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Finding Aid for the First Christian Church of Beaumont Records

First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Records

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Finding Aid for the First Christian Church of Beaumont Records, 1903-2013





Profile Description

Creation: 2013 August 05. Encoded in Exchanger XML Editor by Tyrrell Historical Library staff.

Descriptive Summary

Repository:Tyrrell Historical Library, Beaumont Public Libraries, 695 Pearl St, Beaumont, TX 77701
Creator:First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Title:First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Records
Dates:1903-2013
Extent:19 boxes
Abstract:Founded in 1894, the First Christian Church is a congregation for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) denomination. The records of the church include directories, committee minutes, papers on church doctrine, photographs, facility records, worship bulletins, records of Camp Wildurr, records of its Sunday School classes, treasurer's reports, and special anniversary and dedication programs.
Identification:AC-632
Language:Materials are in English.

Organization of Collection

This collection is organized into 13 series.

Scope and Content Note

The First Christian Church Records hold administrative and historical records of the church from approximately the early 1900s to 2013. Since the 1960s, the Church emphasized recording its own history, so there are multiple volumes of yearly histories of the church. These are especially valuable because they were written contemporaneously, by people who witnessed the events of a particular year and could ensure the accuracy of their histories. The Church has also produced several histories in honor of its anniversaries, which provide a long-term view of the Church's past.

The collection includes minutes of the church's Board of Trustees and financial papers. It also contains papers regarding the various church buildings used by the church, including their construction, renovations, and other special work projects performed on the buildings. The collection holds yearbooks from the Christian Women Fellowship, from the late 1940s to today. It also includes some minutes from the CWF, and from its predecessor, the Ladies Aid Society.

In 1916, the church began to support Cammie Gray, a "Living Link" missionary to China. It continued to support her until her retirement from missions work; then remained in touch with her until her death. The collections holds correspondence from Gray and her adopted daughter, Joy Ruth; photographs of their family, and correspondence and news bulletins from the Missionary Society regarding the safety of missionaries in China at the time of its Communist Revolution in 1949. It also includes a photocopy of Gray's published book, By Way of India: A Travel Journal, which was published in 1947 by the United Christian Missionary Society. This book describes Gray's journey from China to the United States in 1945, and goes into particular detail on her time spent in India while waiting for a ship transport back to the U.S. Gray visited multiple missionary stations across India and described her impressions and experiences in this book. It provides a limited, but unique, glimpse of India at the cusp of its independence, from the perspective of a Christian missionary.

The records also include minutes and photographs of its preschool program, along with records from its Sunday School classes. It contains photograph albums depicting Camp Wildurr, and some photographs and papers of the choir and music program in the 1950s, including records of the purchase of an organ for the church. Finally, the collection includes the study notes compiled by its pastor, Glenn Moore, during his time at Brite College of the Bible in the 1950s.


Historical Note

The First Christian Church in Beaumont, Texas, began in September 1894, when local area members of the Christian Church invited the State Evangelist, J. A. Bush of Dallas, to preach in Beaumont. The meeting was first held in the Temperance Hall on Pearl Street, but had such a high rate of attendance that it finished in the Fireman's Hall. The meeting lasted for two weeks, and by the end, twenty-six members were added to the fledgling church. Brother Lanehart agreed to preach once a month, and the Sunday School was also organized at this time. Lanehart served for about a year, and was replaced in 1896 by Elder LeMay.

The church held several revival meetings in the 1890s, gradually increasing its membership. It had used the city auditorium for its worship services, but soon found the need for a space of its own. In 1899, S. H. Van Wormer donated land on the corner of Wall and Jefferson Streets to the congregation. The Episcopal Church donated a frame building that was moved to this site, and so by 1900, the Christian Church had its first dedicated church building. This building served the church well for a few years, but the population boom in Beaumont, caused by the Spindletop oil rush, soon created a need for a larger church.

The Ladies Aid of First Christian raised a great deal of money for this purpose. They sold butcher aprons and baked goods, and held a special "industrial pageant" in Magnolia Park, which honored Beaumont's industrial and commercial ventures. Between the money raised by the Ladies Aid and the sale of the original plot of land at Wall and Jefferson, the church raised enough funds to purchase a lot at the corner of Magnolia and North. The new church building, which cost $25,000, was dedicated on June 1, 1905.

The church continued to grow, and established several missions across Beaumont, including the Ector Avenue Mission and the Park Street Church, which later became the Washington Boulevard Christian Church. In 1916, First Christian sent its first "Living Link Missionary", Miss Cammie Gray, to China. The church supported her work abroad until her retirement in 1956.

In 1953, First Christian played an important role in the establishment of Northwood Christian Church in Beaumont, as thirty-five First Christian members transferred their membership to Northwood to serve as a nucleus for the new congregation.

First Christian built a camp for youth, Camp Wildurr, in 1955. Built on 50 acres of land, the camp had a main lodge, ten screened cabins for campers, two concrete bath houses, a caretakers house, and facilities for outdoor games. The camp was dedicated on May 31, 1956, and was widely used the first summer. In 1959, the Camp was sold to Districts 12 and 13 of the Texas Association of Christian Churches. The Camp continued to be used by religious and civic groups until 1987, when it was sold to the Beaumont Independent School District in 1987 for use as an outdoor education center.

By 1957, First Christian recognized the need to build a new church in another location in Beaumont. Parking was scarce at its Magnolia and North location, and the area had become more commercial in nature. Thus, the church purchased 21 acres in the Perlstein Addition in Caldwood. The church later sold four acres, leaving it with seventeen acres. On April 23, 1961, the last service was held in the Magnolia-North church building. While construction on the new building was underway, the church met for worship in East Caldwood Elementary School. The new church was dedicated on August 5, 1962.

In 1968, Glenn F. Moore became pastor of First Christian. He remained at First Christian for thirty years, becoming its longest-serving pastor. In 1974, the Church offered a building on its ground for use by Alcoholics Anonymous. This ministry continues today.

In 2004, Brenda Warren became First Christian's first female pastor. The church has had nineteen pastors in its almost 120-year history.


Index Terms

Gray, Cammie, 1891-1965
Church of God Global Missions
First Christian Church (Beaumont, Tex.)
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Religious life
Beaumont (Tex.)
Histories
Ledgers (account books)
Magazines (periodicals)
Photographs
Scrapbooks
Yearbooks

Restrictions

Access Restrictions

Some restrictions may apply.

Copyright

The Tyrrell Historical Library holds copyright, with the exception of published items. Coypright for these items is retained by their respective publishers. The researcher must secure permission to publish. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to the Tyrrell Historical Library. The researcher assumes full responsibility for complying with copyright, literary property rights, and libel laws.


Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Item], [folder], [box], First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Beaumont, 1903-2013, AC-632, Tyrrell Historical Library, Beaumont, Texas.

Acquisition Information

Donated by the Board of Trustees of First Christian Church in 2013 July.

The First Christian Church may be contacted at: 5290 N. Caldwood Dr, Beaumont, TX 77707. Phone: (409)892-3213. Home Page: http://www.fccbmt.org

Processing Information

Processed by Tyrrell Historical Library staff, 2013 July.

Finding aid written and encoded by Tyrrell Historical Library staff, 2013 August.

Accruals

Further accruals are expected.


Related Material

First Baptist Church of Beaumont Records, 1876-2013, AC-630

Westminster Presbyterian Church Records, 1990-2011, AC-606


Separated Material

None.


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