Christian Church

Leon, Iowa
 Leon Reporter, Leon, Iowa
Thursday, April 2, 1903

At the Christian Church, Wednesday evening, April 8th, at 7:30:

No admission price will be charged -- everyone is welcome to come. An excellent program is to be rendered and a pleasant social time together is anticipated. The ladies have distributed many small sacks, made for the occasion, accompanied with the following rhyme:
This little sock we give to you;
'Tis not for you to wear;
Please multiply half your age by two,
And place therein with care
A penny or a cent
For every year you've spent.

Within eight weeks we give you time
To account for every cent or dime;
And if you have a friend
Be sure to get a sock to lend.

Just remember the place and date
We'll welcome you both early and late.

Instrumental Music - Beryl Ellinwood.
Duet - Stella and Georgia Gardner.
Reading - Mrs. Dr. Woodmansee.
Recitation - Leta Gibson.
Song - Male Quartet; Messrs. Darrah, Caster, Warner and Woodmansee.
Reading - Marion Woodard.
Recitation - Etta Clark.
Instrumental Music - Mrs. Jenks.
Instrumental Music - Mrs. Jenks.
Music - Male Quartet.
Reading - Edith Harris.
Recitation - Ollie Foxworthy.
Instrumental Music - Beryl Ellinwood.
Solo - Irene Henry.
Reading - Mrs. Ellen Warner.
Recitation - Madeline Ghormley.
Male Quartet.

Copied by Nancee (McMurtrey) Seifert, August 24, 2003
'Leon Christian Church Celebrates 50th Anniversary
of the Founding of the Church in Leon.'
 Leon Reporter, Leon, Iowa
Thursday, June 9, 1904

The members of the Leon Christian Church celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the church in Leon at the church last Sunday.

On the first Lord's day in June, 1854, a little band of pioneer Christians met and organized the Leon Christian Church, there being twenty-three charter members. Of this number there are still living seven members, MRS. AMANDA MCCLELLAND and J.W. GARDNER, of Leon, MRS. CATHARINE GARDNER, of Decatur City, MRS. JULIA WELDON, of Grand River, MRS. NANCY WELDON, of Stonefield, Mo., MRS. J.C. PORTER, of Norwalk, California, and MRS. ANN PORTER, of Garfield, Oregon. At the services Sunday morning there were two of the charter members in attendance, MRS. MCCLELLAND and MR. GARDNER of this city. Instead of the regular service there were a short talk by the pastor, special music by the choir, and the history of the church for fifty years was read, the first twenty-five years compiled by T.J. HASTY, of King City, Mo., which was read by MRS. CREED BOBBITT, and the last twenty-five years compiled and read by MRS. ANNA CURRY, of Leon.

Letters were read from the absent members, and from all the former pastors of the church who could be located, including Elder Majors, of Minneapolis, Elder T.J. Hasty, of King City, Mo., Elder A.B. Cornell, of Brighton, Iowa, and Elder C.F. Stevens, of Trenton, Mo.

After the services at the church there was a basket dinner held at the home of C.M. KETCHAM, and after dinner there were several hours pleasantly spent in singing old church songs, and in reminiscences of the early church life and work by MRS. MCCLELLAND, MRS. KIRKPATRICK, MRS. CHASTAIN, J.M. CHASTAIN, MRS. LUCY ALLBAUGH, A.F. KEMP and others, and a word of greeting was ordered sent to all living charter members of the church. The day was one of great pleasure and spiritual enjoyment to all present.
'History of the Church from 1854 to 1879.'
Compiled by T.J. Hasty.
On the 22nd of April, 1854, a little band of immigrants arrived in this place from the State of Ohio. Among them were Bro. J.C. PORTER and wife, Bro. JOHN GARDNER and wife, Bro. JOHN W. GARDNER and wife, and Bro. WILSON GARDNER and wife, who were members of the church and some others who afterwards became members.

There were already a few members here and as soon as it was generally known that Bro. PORTER was a preacher, arrangements were made to have preaching. The first meeting was held in a log school house which stood on the lots now occupied by the Caster block. In about six months after the first meeting, on the first Lord's day in June, 1854, twenty-five years ago today, these brethren came together to organize a congregation to be built upon the rock, Jesus Christ, and to be known as the Christian Church or the Church of Christ.

