And now you know: a brief history of the early Christian church – Orange Leader
The First Christian Church of Orange is part of the denomination Disciples of Christ. Orange Church was founded by 10 members in 1885.
For nine years the church has met in various locations, primarily in members’ homes. The church was officially organized in 1894 by the Reverend JC Mason. The first meeting of the “new” church was held at the Orange County courthouse.
A deed written on December 26, 1894 and filed on December 28, 1894 shows that James B. and his wife Sallie Sargent purchased from HC Hucker and his wife, Annette Lot No. 7. Block 3 located at the corner of Ninth and Main Streets d ‘Orange. The property was donated for the construction of a church building.
In 1895, a small wood-frame church was built on the property. In 1919, a two-storey presbytery was built behind the church. In 1922, the church was remodeled and the entrance was moved to an opening on the porch on the north side of the building.
During Reverend John O’Keefe’s ministry (1943-1946), lots east of the church on Main Street were purchased for use in the Sunday School expansion.
The congregation was growing and a new sanctuary was needed. The land for the new building was purchased at the corner of Ninth and Cypress streets. Due to the untimely death of Reverend O’Keefe, plans for the new church were stalled.
When Reverend Ben Turpin became minister, plans for the new church were restarted.
Coleman and Rolfe was selected as architects and G. Sarge was the contractor for the construction. The new structure was completed and inaugurated on March 28, 1954.
Reverend Turpin resigned in 1957 and Reverend Robert Deal, the naval base chaplain, became acting pastor. In 1958, the church called in Rev. JR Johnson to serve as pastor.
In September 1959, a building committee was formed and began making plans for an additional structure. In 1960, funding had been arranged by the Board of Church Extension in Indianapolis, a Disciples’ loan agency.
The new structure, an educational building was completed and consecrated on December 18, 1960.
In 1973, an additional property was purchased for a trading hall. The new hall was opened in December 1974. It was named Keown Hall in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Alvin Keown. The hall was destroyed by fire in 1981 and a new hall was built and inaugurated the following September.
The highlight of the church is the large stained glass window depicting Jesus standing with outstretched arms. It is an icon for the members of the church. It was donated by Mr. and Mrs. George Craft. The story behind the donation is that Etta Craft told her husband that she wanted to donate the window. At that time, $ 1,000 was a considerable amount of money. However, George agreed even though the gift took all their savings.
First Christian Church has always been a congregation that supported local charitable efforts. They have supported Orange Christian Services and Friends Helping Friends as well as Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) ministries at regional and national levels.
The congregation is part of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Coastal Plains region and supports the Gonzales, Texas Children’s Campground. Many young people from Orange took part.
The church has participated in joint vacation Bible schools with the First Presbyterian Church and the First United Methodist Church, both of Orange.
First Christian Church of Orange has a 136-year history of serving members of its congregation and the Orange community.
And now you know.