Mica Marriott-Ward
Special to The Gardner News
The northeast corner of Oak and Park streets hasn’t changed much in almost 100 years. The Church of Christ and its congregation have called the corner home ever since the church was constructed by church founders almost a century ago.
The Church of Christ first held a tent meeting in June 1911 on the southwest corner of Center and Park streets. Evangelists Grissom Cassell and Ralph C. Yadon encouraged the believers, and shortly after the tent meeting, a congregation of 20 families, including approximately 33 members, was officially formed.
The 20 founding families were Blunk, Bone, Carberry, Clark, Cramer, Dille, Frakes, Hayden, Hibbard, Hutton, Jewett, Lefmann, Meng, Mussick, Reed, Rice, Sebring, Turner, Victor and Whittiker. The members began meeting upstairs above the Grange Store on the northwest corner of Elm and Park streets.
On June 24 1911, the charter members signed the following statement: “Under the name ‘Church of Christ,’ we, the undersigned, met at Gardner, Kansas, Johnson County, June 18th 1911, in order that we from this time onward might keep the ordinances of the Lord’s House as He has commanded us to in the New Testament, which New Testament we take as our only rule of faith and practice.”
Their first official Sunday worship was the following day on June 25, 1911.
At the time, many members of the Church of Christ had been meeting at the Carroll School House southeast of Gardner. The families moved their church membership to Gardner’s newly formed congregation. It is believed that Church of Christ members had been meeting at the Carroll School House as early as 1871, started by the Sidney Gay family from Illinois.
On June 15, 1912, the new congregation met and decided to purchase a lot for a church building to be constructed. The members selected for the building committee were Tom Turner, J. H. Meng, N.L. Glover, C. L. Dille, and E.Y. Gay.
The building was constructed by Cramer and Eyerly, who built many houses and structures in Gardner during that time. Lumber was supplied by the Gardner Lumber Co. on Warren Street, and the building was completed in fall 1912.
Indoor restrooms and classrooms were added in the 1950s, and in the 1960s, more classrooms were added on the northeast sides of the church building.
Since 1911, Gardner Church of Christ’s leadership has been provided by numerous evangelists until Feb. 5, 1961, when a group of elders was appointed.
Clifford Gottstein provided leadership until his passing in August 2002.