The meeting for organization was held in what was known as "The old Court House," (though it never belonged to the county) stand now occupied by the residence of Mr. Forgrave. The next place of meeting was in an old school house then standing in the eastern part of town, not far from Mr. Varga's present residence. After meeting there for a time the congregation removed to the "Old Court House" then standing upon the ground now occupied by the Union block. They held their meetings there until the building was, by county officers, adjudged unsafe for large audiences and the brethren were again compelled to move to a store building belonging to Bro. JOHN W. GARDNER and his partner and which now forms a part of the "Haskett House."

Sometime previous to this the congregation had made an attempt to build a house of worship. They had begun a frame building in the northwest part of town, near the northeast corner of Mr. Close's property, but hard times setting in and realizing that a mistake had been made in the selection of a location, they abandoned the project.

In consequence of this last removal the brethren went to work in earnest to build the chapel in which we are now assembled. Bros. JOHN KIRKPATRICK, A. MILES and SAMUEL CASTER were appointed a building committee. Bro. KIRKPATRICK superintended the erection of the building and Bro. CASTER took charge of the making and hauling of the brick giving freely of both his time and means for the advancement of work, and I think I am safe in asserting that if to any one person more than another where all worked to the extent of their abilities, a tribute of praise is due, that that person is Bro. CASTER.

Work was commenced on the building March 6, 1866, and the first discourse was preached in it July 30, 1867, although it was not plastered and finished until the fall of 1878. The occasion of this discourse was the funeral of sister GARDNER, mother of JOHN W. and W.A. GARDNER, Sister J.C. PORTER and others in this vicinity. She had taken such a deep interest in the erection of the building, that, although the chapel was scarcely in a fit condition to be used, the services were held here. They were conducted by Bro. J.C. PORTER.

But now we must state something of the work of the church. Twenty-three persons entered into this organization and were enrolled as charter members. Of this number seven are still members, five have gone to their reward and eleven are scattered. In the organization Bro. J.C. PORTER and JOHN GARDNER were appointed the elders, Bros. JOHN W. GARDNER and WM. ELLIS, deacons. Others, who in the history of the congregation who have held or now hold the office of elder, are Bros. WM. A. GARDNER, GEO. W. BAKER, ---- DAWSON, THOS. ARTT, L.N. JUDD, JOHN KIRKPATRICK, J.R. MCCLELLAND, G.D. SELLERS and T.J. HASTY. Other deacons are Bros. J.B. LUNBECK, J.A. SNYDER, JOS. FREDERICK, ORANGE HOWARD, ELI FREEMAN, HENRY WALTON, JOHN KIRKPATRICK, W.J. DARR, WM. HOWARD and W.L. HEBENER.

The first protracted meeting was held in '54 and resulted in six additions. Many other meetings have been held since then resulting in numerous accessions to the church. While their hearts have been caused to rejoice frequently by seeing sinners turn to the Savior, they have sometimes been caused to mourn by seeing some, who started in the race, and ran well for a season, fall by the wayside.

Bro. PORTER did nearly all the preaching for the congregation for the first 18 or 20 years, though he was at different times assisted by Bros. John Polly, W.B. Fisk, G.E. Brown, J.C. Sevey, and possibly others. These brethren generally assisted in protracted meetings. During the time Bro. PORTER was preaching for this congregation, though never employed by it for more than half his time, many were added to the church. We never had employed a preacher for more than half his time until Bro. A.B. Cornell came among us a little over a year ago.

According to the records which were not always accurately kept, the whole number of persons who have been members of the congregation is 471. Of this number, 146 are now members, 98 have been dismissed by letter, 38 have died while members of the church, 15 have withdrawn and of the remaining 175, many have removed to other parts of the country without asking for letters; some have united with other religious bodies and others have forgotten their love for the church and neglected their house of worship. The greatest number of additions in any one year was in 1874 when 74 united with the church.

As stated before until within the past four or five years, Bro. PORTER did most of the preaching for the congregation and proved himself an efficient teacher, Rightly Divining the Word of Truth." One year ago last January Bro. A.B. Cornell began his work here and since then has labored zealously with us in the "Master's Vineyard." He was welcomed among us with more than usual warmth from the fact that his father had been with us but a short time previous, and won a place in our affections by his able discourse, gentlemanly manners and Christian deportment. Of Bro. Cornell's ability it is unnecessary for us to speak.

During his labors 34 have been added to the church. Of these three or four have proven themselves unworthy. In addition to the regular Lord's Day service and Wednesday evening prayer meetings, regularly on Tuesday evening of each week the young sisters of the church have held prayer meetings. We would commend this example to others.

