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Antioch Church, Avilla Township, Comanche County, Kansas

'A modern country church - Antioch - located 11 miles south of Coldwater, Comanche County, Kansas.' Photo published in 1924. From Ollie Hackney's Clipping Collection, courtesy of her grand-daughter, Bobbi Huck.
"A modern country church - Antioch - located 11 miles south of Coldwater, Comanche County, Kansas."
1924 photo from Ollie Hackney's Clipping Collection, courtesy of her grand-daughter, Bobbi Huck.

The Western Star, May 11, 1917. H.V. Butcher, Editor.


Every community has certain days in the history of its development which may be designated as "Red Letter Days"--days which mark important events in its history, when things happen which have a special significance and a far-reaching influence upon the life of the community for years to come. Such a day was last Sunday, May 6, for Avilla-tp., this county, when the new Methodist Episcopal church, to be known as "Antioch", and located 11 miles south of this city, was dedicated.

The weather conditions for the day were quite favorable and the attendance was far beyond the expectations of the most sanguine, not far from 500 people being present. It seemed that "everybody and his folks" were there. They came not only from Avilla-tp., but from all parts of the county, and some were present from outside of the county. By actual count, 87 automobiles, besides a few buggies, were on the grounds. It was unquestionably the greatest gathering of people ever seen in that part of the county.

The day's program started with an interesting session of Sunday School, at 9:30am. Henry Knecht is superintendent, and he is proving to be a "live-wire" in Sunday School work. The attendance and the interest in the Sunday School is quite good, and continues to grow. Immediately following the Sunday School, the morning preaching services were begun. The pastor, Rev. O.C. Kintner, was in charge. District Superintendent L.E. Simes preached a powerful sermon, and then began the exercises preliminary to the church dedication--the clearing of the building from debt. It was announced that the total cost of the completed building was $4485.76, including about $1000 in donated labor. About $1800 was needed to pay all outstanding obligations, and that amount was asked for. In just 23 minutes $2505 was raised. It was a remarkable case of prompt and liberal giving. Seldom, if ever, has its equal been seen in Comanche-co. With the extra $700 a piano will be purchased, cement walks built, the basement plastered and other improvements made. Then came the dinner, which was served in the large basement of the church. And to adequately describe that dinner would require the services of an expert writer. We only know that it was mighty fine, and, too, there was "more than plenty". It was a real Community dinner and the genuine Community spirit which was displayed was beautiful and commendable. In the building and dedication of their fine new church the Avilla people have set a good example for other communities of what can be accomplished by hearty and liberal co-operation. In the worthy undertaking which was begun on January 2, when a few Avilla citizens met and talked over plans for a new church and which culminated on last Sunday in a beautiful and commodious new church edifice, all Comanche-co says "well done".

The afternoon services were begun at 3 o'clock. Rev. Kintner had charge. Rev. Ralph W. Wyrick, pastor of the Coldwater M.E. Church, made a brief but very practical and helpful talk. District Supertendent Simes then proceeded with the formal dedication exercises, after which the benediction was pronounced by Rev. L.O. Blake of Terra Haute, Ind.

Notes of the Dedication:

Rev. L.O. Blake, a U.B. pastor of Terra Haute, Ind., preached a very able sermon Sunday evening, when the church was again crowded. He is a brother of Roy Blake of this county, and came to attend a church conference in Wichita. The people here were glad to meet him and to hear him preach.

Rev. P.L. Mawdsley of Protection was present during the afternoon services.

One thing which contributed greatly to the success of the building venture was the willingness and promptness on the part of the people of the township in donating work. It was necessary to hire but very little work done.

The church has very efficient and earnest officers. Wm. Oller is president of the board of trustees and Henry Knecht, church treasurer. The building committee in charge of the work was composed of Wm.Oller, O.L. Garten and Henry Knecht. Mrs. Wm.Oller and Mrs. Roy Blake are the Ladies' Aid presidents.

The "Ever Faithful Class" of the Reeder Sunday school, 25 miles distant from Avilla, pledged $25. The class numbers 25, and the members are certainly true to their name in every way. Mrs. A.V. Bigbee is the teacher.

-- The Western Star, May 11, 1917. From Ollie Hackney's Clipping Collection, courtesy of her grand-daughter, Bobbi (Hackney) Huck.

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


The early settlers in Comanche County first established homes, then erected school houses and worshipped in them until they could build churches. In those days the community was only as large as the school district, so there were Sunday Schools in almost every school house. South of Coldwater, the Avilla, Salt Fork, Fairview, West Creek and Missouri Valley school houses were used.

By 1915-1916 cars were fast replacing the horse and buggy. It was at this time that William Oller of Salt Fork and Henry Knecht of Avilla, suggested a new, centrally located church.

A building site, 11 miles south of Coldwater, given by Moritz Baessler, was accepted and on May 6, 1917, the Antioch Methodist Church was dedicated. There were 38 members. Cars made necessary good roads and both eliminated distance, so on January 18, 1948, the Fairview Church disbanded and became members of Antioch.

In 1949 the unused Salt Fork school house was moved to the church yard and made into a modern parsonage. When Rev. Bill Dial and family moved in, Antioch for the first time had a full time pastor. The church's membership is now 166. Rev. Howes is now serving his fifth year as pastor.

Antioch is the only church building in Comanche County south and east of Coldwater to the Oklahoma state line.

-- from The Diamond Jubilee Historical Booklet, page 36, published 1959.

Harold Dean Haas, a member of the Antioch Church.

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