19 June, 2024

Readers Help to Double Size of Oldest Independent Christian Church Listing

by | 15 November, 2023 | 8 comments

By Jim Nieman 

From almost the moment we posted a list of the oldest Independent Christian Churches and Churches of Christ still meeting for worship each week, we began receiving updates to our list from readers and churchgoers. We have been updating the original list over the past two weeks as more and more “senior churches” were brought to our attention. 

Thank you, readers, for your wonderful response! We knew our initial list of older churches—gleaned from our “church statistics” issues of the last few years—was incomplete, and we hoped that readers would share additional church names . . . and you did not disappoint! 

The list of churches that started before 1860 stood at 51 when we posted it on Nov. 1. Over the next two weeks, it grew to 105 churches. And since posting this article on the morning of Nov. 15, we have received the names of 17 additional churches, denoted by asterisks, *. The new total is 122 churches. 

The exact start-up date for some of these churches is a bit unclear. In most cases, we have allowed readers to determine that for us.  

For example, the first church on our list started in 1740, but the earliest date commonly associated with the Restoration Movement is 1801, when the Cane Ridge Revival took place in Kentucky. As noted in our brief entry for Calvary Christian Church (Glen Allen, Va.), the church started in 1740 and became independent in about 1833. 

At other times, a church met for a few years before being “established.” For example, the “Early History” page at the website for Hopwood Christian Church (Johnson City, Tenn.) states that their “sign and cornerstone both read ‘1834’ as the date the church was established. Early documents [however] indicate that the Hopwood congregation, originally the ‘Buffalo (or Buffaloe . . . or Buffalow!) Creek Christian Church’ is a bit older.” A reader shared the “start date” for Hopwood as 1826, which probably is correct. We decided, however, to go with the date that is on the church’s cornerstone, 1834. 

Very few judgment calls of that sort were necessary, however.  

Here is an updated listing of the oldest Independent Christian Churches and Churches of Christ. In many cases, we have included a snippet of correspondence—typically an interesting or clarifying fact—that was provided by the person who submitted the name and start-up date of the church to us. 

_ _ _

1740 — Calvary Christian Church (Glen Allen, Virginia; became Independent c. 1833) 

1790 — East Union Christian Church (Carlisle, Kentucky) 

[“I was minister there from 2020 until Oct. 31, 2022,” wrote John Herndon. “The church started as a Brethren church in 1790 but was undoubtedly influenced by the Cane Ridge Revival about 15 miles away. While there, I could never find any records of when the church became affiliated with the Restoration Movement, but we do know it was connected with Raccoon John Smith early in his ministry. In the 1800s the church had a preacher named Peter Hon who was said to have baptized over 5,000 people. I saw several accounts claiming the church is the oldest Christian Church still meeting in the U.S. but could never confirm that. I did make a big deal that it was older than the state of Kentucky.” 

Another contributor, Steven Braman, wrote: “The original congregation was founded in 1790 as the Hinkston Creek or East Union Dunkard Church with Jonas Hon as the minister. He was the father of Peter Keithly Hon. The East Union church joined the Restoration Movement in the early 1830s.”] 

1798 — Stony Point Christian Church (Charlestown, Indiana) 

[“We recently celebrated our 225th year” at Stony Point, Tim Anderson wrote. “We began in 1789 . . . and became a part of the Restoration Movement in 1829.”] 

c. 1800 — Parksville Christian Church (Parksville, Kentucky) 

1800 — Cool Spring Christian Church (Keysville, Virginia) 

1803 — Indian Creek Christian Church (Cynthiana, Kentucky) 

[Reader Michael Goodwin called Indian Creek “the oldest active Independent Christian church.”] 

1811 — Dutch Fork Christian Church (Claysville, Pennsylvania) 

[“Dutch Fork Christian Church . . . might be the oldest Restoration Church in Pennsylvania,” wrote Jason Carnley. It is located “near Washington, Pennsylvania, where the movement started.”] 

1812 — Post Oak Springs Christian Church* (Rockwood, Tennessee)

1814 — Countryside Church of Christ (Seaman, Ohio) 

1815 — Driftwood Christian Church (Vallonia, Indiana) 

[“My father, Bob Martin, was the minister there in the 1950s,” Sarah Kelly shared.] 