Brethren, in making this imperfect review of the past history of the church we find many things to encourage us, others from which we should take warning. Let us heed well the lessons to be learned and go forward in the good work, taking courage from the successor of our predecessors and trying to avoid the rocks upon which they sometimes struck. Let us never lay aside the Christian armor; but "Let us lay aside every weight and the sin that doth so easily beset us; looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith for who the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame and set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Christian Church, Erected 1867
'History of the Church from 1879 to 1904'
Compiled by Mrs. Anna Curry.
Taking up the history of this church at its 26th anniversary, that is, the first Sunday in June, 1879, with Bro. A.B. Cornell as Pastor, we will try to give you something of its history for the next 25 years which brings us down to the present time and to the celebration of the golden anniversary of this organization.

The history of the last 25 years may not be as varied as has been that of the first, for generally the struggle, the great effort that must be put forth by almost any organization, is at its beginning, and to this we think perhaps the church was no exception. And while in this great work there are perhaps, comparatively speaking, only a few of the present membership that know what this signifies, yet there are still living and among us as members of this congregation, some of the older ones who have been through almost the entire church history of this people, such as Grandma KIRKPATRICK, Grandma HOWARD, Uncle WM. GARDNER, MR. and MRS. W.J. DARR, MR. and MRS. A.F. KEMP and perhaps others who might here be mentioned. Then there are still living here and who have membership with the congregation two of the charter members, MRS. AMANDA MCCLELLAND and MR. JOHN W. GARDNER. These two for fifty years have been interested in the work of this congregation. For this period of time they have been permitted to rejoice in its successes, and also have they been cast down over its failures. But these two are not all of the charter members still living. There are MRS. J.C. PORTER of Norwalk, Cal., MRS. ANN PORTER, of Garfield, Oregon, MRS. CATHARINE GARDNER, of Decatur City, and possibly others of whom we have lost track. But were we able, (which we are not) time would not permit us to mention the entire membership of 471 members of the first 25 years, saying nothing of those added during the last 25 years.

But to go back to the 25th anniversary with Bro. A.B. Cornell as Pastor, there are some things we would note. His stay of something over three years among us seems to have been especially memorable; for the work along certain lines and one of these was the organization of new forces to help carry on this work. Among these may be mentioned the Aid Society, the C.W.B.M. and the Young Ladies' Prayer meeting. The Aid Society has been an active worker and a strength to the church here. Its especial work has been along the line of finance. I cannot tell the amount of work for I do not know. But MISS BELLE THOMPSON has been president of this society for the last eight years and during the time she has filled the office has been awake to the opportunities that have presented themselves, and up to the present time there has been over $1,300 paid out by the society.

And it was during the work of Bro. and Sister Cornell that the C.W.B.M. was organized and started in the work which they have done and are still doing. To speak of this in detail will be unnecessary as only a short time ago a splendid paper was read here, written by MRS. JOHN CHASTAIN, telling us of the work done and some of the ways in which this work was done, such as missionary quilts, missionary jugs, socials and some other ways. Up to the present there has been over $800 paid out by this society, and the finance has only been a small part of their work, for at each meeting there is a programme' the thought of which is to bring them into closer relationship with their Master, and to give them a better knowledge of the work done, and to be done, and to devise ways and means by which this work may be done. Perhaps there has been no time in the history of this organization that it has done any better work than it is doing now.

Another organization formed during Bro. Cornell's stay among us was the Young Ladies' Prayer Meeting, organized about March or April, 1877, to meet Tuesday evening of each week. This was for the purpose of filling a long-felt want in the church, that of bringing the young people into more active work in the church, and I think it was only a step in the direction of the more complete work that we now have in the Endeavor societies, which at that time had not been organized. At our first meeting with Sister ESTHER SANGER there were five present, viz: ESTHER SANGER, ADA and EVA KIRKPATRICK, ELLEN GAMMON and myself. But our number increased until we numbered into the twenties and there are several here today that were members of those meetings. This was quite an undertaking for those who had not been trained along this line but one great source of help were the letters of instruction and encouragement we received from our pastor and his wife who was as willing a worker as himself, and were it not for the want of time I would read you one of these that you might know something of their interest.

