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First Christian Church
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa

Mount Ayr Christian Church, circa 1975

 

Photograph courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News

Mount Ayr's Christian Church was organized in 1881 by Reverend William GADD of Ottumwa. He remained in Mount Ayr until 1884. The organizing congregation numbered twenty-three members.

The first church was built in 1883, located one block east of the northeast corner of the square. It was built for a total of $2,700, which included the lot, the building, and the furnishings.

Reverend J. P. LUCAS came to preach monthly from spring until August of 1884. The church was sold to J. A. McNERNEY in 1913, then to the Catholic parish.

A new Christian church was constructed at the southwest corner of the square in 1911 with dedication in 1912.

The First Christian Church of Mount Ayr celebrated the 75th anniversary of its establishment on October 6, 1957. The church was destroyed by fire in the 1980's.

Twice-A-Week News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, January 26 & 29, 1915

The Loyal Daughters of the Christian Church Sunday school have elected the following officers: President, Taca WILSON; vice-president, Ollie DADY; and secretary, Bertha WILSON.

Twice-A-Week News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, December 03, 1915

The great cash day at the Christian Church last Sunday was one that will be long remembered. The slogan, "$2,500 in 25 Minutes," was more than lived up to for the accomplishment was $2,600 in 24 minutes. The church is now entirely out of debt.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, December of 2015

Mount Ayr Record News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, October 03, 1957

The 75th anniversary of the founding of the First Christian Church in Mount Ayr will be observed with appropriate services and programs next Sunday, Oct. 6, according to announcement by the pastor, Rev. Clyde E. MOSHER.

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, February 14, 1980

For the second time in a little over a month, fire struck the First Christian church of Mount Ayr early Tuesday morning. And this one was no minor affair, but a full-fledged disaster. Preliminary estimates Tuesday noon were running in the neighborhood of $150,000, according to one source. There is hardly an area of the church that was not affected by the fire, which was discovered about 5 a.m. Tuesday.

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, March 05, 1981

The groundbreaking ceremony for the new First Christian Church in Mount Ayr will be at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, March 8 at the church site, 201 West Monroe. The groundbreaking will be done by a hand-hewn plow that is over 100 years old and formerly belonged to Hugh TERWILLEGER'S grandfather, then a member of the church. Ropes will be attached to the plow allowing many to provide the "power" needed to move the plow.

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, September 30, 1982

The First Christian Church of Mount Ayr will observe its 100th anniversary on Sunday, October 3, with special services marking the date.

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, June 10, 1993

An attic fire, probably caused by defective wiring, resulted in an estimated $7,500 worth of damage at the Mount Ayr Christian Church. The fire was thought to have smouldered in newly installed insulation for quite a while before the discovery of smoke, noticed outside the building, brought the Mount Ayr volunteer firemen to the scene. As Ringgold county supervior, Doyle TRULLINGER, was coming to the courthouse to work about 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 9, he noticed smoke rolling out of the church attic. He reported this to Pastor Phil KINTON and the fire department was called.

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, December 29, 2016, Page 4

By Mike Avitt

Mount Ayr's First Christian Church was gutted by fire in February 1980 while being renovated. The damage was so severe the church had to be razed and the current church building was dedicated March 21, 1982. Thanks to the Mount Ayr Public Library for this week's photo.

Helen Hunt donated a 1957 First Christian Church program for this week's article. The program is from the 75th Anniversary of the First Christian Church and is filled with information about the church building and its congregation. This week we'll look at the formation of the church and its multiple locations.

The early beginnings find religious services being held in Ringgold County's second courthouse. It was a two-story, wood structure sitting where Lucky Lanes is today. The year was 1868 and the congregation was organized in 1872 by James Conoran. They then held worship services in the newly constructed United Presbyterian Church.

The congregation later moved back to the courthouse, members moved away, and soon there was no money to employ a pastor.

The congregation struggled until, in 1880, Brother Porter moved the flock from the opera house back to the United Presbyterian Church with meetings held regularly. John Sconce moved here from Illinois and helped with teaching and preaching. In 1881 and 1882, Brother William Gadd came from Ottumwa to officially organize the Church of Christ and add to its membership.

The church was incorporated May 25, 1883 and a location was chosen for the first church building. The structure was built by Soles & Case for $1,520.00 at 203 East Madison just east of Hucke & Dowling Blacksmith Shop. The new House of Worship was dedicated January 13, 1884.

Preachers came and went, members were added to the roster, and the new bell rang for the first time June 11, 1887.