1818 — Mulkeytown Christian Church (Mulkeytown, Illinois) 

1819 — Keensburg Christian Church (Keensburg, Illinois) 

1820 — New Glasgow Christian Church* (New Glasgow, Prince Edward Island, Canada)

1821 — Bentonville Ebenezer Christian Church (Lewisville, Indiana) 

1821 — Bethel Christian Church (Fountain City, Indiana) 

1821 — First Christian Church (Minerva, Ohio) 

[First Christian was “originally called the Plains Church,” reader Mark Hahlen noted.] 

1823 — New Hope Christian Church (Columbus, Indiana) 

[“New Hope Christian Church . . . began as a Baptist church in 1823 and in September they celebrated their 200th year,” ICOM’s David Empson shared. “They became an independent Christian Church in 1832 after the Christian connection took place in Georgetown/Lexington, Ky., with Barton Stone and Alexander Campbell coming together. This is my home church.”] 

1823 — Clermont Christian Church (Clermont, Indiana; originally called Old Union Church) 

1823 — Little Prairie Christian Church (Albion, Illinois) 

1824 — Mountain Christian Church (Joppa, Maryland) 

1824 — Berlin Christian Church (Berlin, Illinois) 

1825 — Boones Creek Christian Church (Johnson City, Tennessee) 

1825 — North Central Church of Christ (Bloomington, Indiana) 

1826 — Leesburg Christian Church (Cynthiana, Kentucky) 

1826 — Mackville Christian Church (Mackville, Kentucky) 

[“We are planning a 200-year celebration in 2026,” minister John Herndon shared. “I am trying to find all the history I can.”] 

1827 — Bluff Creek Christian Church (Greenwood, Indiana) 

1828 — Corner House Christian Church (Hubbard, Ohio) 

1828 — Lick Prairie Christian Church (near Lancaster, Illinois) 

1828 — Bethany Christian Church (Bumpass, Virginia) 

[“Started in 1828 by James M. Bagby,” Frank Forehand noted.] 

1828 — Old Ford Church of Christ* (Washington, North Carolina) 

1829 — Plainfield Christian Church (Plainfield, Indiana) 

1830 — White Oak Christian Church (Cincinnati, Ohio) 

1830 — Bethany Christian Church (Washington, Indiana) 

1830 — Hanoverton Christian Church (Hanoverton, Ohio) 

1830 — Greenford Christian Church (Greenford, Ohio) 

1830 — Union City Christian Church (Richmond, Kentucky) 

1830 — Manville Christian Church (Madison, Indiana) 

[Manville Christian “claims to be the oldest Christian Church, still on its original foundation, in Indiana,” Erman Allen shared.] 

1831 — First Christian Church (Monticello, Kentucky) 

1831 — Clarksburg Christian Church (Clarksburg, Indiana) 

1832— Greenford Christian Church (Greenford, Ohio) 

1832 — Germantown Christian Church (Brooksville, Kentucky) 

1832 — Ash Grove Christian Church (Windsor, Illinois) 

1832 — Corinth Christian Church* (Manquin, Virginia)

1833 — First Christian Church (Decatur, Illinois) 

1833 — Tranter’s Creek Church of Christ* (Washington, North Carolina) 

1834 — Traders Point Christian Church (Whitestown, Indiana) 

1834 — Hopwood Christian Church (Milligan College, Tennessee) 

1834 — Pleasant Ridge Christian Church (near Lawrenceville, Illinois) 

1834 — Clarence Church of Christ (Clarence, New York) 

[“The Clarence Church of Christ was . . . first known as First Congregation of Disciples of Christ,” Linda Waugh wrote. “The congregation erected their first meetinghouse in 1843. This original stone meetinghouse is (now) site of the town’s Historical Society. In 1876, the congregation built a larger brick building that continued to be used until 1970, when the current building was built on Old Goodrich Road. This building also housed New York Christian Institute during its existence. During the 1950s, the congregation broke ties with the Disciples of Christ identity in order to maintain autonomous leadership and control of their building and resources. At this time the congregation became known as the Clarence Church of Christ.”] 

1835 — The Church at Mt. Gilead (Mooresville, Indiana) 

1835 — First Christian Church (Charlottesville, Virginia) 

1836 — Pleasant Hill Christian Church (Washington County, Iowa) 

[“Originally (called) Pleasant Hill Church of Christ,” Steven Braman shared. “It is considered the oldest still existing Restoration Movement congregation in Iowa. Founded in the home of Isaac Briggs south of Washington, Iowa. First minister was Absalom Leeper . . . I am a descendant.] 