Following Bro. Cornell was Bro. Hedrix, of Allerton. He preached here half of the time for a year, but was not located here. He was a man of ability and labored for the upbuilding of the cause. Next I think was Bro. H.A. Lemon. He was a young man, located here and had the work in charge for all the time during the three years he was with us. Then came Bro. W.E. Jones. He was here probably in '90 or '91, and I think it was during his or Bro. Lemon's work that the Senior Endeavor was organized, and that work is still carried on. Following Jones was O. Ebert. In '93 we were without a pastor and in '94 Bro. Major had the work in charge. He in his work here was greatly aided by his wife, she being an untiring helper in the cause. She was a member of the C.W.B.M. and it was largely due to her efforts that the Junior Endeavor was organized and started in the grand work which they have done. Bro. Major was succeeded by Bro. J.C. Jesse who came to us from Missouri, preaching here only half of the time. He in turn was followed by C.F. Stevens, who was an earnest young man. Next H.T. Clark who was here but a short time to be succeeded by R.J. Caster, who was a studious and earnest worker for the good of the cause to which he was giving his time.

This brings us to the beginning of the work with our present pastor, Bro. H.H. Hubbell. But before we note the work of the last two years there is one more organization that should be spoken of that goes hand in hand with our church work and without which this history would be very incomplete. This is our Sunday School. It was organized during the early years of the church and has come down most of these fifty years by its side. It is one of the great sources if not the greatest source of its strength. Here let me give you as complete a list as I can of the Sunday School superintendents, officers of the church and some of the present officers of the other organizations connected with the church work. As superintendents of the Sunday School during the past 25 years there may be named, T.J. HASTY, A.F. KEMP, EVA KIRKPATRICK, J.M. CHASTAIN, ESTHER SANGER, BURGESS GARRETT, J.D. WILLIAMS, C.M. KETCHAM and H.H. HUBBELL. As elders there were DR. MCCLELLAND, W.A. GARDNER, L.W. HEBENER, JOHN KIRKPATRICK, A.F. KEMP, T.J. HASTY, J.M. CHASTAIN, S.E. GARDNER, J.A. HARRIS, C.M. KETCHAM and J.K. WILLIAMSON. As deacons: O.W. HOWARD, W.J. DARR, T.J. LOWE, S. MILLER, WM. HOWARD, A.F. KEMP, J.M. CHASTAIN, S.E. GARDNER, J.D. WILLIAMS, M. OSBORNE, W.A. BOONE, J.G. EARLY, J.A. HARRIS, J.T. HARRIS, C.M. KETCHAM and J.M. CASTER. President of the C.W.B.M., MRS. OLIVE CASTER; secretary and treasurer, MRS. RUBY ELLINWOOD; president Senior Endeavor, MRS. VERA HUBBELL; president Intermediate Junior, WIN MATSLER; superintendents, MAY CASTER and MRS. FOXWORTHY; president Junior, GRACE GHORMLEY; superintendent, MAMIE LANE.

As to the work of the last two years it is necessary to say but little as with that you are familiar, and I think fully realize that to accomplish what has been done and to put the work in the condition that it now is, it has not only taken an efficient leader, which we found in our pastor, but also a church board diligent and awake to their responsibilities, assisted by the entire congregation putting a willing effort into the work, and also aided by sister churches and individual friends who have kindly come to our rescue. But with all that we have accomplished let us not console ourselves with the thought that there is any more time for inactivity or idleness than before, as we know during the first 25 years the work was not all done. No more has it all been finished during the 25 years of which today is the close. But we have succeeded in at least doing in some measure what our hands found to do, and so it will be for the next twenty-five, fifty or seventy-five years, or whatever time is given. While time lasts there will be the work of the hour to be done by those who are given the opportunity and the power, and are willing to make use of the same. May we realize this to the extent that it will awake and arouse us to put forth such an effort that when the time comes that our work is done, (may it be soon or late) that we with the Apostle of old may be able to say, "I have finished the course, I have fought a good fight; I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give. And not for me only, but for all those who love his appearing."

The End.....

Copied by Nancee (McMurtrey) Seifert, May 27 - 29, 2003
Second Christian Church                                                                                        Photograph Courtesy of Decatur County Historical Museum

Christian Church, Leon IA, courtesy of Sharon R. Becker, September of 2013      Christian Church, Leon IA, courtesy of Rodger Gatton, July 2016

The stained glass windows and the bell have been salvaged and moved to Trinity Christian Church located west of Leon along Highway 2.

Photographs courtesy of Rodger Gatton, July of 2015 
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