The Murray Street Church of Christ celebrates its 20th anniversary next year in its present building, but the congregation points to over a half-century of history in the Rockdale area.
World War I was barely past and the community - - like the rest of the nation - - was enjoying the “good times” when the Church of Christ was born here.
Newcomers Walter Dean and wife moved to town in 1922 and promptly set out in search for Church of Christ brethren. They joined in fellowship with Mr. & Mrs. Jim Cherry and daughter, Mr. & Mrs. Walter Sikes and daughter and Mrs. Billy Smith, and it wasn’t long until they arranged to hold regular services in a primary school on the present-day site of Richards Clinic and Hospital on North Main.
With the nucleus formed and enthusiasm high, the small congregation struck out with fervor to worship God and generate community-wide awareness of Rockdale’s first Church of Christ. Growth followed, triggering a series of moves over the ensuing years for larger, more accommodating quarters.
The first was the upstairs portion of City Hall and then to the Peace Lutheran Church building for evening services. For a short time in the early thirties, the congregation met with its brethren at Sandy Creek. They returned to town when a Presbyterian Church building was vacated on San Gabriel Street. That arrangement lasted until the Lutherans purchased the building.
By that time well on its way, the Rockdale congregation bough its first permanent home - - the former Peace Lutheran Church building on the corner of Wilcox and West Belton streets - - and hired its first regular minister, Howard Mitchell. The was in the early 1940s. Until that time, members and visiting evangelists handled preaching and primary teaching duties.
In reflection, the congregation credits the dedicated efforts of Walter Dean, Rufus King, Will Burrough “and some faithful women” for the leadership that kept the group together during the hard depression years.
Ministers following Mitchell were Elmer Irby who came here in the mid-forties; Claude Clark from 1950 to October 1952; McCurin Harwell from Nov. 4, 1952 through July 1956; Howard White from August 1956 through August 1957; Lewis Hogue from September 1957 to December 1957; Milton Pogue from February 1, 1958 through August 1961; Charles Gibson from September 1961 through June 1963; Flavil Yeakley, Sr. from October 1, 1963 through June 1966; Milton Pogue again returned form July 1966 through July 1970; Maurice Ethridge from August 1970 to September 1, 1972; and the present Minister, George Hall who came November 22, 1972.
Shortly after big industry came to the area, the congregation - - like the rest of the community - - was caught up with “growing pains” and started planning a new building. The building committee was made up of the three Elders serving at the time, namely; Walter Dean, W. E. Boyd and Henry Ellison. McCuring Hawell was serving as Preacher at that time. It became a reality in 1955 when construction was completed on a new meeting place at the corner of Murray and Childress Streets. The old building was sold to the Grace Lutheran Church.
Today, the congregation numbers close to 200 with a budget of $940.00 weekly and financial support going to missionary work in Hong Kong, Rhodesia, Africa, Malta and the New England state of New Hampshire.
The Murray Street congregation is one of 15,000 churches of Christ, with a membership exceeding 1.7 million and 6,500 men who preach publicly.
”Like brethren around the world, our local plea is for religious unity based upon the Bible,” says the Elders. “In a divided religious society, we believe the Bible is the only possible common denominator upon which most, if not all, God-fearing people can unit. Ours is an appeal to go back to the Bible, speaking where the Bible speaks and remaining silent where the Bible is silent in all matters pertaining to religion.”
”Our objective is religious unity of all believers in Christ, with the basis being the New Testament. Our method is the restoration of New Testament Christianity.”
Created on 19 Mar 2004 and last revised on 25 Mar 2004