bernard E. Plumb.....1967
Gib Clark.....1974

It would be interesting if we could list all the members both past and present, but of course, space will not allow it. Our records show that 954 persons have been members of the congregation since its inception. Present resident membership is 230 with an average attendance of 125. This congregation has a warm spiritual quality, and is a very active and caring group of people. Gib Clark, the present minister is in his seventh year, which incidentally is the longest ministry in the history of the church. He and his wife, Marcia and two sons, Todd and Kipp moved here on June 12, 1974.

Another interesting bit of information: it would seem that the congregation in a sense has come full circle. For, on October 22, 1978, Jerry and Edna Newby came to live with their daughter and son-in-law, Mary and Bob Pierce. Mr. Newby is a nephew of Mr. E.A. Newby, the first minister of this congregation back in 1909. Mrs. Newby was born in Coldwater and is the daughter of William Cash, who along with his brother started the newspaper, The Western Star, which was later sold to H.V. Butcher. The Cash family has owned the property known as Cash Grove down through the years, where the Pierces live, and where now the Newbys have come back to reside.

The committee writing this history, wishes to acknowledge that much of the history is the work of Vivian Replogle, who was the church clerk for so many years. Vivian had made a very complete history up through 1959, so her work certainly made our gathering of information much easier.

In looking to the future this congregation hopes to be of help and service to this fine community and to God and those values which are eternal.

Mary Einsel
Theo Cary
Bessie Beeley
Lena Haun
Gib Clark

(Pictures included with Comanche County History article: original structure, first parsonage, ground breaking for new church, present house of worship, ground breaking for new annex, sanctuary of present church and present parsonage.)

The Christian Church, Coldwater, Comanche County, Kansas. Photo from the Diamond Jubilee Historical Souvenir Program. Coldwater, KS: Western Star, 1959.


In April, 1909, E.A. Newby of Wichita held a series of meetings in Coldwater, the outcome of which is the Christian Church. The Church School was organized April 18, 1909. Until the Harbaugh Opera House was finished the congregation met in the court house beginning June 20.

Anxious for a permanent home, the new congregation was soon making plans for a building and at a joint meeting November 17, 1909, the church's board and the Ladies Aid Society laid plans for a $4,000 unit. In April, 1910, the carpenters commenced work and as the building progressed amazingly fast, the dedication date was set for July 17. The parsonage was erected in 1914 and later the east room was added. In the early 1950's further improvements were made.

In April 1959, the congregation celebrated its Golden Anniversary. Twenty-two ministers have served the church in its 50 years of service to the community. In the planning stage, at present, is an educational building program to accomodate the growing congregation.

Enter To Worship ------ Depart To Serve

Photo and history from the Diamond Jubilee historical booklet, 1959.

Christian Church, Coldwater, Kansas.

Image from a postcard, undated.

Photo courtesy of Rhonda (Cline) Nickel
Postcard: Christian Church, Coldwater, Kansas.
Photo courtesy of Rhonda (Cline) Nickel.

Christian Church, Coldwater, Kansas.

Photo courtesy of Rhonda (Cline) Nickel
Christian Church, Coldwater, Kansas
Photo courtesy of Rhonda (Cline) Nickel.

Thanks to Rhonda Cline Nickel for contributing the above photos credited to her to this web site and for transcribing and sending the article from Comanche County History!

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