1837 — Middletown Christian Church (Middletown, Missouri) 

[The Middletown Church “is considered the oldest operating church in Montgomery County. It is also considered the oldest continuous operating independent Christian church in Missouri” (information from MCC’s website shared by Lloyd Pelfrey).] 

1837 — Connection Pointe Christian Church* (Brownsburg, Indiana; originally called Brownsburg Christian Church)  

1838 — Eastside Christian Church (Milford, Ohio) 

[Eastside was originally called Mulberry Church of Christ, Dick Hess noted.] 

1839 — Campbellsville Christian Church (Campbellsville, Kentucky) 

1839 — First Christian Church (Sturgis, Kentucky) 

[First Christian “started as Cypress Creek Christian,” Stephen Collins noted.] 

1839 — Portland Mills Christian Church (Rockville, Indiana) 

[Portland MIlls’ “original building was going to be underwater, because Cecil Harden Lake was being built,” reader John Cornel shared. “(So) they moved about a mile into an old Seceder Presbyterian church which was no longer meeting.] 

1840 — Mount Tabor Christian Church (Salem, Indiana) 

1840 — Northpointe Community Church (DeWitt, Michigan) 

1840 — Cambridge City Christian Church (Cambridge City, Indiana) 

1840 — CrossView Christian Church (Waynesville, Ohio) 

[CrossView was “formerly Ferry Church of Christ,” noted reader Hope Combs.] 

1840 — First Christian Church (Grayville, Illinois) 

1840 — Bethlehem Church of Christ (Winchester, Ohio) 

1840 — New Somerset Christian Church* (Toronto, Ohio)

c. 1840 — Christian Church of New Cumberland* (New Cumberland, West Virginia)

1841 — Hutsonville Christian Church (Hutsonville, Illinois) 

1841 — Ruddles Mill Christian Church (Paris, Kentucky) 

1842 — First Christian Church (Barnesville, Ohio) 

1842 — Poplar Ridge Christian Church (Piney Flats, Tennessee) 

1842 — Lancaster Church of Christ (Lancaster, Illinois) 

1843 — White House Christian Church (Bridgeport, Illinois) 

1844 — South Fork Christian Church (Verona, Kentucky) 

1844 — Abingdon Church of Christ (Abingdon, Iowa) 

1845 — Warsaw Christian Church (Warsaw, Missouri) 

1845 — Marion Christian Church (near West Salem, Illinois) 

1845 — Bachelor Creek Church of Christ (Wabash, Indiana) 

1845 — Pattonsburg Christian Church* (Toluca, Illinois)

1845 — County Line Christian Church* (Axton, Virginia) 

1846 — Amity Christian Church (Amity, Oregon) 

1847 — Delta Church of Christ (Delta, Ohio) 

1847 — Ladoga Christian Church (Ladoga, Indiana) 

[A church history indicates that Alexander Campbell held a series of revivals in the area and used Ladoga as his base of operations.] 

1848 — Athens Christian Church (Lexington, Kentucky) 

1850 — Indian Run Christian Church (East Canton, Ohio) 

1850 — Croton Church of Christ (Croton, Ohio) 

1850 — Texas Christian Church (Clinton, Illinois) 

1850 — Westport Christian Church (Westport, Indiana) 

1850 — Lane Christian Church (Lane, Illinois)  

1850 — White Mills Christian Church (White Mills, Kentucky) 

1850 — Hardinville Christian Church (Hardinville, Illinois) 

1850 — Athens Chapel Church of Christ* (Bath, North Carolina) 

1851 — First Christian Church (Warsaw, Indiana) 

1851 — First Christian Church (Carmi, Illinois) 

1852 — Millersburg Christian Church (MIllersburg, Ohio) 

[“Millersburg Christian Church’s roots go back to 1840 and was officially organized in 1852,” Wes McElravy reported.] 

