FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH OF
ATCHISON, KANSAS 1955-1982
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
For material in this section we are indebted to
Dr. G. Harold Roberts, Rev. John Muncy, Mrs. Hazel Butler and Mrs. Eileen Price.
The Centennial Committee
Mr. and Mrs. Delbert Ehret
Mr. and Mrs. George Shuck
Mr. and Mrs. William Henderson
Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Price
Mrs. Wyatt Butler
Harold Roberts remained as pastor of the Atchison Church until September 1, 1971, completing a pastorate of twenty-four years. Some of the important events during the period from 1954 to 1971 are:
The remodeling of the fellowship hall.
The remodeling of the sanctuary, with emphasis on a new choir loft and worship center, and church school class rooms in the area adjoining the sanctuary and balcony.
The purchase of a new Reuter pipe organ.
The retirement of indebtedness on all church properties.
The building of a large parking lot adjacent to the church building financed, largely, through a gift from the estate of Gladys. Baumener.
The purchase of an excellent house at 211 N. 12th Street as parsonage.
The celebration of the 75th anniversary of the life of the church in May 1957. Former pastors Jesse M. Bader, Wallace R. Bacon. M. Owen Kellison, Roy P. Fields, Sr., and Loyal S. Northcott returned to speak. Their presence was a blessing and an inspiration to the church. Mrs. George Keltsch, greatly beloved, was honored as “church mother” of festivities. She held the longest continuous membership in the church.
The presentation of a play, written by the pastor, dealing with the founding of the Kansas Christian Missionary Society which took place in Atchison County at old Union Schoolhouse under the leadership of Pardee Butler. Atchison County is rich in historic significance for Disciples. It was in this county that the first sermon preached in Kansas by a Christian Church minister, Pardee Butler, took place.
The decision, by an overwhelming congregational vote, to adopt a policy of inclusive church membership, honoring the non-immersion baptism of believers (given the option of being immersed if they so desired) who wanted to unite with First Christian Church. This action was taken in the conviction that there is “equality of all Christians before God” and that closed membership is anachronistic in today’s ecumenism.
The ordination of Bennett W. Gerardy to the Christian ministry. (Bennett, with marked success, is now regional minister of the Central Rocky Mountain Area of Disciples).
The substantial legacy bequeathed to the church by Hugh McAdow which has enabled the church to do wonderful things for others. Hugh loved his mother, who was a faithful and influential member of this church to whom membership was precious, and he would be pleased by what his gift has made possible and the way in which it is used by the Atchison church.
The acting host church to the state Christian Ministers’ Institute and the Wives’ Association.
Increased participation in fellowship and programs interdenominationally, interracially and interfaith.
Harold Roberts was given valued assistance by Jerry Hohnbaum and Donald Case (both very talented musicians and directors of youth and education), and the continued outstanding service, to her death, of Miss Joyce Wentz, Ruth Krusemark, wonderful organist, and Mrs. John Sullivan, capable successor to Miss Wentz. Our choir has inspired us with its exceptional ability and consecration and given us a true ministry of sacred music. Bennett Gerardy did well as interim youth director. Secretaries Margaret Sachs, Dorothy Elliott and Alice Smart were efficient and gracious. Custodians Earl Van Liew and his wife Nettie, and Roy Cloves made an art of caring for church properties. Whenever loyal, harmonious, and competent staff labors exist, that congregation is blessed. The pastor gives much credit to his wife, Ruth, whom the congregation cherishes. He appreciates the title Harry Frantz gallantly gave her – “The Queen”.
(Give credit to ministers’ wives, please. Many a minister has been saved from acting unwisely in anger and haste by the calm counsel of a wife who has said: “Give a little more prayer, a little more patience, a little more time to this situation and all will be well.”)
When Mr. Roberts left Atchison, the church secured the interim services of the Reverend Thomas Bennett, veteran and able and gracious preacher. He served a year, doing much to hold the congregation on a steady and harmonious course.
Roy Price Fields, Jr. became pastor in September 1972, coming to Atchison from a pastorate in Denver, Colorado. Roy is the son of the Reverend and Mrs. Roy Price Fields, Sr. who served the Atchison Church (1935-38). Roy and his talented wife, Cherry, and talented children gave the Atchison Church vigorous and challenging ministries. Roy preached ably, handled structures efficiently, and kept always before the church that it must live in helpful relationship with brotherhood and interdenominational and ecumenical agencies. And, he averred forcefully, stewardship must be sacrificial. He is presently minister of First Christian Church of Cheyenne, Wyoming.
During his ministry the church redecorated and air-conditioned the fellowship hall, using money from the George and Alta Wolf legacy. The area has been re-named Wolf Memorial Hall.
Pews in the sanctuary have been cushioned.