Reverend L. C. Swan came for two stints as pastor and his second stay resulted in the new brick church built on the southwest corner of the square. The new church was built for $15,000.00 and dedicated March 15, 1914.

The program says much of this information came from the 50th anniversary held in 1932. George Rains put that information together. Updates were supplied by Ada Beall, Sister Marshall, G. M. Kirby, and Brother Spurrier.

The parsonage west of the church was acquired in 1957. This was the former Dr. C. C. Lawhead home. The church still owns the property today, although it is no longer used as a parsonage.

Nest week we'll look at some folks who started the church and some others who kept it going.

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, January 05, 2017, Page 10

By Mike Avitt

The Christian Church congregation outgrew their original church and built new on the southwest corner of the square in 1913. The original Christian Church was built in 1883-84 and was located at 203 E. Madison. It was sold to the Catholics and they dedicated their new church December 9, 1913.

Helen Hunt gave me a program from the Christian Church's 75 Anniversary celebration and I want to point out a few people who started the congregation and kept it going all these years.

William Sherrill is on a list of charter members (1882). Mr. Sherrill's obituary says he built the first hotel and livery barn in Knowlton (1887). I call Sherrill a co-founder of Knowlton as James F. McGinty's obituary says he built the first house in Knowlton.

Corwin Beall is on the charter member list. He was a cousin to my favorite Ringgold County historian, Randolph Beall. Randolph was a Methodist Episcopal.

Helen Rains is also on this list. She was the second wife of George Washington Rains and had been published in Christian periodicals as well as women's magazines.

There is also a list of living, continuous members as of October 1957. Miss Addie Milligan heads this list having joined the church on August 9, 1885. In 5th place was Addie's sister Amanda who joined the church on July 13, 1890.

In eleventh position was Mrs. Nina (Miller) Allyn, widow of Earle K. Allyn. Nina's grandparents were Mr. and Mrs. E. W. Critchfield and they were founding members. Nina's father-in-law was the esteemed George S. Allyn, banker, developer, philanthropist, and public servant. Nina wrote her memories in the 1960s and I get some detailed information from her writings about Mount Ayr in the 1890s.

In the history section, Jessie (Fullerton) Lesan is praised for her 30-plus years of service as musical director at the church. Jessie was involved in many Mount Ayr organizations and contributed greatly to all of them. She was the daughter-in-law of Mary Ann Lesan, another Ringgold County historian. Jessie's husband, Clyde, was the well-known insurance and real estate man.

Franklin Spurrier was on the Education Committee. Frank's dad, Sam Spurrier, became sole owner of the Mount Ayr Record-News in 1911 and Frank took over the paper in about 1940 upon Sam's death. Franklin Spurrier sold the newspaper to Jack and Helen Terry in 1966.

There are many, many familiar names in this program and I'll mention one more. Lucy Timby. Lucy's husband was William Thomas Timby (his obituary says his membership was with the United Presbyterian Church) and her father-in-law was William Timby, the builder of many Mount Ayr business buildings, some of which are still standing.

Thanks again, to Helen Hunt for the 1957 program.

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, November 15, 2007, Page 4

First Christian Church observes 125th anniversary

The 125th anniversary of the founding of the First Christian Church of Mount Ayr was observed with special services on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2007. (The church was officially organized Sunday, Oct. 4, 1882.)

Prior to the Sunday school hour, a special opening ceremony was had in the fellowship hall. Children led the singing accompanied by Charlotte Swank, Kay Terwilliger had an appropriate devotion.

The church worship service was patterened after the centennial anniversary of Oct. 3, 1982. Perfect attendance Sunday school pins were awarded to Jentry Ruby (six years); Jesse Ruby (nine years); Josh Case (10 years); Neil Hartman (31 years) and Ike McGehee (67 years).

The greeting song, "The Church on the Square," with words written in 1920 was followed by the ringing of the church bell. The bell has hung in each of the three buildings to house the congregation since 1882 with the bell being installed July 11, 1887 at a cost of $198.52, the money for the purchase raised by the Ladies Aid.

The choir sang and other songs of worship were sung, "The Church's One Foundation" had also been sung at the 75th anniversary celebration. The children, along with the pastor, favored with two, fun, spirit-filled selections.

Pastor Karen Moore's message, "Remembering Who and Whose We Are," with scripture from Deuteronomy 8:1-18, reminded the congregation of their glorious past history and the unlimited opportunities for the future life and witness of the church.

The church hour closed with the singing of "God Be With You." Following the worship service, a meal was served of homemade soups, prepared and made by Cathy Ward and her committee, salads and desserts. Birthday anniversary cakes were furnished by Steve and Gail Trullinger.

