Sunday, September 7, 1930 was the date set by a group of area Christians to revive the church of Christ in Groesbeck. On that date, 24 people (12 of which were Christians) assembled in the upper story of the Thompson building to worship God and commune with His Son, Jesus.
The infant church was persistent in its work and worship. They moved from the Thompson building to a Presbyterian tabernacle. A city lot on the north-west corner of Trinity and Commerce Streets was located and purchased. The first House of worship was erected (the present site of Henderson Flower Shop), and the first meeting in the new frame facility was May 1, 1935.
In the mid-1960’s, members of the “Commerce Street Church” and the “Southside Church” (the old Ben Hur Church), worked toward a merger. The old Courthose lot was purchased, and a spacious brick edifice was constructed thereon in 1966. A later expansion was completed in 1987.
Since that early and humble beginning, the Lord has blessed this community with literally hundreds of Brothers and Sisters. Research into sparse early church records revealed only a very limited number of early members. However, those that have been discovered and recovered, the present Christian family wish to gratefully acknowledge, … lest we forget.
The Beginnings and Progress of the church of Christ meeting in Groesbeck, Texas, USA
PLANS, PRAYERS, AND PREPARATION
(pre-September 7, 1930)
While living in Kosse, John W. Hedge was urged by J. W. Ferrill and others to conduct a “Mission meeting” in Groesbeck during October of 1928. Arrangements were made to use the District Court room of the Courthouse as a location for the meeting. Brother Hedge was assisted by Brother H. L. Reynolds of Marlin as song leader.
John W. Hedge wrote of that meeting in a personal letter. “We had large crowds and a great interest was manifested; but none were obedient to the gospel of Christ. At that time there was one or two members living in Groesbeck, and these attended worship at Box Church or elsewhere.”
THE CHURCH ORGANIZED
Shortly after the Malcolm A. Smith family moved from Big Hill into Groesbeck, he joined others in a serious effort to establish the Lord’s church in this city, September 7, 1930 was the date set for the first meeting. People gathered in the upper story of the Thompson Building (located at 309 W. Navasota Street) for a ten o’clock Sunday service. J. I. Reagan of Dallas preached at the first service while Jesse Reagan led the singing. 24 persons, 12 of whom were members of the church of Christ, were present for the first service.
The infant church moved to the Presbyterian Tabernacle located on the northeast corner of Ellis and Jacinto Streets in June 1931. One month later, Elder C. M. Moser of Coleman was invited to preach in an out-of-door “protracted meeting.”
Edgar Furr was the first full-time preacher for the church in Groesbeck. He served from early 1933 until the spring of 1935, when he moved to Lott, Texas.
The first building erected for the church of Christ was of frame construction. After it was opened for services on May 12, 1935, Jess Powell of Ft. Worth held a gospel meeting. It was reported in the Journal: “The revival meeting resulted in 20 being buried with Christ in baptism, 3 were restored to the church, and one placed membership. There were approximately 750 people present at the last service.”
Some of the early elders of the church of Christ in Groesbeck included Frank Reagan, Jess Ford, Malcolm A. Smith and perhaps others.
A county-wide evangelist, Murdo A. Sharp, was hired August 1943. He worked in the county for fifteen months.
Malcolm A. Smith, instrumental in building the local church since its inception, was employed as full-time preacher in 1944. Brother Smith worked in this capacity until 1949.
Other early preachers included Reginald Beaver (1949-51; 1955-57), Carl McCullough (1952), Ward Stevens (1953-55), and Lynn Browning (1957-60).
The church in Groesbeck did not have Elders during much of this era. The congregation operated through a general meeting of the men. As needs arose, men were assigned to be the special servant or “deacon” over the designated area of work. Thus the Groesbeck church functioned from 1950 until 1966.
MERGER AND EXPANSION
Roy Waldrum preached the Gospel in Groesbeck for three years beginning in 1960. Don Sowders moved into Groesbeck in 1963.
In the mid-1960’s, members of the Commerce Street church of Christ and the Southside church of Christ worked toward a merger. The old Courthouse lot was purchased, and a spacious brick edifice was constructed thereon. The building was opened for worship in the Spring of 1966.
The congregation revived the Elder-Deacon organization in 1967. The new Elders included W. E. Corbitt (1967-98), J. A. Van Dyke (1967-78), and Estelle Ridge (1967). Elders serving later in this era included Milton Ferguson (1972-92), Grady Rasco (1975-77), and Rex W. Leach (1984-86).
Richard Williams accepted the Elder’s invitation to move to Groesbeck, and has continuously served the congregation since September 1, 1967. Charles S. Daily also served as a minister with this church during 1979-84, before moving to work in Belton, Texas.
The church expanded its physical facility by constructing a new fellowship room, kitchen, classrooms, and office complex in 1987.
THE CLOSING DECADE OF THE 20th CENTURY
(1990 – 2000)
Late in 1991, this congregation selected additional men to serve as Elders. The newly selected Elders included Gerald Gibson (1991- ), Roland N. Slaughter (1991-94), and Rex W. Leach (1991-2001). Later in the decade John Nance (1994-2003) and John Rogers (1994- ) were appointed. B. K. Stone (2000- ) also accepted the responsibility of serving as an Elder.
The leadership of this congregation made a commitment toward the Spiritual growth for the youth of this community and this church. Men hired to serve the youth included Brian Bowers (Summer 1993, 1994-95; 1995-97), Shawn Mayes (1993-94), David Ware (1995), Finis Brewer (Summer 1997), and Kyle Parker (1997-2000).
BEGINNING THE 21st CENTURY
(2001 – 2016)
The 21st Century began with two significant events. Early in 2001 Matt Bomar (2001- 2005) arrived in Groesbeck to work with families and the youth of the church and community. After Matt and Shannon’s departure to Colorado, Charles Daily (2007-2012) returned to Groesbeck, and served an additional five years as one of its ministers.
Four years into the new Century, Ken Neyland (2004-present) was selected by the congregation to serve with John Rogers, Gerald Gibson, and B. K. Stone as one of its Elders. With the resignation of John Rogers in 2007, and death of Gerald Gibson in 2011, John Billingsley (2012-present) was selected and appointed to serve as an Elder in January 2012.
Early into the second decade, plans were initiated to make a transition in ministers. This goal was consummated in April 2013, when long-time minister, Richard Williams ceased preaching full-time. At that time the Clifton Fox family moved to Groesbeck, and he began his tenure as the full-time pulpit and outreach minister.
THE PRIMARY FOCUS OF THE GROESBECK CHURCH OF CHRIST
- Teaching Jesus to others: The Groesbeck church is directly involved in evangelistic efforts in Limestone County, not only in Groesbeck, but also assisting the support of men working in Mexia and Kosse. Beyond the local, financial and personal support is annually given to Belize, Ukraine, Russia, and India. This church also furnishes teachers for World Bible School.
- Strengthening the Groesbeck Christian family: Individual and group Bible study is emphasized and encouraged. Bible classes are available for all age groups. A weekly “Christians in Action” group dedicates itself to encouraging Spiritual growth and involvement of each member.
- Caring especially for the church family: Annual gifts are made to child care institutions in Buda, Quinlan, Medina, and Stephenville, Texas. In Oklahoma, financial assistance is made to homes in Hollis and Tipton. Special attention, according to capability, is given to natural disasters, catastrophic illnesses, and extreme financial reversals.