Under his leadership, the deaconess of First Christian began serving memorial dinners for the families of a deceased member the day of the funeral. He has a special gift of comforting the bereaved. Dr. Fields instituted the Children’s sermon during Worship service. He cared about our shut-ins and started regular monthly shut-in calling by church members, particularly the deaconesses. He founded and taught the Seekers Class of young adults.
During his ministry, in 1976, a new constitution was drafted and accepted by the congregation. Mrs. Clem Tuggle was elected as the first woman elder.
John Muncy came to the Atchison pastorate in April 1977. He is a preacher of fine ability and has the shepherd’s heart as he serves his people. He has preached convincingly the mighty acts of God and he reminds his people that they cannot inherit the kingdom of God without love. He has a good program. He is a community servant. He and his charming wife, Gretchen, are a team and like the people they serve. John has been blessed in the associate ministry of Russell Winkler, to whom the Atchison Church gave ordination, and theirs has been a leadership of pronounced merit.
Russell Winkler came to the church as Associate Minister in August 1978. After three years of productive ministry in Atchison he resigned effective October 30, 1981. While he was with the church he appeared before the Committee on the Order of the Ministry of the Christian Church in Kansas. Upon the recommendation of the Committee, Russell Winkler was ordained in First Christian Church on January 13, 1980.
There have been a number of notable accomplishments since April of 1977. Some of them are mentioned here.
Probably the most important single accomplishment has been intangible. The Church, above all, must be the healing, redeeming fellowship. First Christian Church has always been that kind of congregation. But in the years since 1977, we feel that we have grown in that essential area.
This growth has been evidenced by the church’s use of funds that were received from the estate of Mr. Hugh McAdow in 1975. A committee chaired by George Shuck worked tirelessly on developing policies to govern the use of these funds. Initially one tenth of the funds were given away to religious, educational and humanitarian causes. The committee then worked with the Church Board in developing a questionnaire which was distributed to the congregation for the purpose of following the congregation’s will in the use of the funds.
Two overarching principles were adopted. First, the capital that existed would not be spent. Only the interest would be available. Second, these funds would not be spent on budgeted items of the church. From that point the various uses of these funds have been in compliance with the stated will of the congregation.
The trustees of the Church have had the responsibility of investing the funds and informing both the congregation and the Board as to monies received and spent. Mr. Lowell Dagenais should be mentioned with appreciation because of his excellent work in investing these funds, and keeping the Board informed as to the investments.
One tremendous result of all this has been the development of our present Outreach Department. Mr. Mike Shanks and Mr. Harry Frantz have been our two outreach chairmen since the McAdow funds were received, and both men have done wonderful work. First Christian Church presently has one of the outstanding Outreach Departments in our brotherhood. So many people, families and causes have been helped by the wise and compassionate use of these funds.
Another evidence of the church’s growth in being the healing, redeeming fellowship has been the development of a singles ministry. This work was begun by John Muncy and developed as a staff assignment by Russell Winkler. Many widowed and divorced people have turned to the group for undergirding as they have faced their own problems.
In 1980 the Church Board elected the first woman chairperson. Mrs. Sally Hayes served through that year very efficiently and very well. She worked tirelessly for the church and set a pattern for women who will follow her to emulate.
Under the able leadership of Miss Marta Strong, a children’s choir under the name, “The Youth Inspiration”, and Junior High Choir were established in 1978. Both of these choirs sing in the worship services every Sunday.
On October 18, 1981 the library was formally dedicated in loving memory of Terri and Bobby Hink. Terri and Bobby, Robert Hink, Jr.’s wife and son, were killed in an automobile accident.
Special mention here should also be made of the work of the J.O.Y. Class. The class and its friends have been sponsoring orphans for a number of years. From 1964 to 1978 a Korean girl, Cho Eun Sung, was sponsored. From 1978 to 1981, Do Ok Hwa, a Korean boy was sponsored by the class. At present Chaun Savanvong, a boy from Bangkok, Thailand is being sponsored. The class sends monthly checks, and a special check at Christmas for the child’s birthday. The money is channeled through the Christian Children’s Fund, Inc. of Richmond, Virginia. Class members also keep in touch with the children through letters.
The Atchison Church has always looked upon its children and youth with love and pride and Christian concern. They are our richest treasures. Church school classes for children and youth have done the great work of inculcating Christian values. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have been the recipients of the leadership of able and loving adults. Youth groups have had the best we could give in professional and lay leadership. It is impossible to name these leaders, so great in their number, but their endeavors are blessed by God and held dear in our memories. A strong program of ministry to children and youth keeps a church vital.