1852 — Colfax Christian Church* (Colfax, Indiana)

1852 — First Christian Church* (Clinton, Illinois)

1853 — Central Christian Church (Mt. Vernon, Illinois) 

1853 — Lincoln Christian Church (Lincoln, Illinois) 

1853 — Castle Rock Christian Church (Castle Rock, Washington) 

1853 — Orleans Church of Christ (near Moulton, Iowa) 

1853 — Georgetown Christian Church (Georgetown, Indiana)

1854 — Rising Sun Church of Christ (Pleasant Hill, Iowa) 

1854 — Buchanan Christian Church (Buchanan, Michigan) 

1854 — Maple Grove Christian Church* (Jamesville, North Carolina) 

1855 — First Christian Church (Canton, Ohio) 

1855 — First Christian Church (Columbus, Indiana) 

1855 — Shelby Christian Church (Versailles, Indiana) 

1855 — Atlanta Christian Church (Atlanta, Illinois) 

1856 — Milford Church of Christ (Centerburg, Ohio) 

1856 — Greenville First Christian Church (Greenville, Illinois) 

1856 — Willisburg Christian Church (Willisburg, Kentucky) 

1856 — First Christian Church (Lyons-Muir, Michigan) 

[First Christian was “founded in 1856 by Isaac Errett,” Thomas A. Chamberlin noted.] 

1857 — Christian Chapel Church of Christ* (Williamston, North Carolina)  

1858 — Pleasant Grove Church of Christ (Mt. Gilead, Ohio) 

c. 1858 — Pricetown Church of Christ (Hillsboro, Ohio) 

1858 — Putnam Christian Church (Putnam, Illinois) 

[“I preached at Putnam Christian Church in the 1970s,” wrote Dan Cameron. “They were founded in 1858 and the sanctuary was built on 1866 . . . and is still in use and in great repair.”] 

1858 — West Village Christian Church (near Albion, Illinois) 

1858 — First Christian Church (West Salem, Illinois) 

1859 — Hope Christian Church (Indianapolis, Indiana) 

1859 — Crossroads Christian Church (Washington Court House, Ohio) 

1859 — Millwood Church of Christ (Howard, Ohio) 

1859 — Athens Chapel Church of Christ* (Bath, North Carolina) 

_ _ _ 

OTHER POSSIBILITIES 

Here is a list of some other older Christian churches. Readers provided these church names but did not know their precise start dates: 

• Augusta Christian Church, Augusta, Ohio (probably around 1830 to 1840) 

• First Christian Church (Kensington, Ohio) 

• West Liberty Christian Church (West Liberty, Pennsylvania)  

• New Alexander Christian Church (New Alexander, Ohio) 

• Liberty Christian Church (Madison, Indiana) 

• Liberty Christian Church (Martinsville, Indiana) 

• Wellsville First Christian Church (Wellsville, Ohio)

Can anyone help with these? 

_ _ _ 

Readers also submitted the names of some Christian churches that started after 1860, but we have chosen to limit this list to only churches that started before 1860. 

One other church — Mayslick Christian Church (Mayslick, Kentucky) — was suggested, but it is a Disciples of Christ (Christian) church . . . otherwise, it would have qualified. Of note, however: Walter Scott started MCC and is buried in that community of about 250. 

Thanks, again, to everyone who helped provide a more complete listing! 

I will continue to post church names as I receive them at [email protected]

Jim Nieman serves as managing editor of Christian Standard. 

8 Comments

  1. Annabelle Schertzinger

    I believe that Englewood Christian Church in Indianapolis was established in the 1800’s but I’m not sure of the exact year. I was the 5th generation of my family to be members there. I think that unfortunately in recent years they have removed themselves from the Restoration Movement.

  2. Lorraine Schwass

    The Pattonsburg Christian Church (Toluca, Illinois) was founded in May, 1845. It is located where three rural mail routes come together, and it is on the Toluca mail route. The building was built in 1865, and it is still in use and in good repair. We have a Facebook page for any one interested.

  3. Nancy Storms

    An internet search shows Englewood Christian Church was established in Indianapolis in 1895.

  4. Katy Lines

    Nancy Storms is correct. Englewood Christian Church in Indy began in 1895 and we are still part of the independent Christian Churches.

  5. Christian Standard

    FROM THE EDITOR: A reader shared a bit of Sunshine State-related history via email. He wrote, “The First Christian Church of Lake Butler, Fla., began in 1876, making it the oldest Christian Church in Florida.”

  6. Jenny Honican

    Christian Chapel Church of Christ (www.christianchapelcrossroads.org) in Martin County, North Carolina was founded in 1857 by Stanley Ayers. It is also rumored that Tranters Creek Church of Christ in Beaufort County, North Carolina was founded by Alexander Campbell. (If it matters, these are instrumental churches but part of the Restoration Movement nonetheless!). There are actually more older churches in Eastern North Carolina.

  7. Greg Taylor

    First Christian Church in Clinton, Illinois began in 1852.

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