Although the church was officially organized in 1882, a group of the Disciples of Christ had been meeting in Mount Ayr or Ringgold county, in the courthouse as early as 1868.

Planning for Sunday's anniverary celebration was done by a committee chaired by Sherry Pooler and including Bill Anderson, Neva Fisher, Mary Hixson, Mari McGehee, Julie Routh, Steve Trullinger, Tiffany Wimer and Pastor Karen Moore. This committee is planning an anniversary celebration of 140 years of the church's existance, to be held on Memorial Day Weekend (May 24-25, 2008).

~ ~ ~ ~

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, May 22, 2008, Page 16

First Christian Church to celebrate 140 years

"Find Us Faithful" is the theme for the 140th anniversary celebration planned by the First Christian Church in Mount Ayr Saturday and Sunday, May 24-25.

The church was first organized in 1868 and met in the basement of the courthouse. A congregation was chartered in 1882 an a church building built east of the current fire station in Mount Ayr in 1884, which served the church until a brick church was built in 1913 at the site of the present church. That church burned down in 1980 and the congregation met in their former building, which was then the St. Joseph Catholic Church, while their present building on the corner of the square was built.

Two days of celebration of the anniversary of the church will be held and several former clergy and/or their families are planning to be part of the activities.

The regional church staff will be represented by Richard Guentert and Don Hiscox. Former pastors or their families expected to attend include Larry Quire, Dr. Richard Reel, Howard Wakeland, Sonja Park, Bill Gardner and Doris Kinton.

Saturday afternoon there will be a sandwich luncheon, musical entertainment, a time to share memories and an ice cream sundae social.

Sunday there will be a fellowship hour with guests, a special anniversary worship, a potluck luncheon and more time for sharing and music.

Pastor Karen Moore and the congregation invite the public to share in the activities of the weekend.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, October of 2015

  Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, July 25 2013

Local artist envisions mural in downtown Mount Ayr

At right: Local artist Lisa Conklin stands beside her mural that has been erected on the belltower at First Christian Church in Mount Ayr.

A local artist hopes her dream to bring art to the Mount Ayr square catches on in a big way.

Lisa Conklin hs painted an 8x8 foot mural that currently hangs on the belltower at the First Christian Church in Mount Ayr. Using acryllic painted on plywood, Conklin finished the project over the course of a few months.

Conklin describes herself as an impressionistic landscape artist, and she has found Ringgold county a ready source of inspiration.

"Ever since I hoped here," she said, "I've been impressed with the landscape in this area."

Her belltower mural depicts a tranquil scene featuring the gazebo and foot bridge at Poe Hollow county park.

. . . First Christian Church funded the $500 cost of materials, and Conklin donated her time and talents as a gift to the community from herself and from the First Christian Church. (Conklin is the wife of First Christian pastor Chris Conklin.)

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, April 02, 2015, Page 11

Working for a good cause

Youth and volunteers from the First Christian Church collected over 400 food items for the Neighborhood Center Food Bank. Fifteen youth are learning the value of giving back to their communties and earning a summer pool pass by completing 10 hours or more of community service around Mount Ayr on their Spring Break. The group cleaned up the parks and lakes, helped out with bingo at Clearview Homes and crried out the food drive.

Volunteer mentor Michell Ricker said, "It is a joy and a privilege to be a part of this Pool Pass Scholarship program, work along side these capable youth, watch them experience the satisfaction of giving back to their community and to help them earn a summer pool pass that would be a burden for their family to purchase."

Youth pictured include Taylor Clymer, Skylar Armstrong, Alisha and Preston Dine, Bianca Beamgard, Hunter and Alyssa Jay, Daron Drake, Robbie, Scott, Rhianna and Chaddlan Suppinger, Lauren and Logan Conklin and Nickolas Roemer.

Adult members pictured are Michell Ricker, Liz Faris, Juanita Sickels, Karen Denny and Barb Vaal.

Not pictured are Alexa Drayton, Cameron Charter, Terri Chafa, Daniel Roemer, Karen Schaefer and Pastor Chris Conklin.

SOURCES:
AVITT, Mike. Pages and Pictures from the Past . . . Ringgold County, Iowa: 1885-2005 p. 23. Paragon Publications, Inc. Mount Ayr, Iowa. 2009.

LESAN, Mrs. B. M. Early History of Ringgold County: 1844 - 1937 p. 59. Blair Pub. House. Lamoni IA. 1937.

2009 Photograph & Transcriptions by Sharon R. Becker, May of 2009; updated September of 2012; updated September of 2013; updated September & October of 2015; updated December of 2015; updated April of 2017


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