The Atchison Church has been blessed by its ministers. They have been men of ability and consecration. They have served the local church well, but they have also served the community. They have cooperated with other churches. They have believed in Christian unity. In turn, the Atchison Church has blessed its ministers. It has provided them with a spiritual climate conducive to growth and happiness and success. Let such blessed unity prevail in the new century!
And so First Christian Church, Atchison, Kansas has become one hundred years old! Happy Birthday! Ours is a goodly heritage. We can say, as does the Scripture, with deep sentiment and gratitude; – “We count them blessed who have endures.” They have kept the faith. Our task, our privilege, our destiny, depends upon keeping the faith. Blessings endure only as they are renewed. Past successes must be duplicated. In curious spiritual arithmetic, blessings can be multiplied only as they are divided. The new century stretches before us rich in its promises to a church determined not to rest on past laurels but to labor every day to be worthy as it serves under the judgment of God. One generation says to another: “Let Jesus Christ be praised!”
THE OFFICIARY IN 1982
Minister: John F. Muncy
Minister Emeritus: Dr. G. Harold Roberts
Board Leadership of 1982: Chairman, David Henry; Vice Chairman, Van Hurst; Secretary, Betty Henderson
Elders: Betty Dettmer, Elvin Jones, Isabel Eames, David Dettmer, Harry Mier, Glenn Lacy, Orean Hale, David Laurie, Robert Smith, George Shuck, Stanley Seever, Gene Underwood
Elders Emeritus: Rex Davis, Nathan Repstine, Harry Van Liew
Deacons: Frank Derr, Paul Barclay, Jeff Amthor, Derek Franklin, Darrell Blunk, Ray Bowman, Chris Hayes, Charles Erdley, Carl Dittemore, Alan Hays, Robert Ham, Harry Frantz, David Henry, Robert Hink, Jr., Calvin Gray, Homer Jackson, Charles Jones, Joe Price, Andrew Kurtz, Wm. Henderson, Dan Stanton, Joe Larson, Marvin Strong, Al Thompson, Gene Linscott, Floyd Sutton, Bill Chase, Sr., Roy Reid, Robert Shuck, Warren Pike, Jerry Botts, Van Hurst, Kenneth Smart, Steve Otte
Deacons Emeritus: Fred Duttweiler, Frank Leighton
Deaconesses: Kathleen Botts, Edna Barclay, Julie Christian, Carolyn Campbell, Marion Ehret, Mina Gray, Hilde Henry, Dorothy Ellis, Shirley Hale, Ruthanna Kew, Joan Erdley, Janie Hiner, Norma Kuhn, Bethel Hale, Florence Jones, Diana Moxley, Betty Henderson, Orveta Larson, Louise Pruett, Ann Jones, Eleanor Nash, Mary Shuck, Betty Linscott, Eileen Price, Janie Smart, Marilyn Seetin, Violet Pruett, Edith Smith, Kathy Sellers, Helen Otte, Betty Sue Thomas, Jeri Hurst, Lucille Rawson, Helen Hammond, Dorothy Schletzbaum, Margaret Stillings
Deaconesses Emeritus: Jane Fletcher
Trustees: Delbert Ehret, Mike Shanks, Sharon Rains
Interim C. E. Director: Shirley Pike
Elders: Gene Underwood Deacons: Derek Franklin
Deaconesses: Marilyn Seetin Worship: Wilbur Gilliland
Stewardship: Dave Laurie Outreach: Harry Frantz
Membership: Hilde Henry Property: Gary Moxley
Evangelism: Christian Education: Marion Ehret
OTHER DIRECTORS OF RELIGIOUS EDUCATION:
Karel Carstensen, Judy Harris, Kathy Moyer, Helen Cave, Elizabeth Woodward, Connie Cox
THE PRESENT CHURCH STAFF:
Senior Minister, John Muncy
Interim Director of Christian Education, Shirley Pike
Office Secretary, Rosie Kane
Organist & Choir Director, Ruth Krusemark
Custodian: Roy Cloves
Communion: Edith Cave
Nursery Attendant, Debbie Simpson
Treasurer, Etola Strong
A LONG TIME
One Hundred Years.
A long time of loving.
Of giving birth,
Of nurturing congregations,
Of placing man’s hand in God’s
“Whatever comes to you,
The best – – the worst,
There is a grace in God’s grasp
That will sustain and expand you.”
One Hundred Years.
A long time of building.
Of laying foundations,
Of forming bridges,
Of paving paths
“Wherever the roads of life lead you
As a race,
As a nation,
As a sex,
As a Disciple,
Remember the Prince of Peace
And build a peaceful kingdom”
One Hundred Years.
A long time of being.
Of being the Church,
Of being God’s people,
Of being Christ’s followers.
A long time.
But not long enough.
The church is a foreverness.
BY: SHIRLEY A. ASHFORD