October 16, 2011

1966- Present

In order to share with our members and friends a brief background of our congregation, this brief history is given. There was a need; there was a seed planted; and the Lord added a congregation of His church to this community.


On November 14, 1966, the ministers of the Churches of Christ and Christian Churches in this area met at O’Neil’s Restaurant to discuss plans to form a congregation in Watseka. Also attending this meeting were Mrs. Jim (Gayle) Yates, then a member of the Martinton Church of Christ, and Mrs. Forrest (Lillian) Sites, then a member of the Donovan Church of Christ. The speaker was Don Sharp, then minister of the Woodland Heights Church of Christ at Crawfordsville, Indiana. The need was evident. The seed was planted. The Lord began His work.


As there were several families living in Watseka who were driving to Martinton, Donovan, Sheldon, Pittwood, and Milford to attend services in Churches of Christ, plans were to start a church in Watseka.


The organizational meeting was held the following Sunday afternoon in the assembly room of the Watseka Public Library, with Don Sharp again the speaker.


At this meeting, a steering committee was elected as follows: Max Judy, Chairman; John Haberkorn; Donald Wolfe; Clifford Martin; and Lillian Sites.


Afternoon services were held the rest of the year with the ministers from the area speaking. Among them were Ron Culp, then serving the Friendswood Christian Church in Bourbonnais; Jim Kruse, then serving the Martinton Church of Christ; Loren Holt, then serving the Prairie Green Church of Christ; and Bob Kuest, then serving the Donovan Church of Christ.


Jim Kruse had been chosen to represent the area ministers to act in an advisory capacity. Omer Potts of Sheldon and Gerald Stuckey of Martinton had also been chosen to meet with the steering committee to represent the NCEF (New Church Evangelizing Fellowship) from which the new congregation would receive much of their financial support for the next several months.


The name “Centennial Christian Church” was suggested by the committee and accepted by the congregation, as this was Watseka’s centennial year.


On Sunday, January 1, 1967, morning and evening services were begun with Professor Wayne Shaw of Lincoln, Christian College leading the congregation. On this day the charter was opened with thirty-seven names on it that day. The charter was closed July 1, 1967, with fifty-eight names on it.


As the congregation grew, the need for facilities was supplied by the Lord through the purchasing of the beautiful building belonging to the Friends Church at 720 South Third Street for $75,000. Services began in this building the first Sunday in May, 1967.


Dedication of this building to the service of the Lord was Sunday afternoon, May 21, 1967, with Dr. Earl Hargrove of Lincoln Christian College and Seminary being the speaker.


In August of 1967, Jim Kruse was called to serve as full-time minister of the congregation. He served until August, 1971. Danny Miller of Rossville served as youth minister part of the time.


In September, 1971, M. J. Brown of Jamestown, Kentucky, came to minister to the congregation until August of 1973.


Mark Rosenbeger of Milford, who had been serving as youth minister then took over the duties of minister, serving until August of 1974.


Ron Newlin of Lincoln Christian College preached for the congregation until November of that year.


Frank Sloan of Cincinnati, Ohio was called to minister in November of 1975 and served through September of 1977.


In October of 1977, Cyril Simpkis of Lincoln Christian College served as an interim minister until September of 1978. At that time, Paul E. Peelman of Atlanta, Illinois was called to serve the congregation and did so until 1982.


Subsequently, Jack Campbell served as minister until June 1983 when Joe Hughes, from Rossville, Illinois, was called to minister,  Joe continues to be our current minister. 

The church mortgage was paid in full and a mortage burning celebration was held on October 23, 1988.


Ed Highfill of Milford, Illinois served as youth minister from May, 2004 to October, 2011.


A baptistery was built into the building the first year, the funds to do so being gifts from two mens groups of churches in the Decatur and Springfield areas.


A communion table and chairs were given in memory of deceased members. Communion sets were gifts from members of the Martinton and Donovan churches.


The sanctuary was carpeted and a new organ and piano purchased. Beautiful new front doors were a gift from a family in the congregation.  Later an elevator wing was added to the building and an elevator was installed.  Since then, a garage was also built on church property and vinyl fencing was purchased and now lines the south border of the church property.  The concrete parking lot was a gift from a family in the congregation.


As a young congregation, we have experienced many of the “valley and mountaintop experiences” which we have in the Lord. Due to the continued love, dedication, and giving of the congregation, we have developed into a church of the New Testament, which is our example.

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