Our History

Central Christian Church has a curious and enchanting history, in which two events helped to shape the church into the place of fellowship and worship that it is today.  The first event occurred when a Sunday School class that had been casting about for a home where they could separate the children and adult classes.  They met on Sundays in borrowed rooms at the Benton Avenue Baptist Church, but they longed for, and prayed for, a place of their own.

The second event involved wonderful lady named Matilda Golden Campbell Weaver (Tillie) who, by herself, would answer the prayers of that Sunday School.  She was an active and respected member of the First Christian Church on the south side of town.  Tillie had something of a vision and she became almost obsessed with the notion that a church ought to be established on the north side of town.  She purchased a lot at the corner of Washington and Division for $2,600 and then built the church building and furnished it for the amount of $10,000.  The first worship service to be held at the newly started Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) occurred on December 29, 1889.

For a period of about 40 years the sanctuary served as an “all purpose room.”  When the congregation had a potluck dinner, the pews had to be removed and tables set up.  The church building was in terrible shape because the congregation had not been able to provide the maintenance needed, and so the church building had fallen into serious disrepair.  The congregation, in 1929, dedicated the new church building and thereby ushered in the Great Depression with a large mortgage.  Unable to make the payments, some of the congregation’s leaders traveled to St. Louis to tell the mortgage holders the bad news.  The delegation was surprised to find the bankers did not want the church and suggested that Central come up with a plan.  Thus, was formed the 200 Club.  Two-hundred church members promised to give one extra dollar each month to help make the mortgage payments.  The club stayed active way beyond the mortgage and after World War II, it provided the money to have a pipe organ designed and built for the church.  Along about that same time, the Senior Minister, helped the denomination in establishing the Brentwood Christian Church on Barataria Street.

Commercial Street, once one of the liveliest shopping areas in the state, had started a slow change after World War II, there were those who thought that if Central Christian didn’t move, it would die.  It was in those years that the church came into possession of a plot of land, some thought a move would save the church and it did seem logical.  So, it was a little surprising that the congregation, after much discussion, felt it was needed exactly where it was located, on the very spot where Tillie Weaver had purchased for them a century before.  The land was eventually given away to establish Gateway Christian Church on Republic Road.  Central even provided a core congregation to get the church up and going.

Since deciding to stay in the Mid-Town Area of Springfield, Central Christian has grown and become a thriving member of the community.  The church dedicated the new extension of its building, the McGinnis Fellowship Hall, in 2001.  In the McGinnis Fellowship Hall, many different agencies, groups, and people of the community have met in fellowship and planning for the area.  As well, many programs have gathered to help those in need among our community and town.

Amid celebrating the 125th year of Central Christian Church, updated its sanctuary.  The updating including restoring the sanctuary to the original architecture that had been changed in the 1970’s.  The sanctuary was painted, modern amenities were added, the pipe organ was completely renovated, and the dome ceiling, which had been covered up, was repaired and restored to its original luster.

The years following the establishment of Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in 1889 have been filled with despair, excitement, disappointment, growth, shrinkage, renewal, promise, and most of all a spiritual adventure for tens of thousands of Springfieldians.  Most anyone you speak to now, will tell you there is a closeness to God, and a thrilling spirit that comes with the active membership in this church that was started so long ago, with the hope of living out the purpose “to love God and live the Gospel through worship, fellowship, and service within and outside our walls.”