|A BRIEF HISTORY OF FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH
is a rich one, filled with many successful events. Let us share a few
highlights with you.
The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is somewhat unique in
that it began in America in the early 19th century, and was not brought
from Europe. Our four primary founders were Thomas and Alexander
Campbell, Barton W. Stone, and Walter Scott. Although they came from
different areas and backgrounds, they shared similar beliefs that
Christians should and could unite by restoring the simplicity, freedom,
and tolerance of the early church.
Disciples started establishing churches within eastern North
Carolina in the l840's as the direct result of Thomas Campbell and his
son, Alexander, having visited the area and issuing a plea "to strive
for a brotherly union under the Lordship of Christ, the sheer
sufficiency of the script as an adequate guide." Several churches within
the Southeastern District were founded during this time: Pleasant Hill
(1845), Chinquapin Chapel (1845), Tuckahoe (1849), and later Christian
Prospect (1872) near Jarman's Fork.
It was in 1882 that a small group of believers from Christian
Prospect bought a lot in the newly incorporated town of Richlands at the
corner of what is now Hargett and Church Streets. By 1883 the first
structure had been built and dedicated by pastor Henry C. Bowen. Lumber
and two bales of cotton were donated by William Basden to complete the
edifice. Basden and W.H. Banks were elected elders; W.C. Jarman and C.C.
Basden, deacons; Isaac Brown, L.E. Duffy, and John A. Huffman, trustees.
The young congregation continued to grow during its infant years.
By November of 1910 the group, under the leadership of pastor John W.
Tyndall, had outgrown its building. A massive building project was
begun, with over a hundred individuals working at times. Within eight
days of beginning construction the larger church structure was completed
and dedicated. The hurricane of 1918 greatly damaged this structure, but
it was repaired and used until l925. At that time it was dismantled and
the lumber was used to partially build a large white parsonage; this
structure was moved in l965 by Rodney Mobley to Foy Street.
The local church continued to grow in numbers and in spirit.
During G.H. Sullivan's pastorate (1918-1922) evangelist Percy Cross held
a four week revival with 65 converts. By l935, despite the Great
Depression, the present brick structure was completed under the
leadership of pastor W. J. B. Burrus and lay leaders, W.H. Trott, J.
Parsons Brown, Leona Cox Dexter, Bertha Rhodes, Ernest Lee Huffman,
Charlie B. Huffman, Simon Taylor, Guy C.Wiggins, Coy Huffman, Frank
Brown, A.B. Ervin, Edward Whaley, and A.R. Rhodes. A new brick parsonage
was completed in 1954 on the newly acquired Woodward property adjacent
to the church. In l965, with the movement of the old parsonage, a new
educational unit was completed; in 1979, the Scout Hut and picnic area
were added. Since that time a steple was attached to the church (l994)
and a brick garage/storage building (l995) was constructed.
However, the Church is more than just buildings. It is a
brotherhood of believers who strive to follow the examples of Christ.
First Christian is exceptionally proud of the twelve individuals who
call it home and have dedicated their life to Christian service: John
T., Joseph A. and D. Guy Saunders, Andrew Askew, Clem Cox, Abijah Jarman,
Amos W. Huffman, Dr. Cecil A. Jarman, Fraulein Jarman Maloka, Dr. Donald
Gene Farrior, Philip N. Jones, and our most recent servant Lynn Maxwell.
In l982 the congregation started a year-long Centennial
celebration, with four living "Timothies" returning to speak and
families of the others worshipping with us. Under the Beechnut Trees was
written as a centennial history by Rev. Kenneth Rickett and historian
Dennis E. Jones to culminate this special year in the life of First
As we approach the 21st Century we know not what God has in store
for the congregation of First Christian in Richlands, but our prayer is
that God will continue to guide us in fulfilling His call within this
community and in His world.
Dennis E. Jones