Hindsboro Christian Church (1878 – Present)
In the 1800’s churches played a major role in the social, as well as religious, lives of the people, especially in rural America. There were varying thoughts and differences ascribed to different church groups and faiths and they frequently held debates, which drew huge crowds of people to hear fiery preachers spark the crowds with their ideas on such issues as baptism.
It was just such a debate on religion that led to the formation of the Hindsboro Christian Church. Elder Harmon Gregg (1831-1915) who came up from Edgar County, was a proponent of immersion as baptism and was a well known and well thought of young preacher of the Christian faith. He debated the issue of immersion as baptism with a denominational minister on what was then the John Gharst farm (later known as the Keith Dague place) north of Hindsboro. The story goes that the debate grew so heated that it ended in a “scrap.” Afterwards, Abraham Frye Van Voorhis, another local farmer, invited Harmon Gregg to come a little east to the Deer Creek School House to preach. This congenial meeting resulted in about 20 members, who organized as a church on November 30, 1863 during a time when our Nation was involved in a Civil War. They continued to meet in the schoolhouse or in private homes, until a church building was erected in 1866. Two of the first preachers were Jesse Campbell and Nathan Wright. Other early notable preachers were Elder Joseph Hostetler (1797-1870) known as “The Boy Preacher” and Elder Thomas Goodman (1808-1887) who preached at the funeral of Thomas Lincoln, father of the martyred President Abraham Lincoln, in 1851.
Later, as Hindsboro was platted and prospered with the coming of the railroad, it was decided to move the congregation into town. The church was organized on August 18, 1878 in Hindsboro, and the Sunday School became a part of the church program at the same time. In 1879 the first chapel was built in town, under the direction of Brother Humphrey, who was also a carpenter and did much of the work himself This white frame building was dedicated in 1880. It was erected on land donated by Francis Marion “Frank” Hinds, the founder of the village, with the stipulation, that if there were ever no church, then the land would revert back to his heirs. The building faced the west and had two front doors. Latecomers and early leavers were in direct view of the whole congregation. Women sat on the north side and men sat on the south side. There were two wood stoves, one on each side.
The June 11, 1909 edition of “The Hindsboro News” announced in their headlines, that, “The Official Board of the Christian Church now Preparing Plans for Improvement of Their Church.” At the time they were planning to make about $5000.00 worth of improvements, which included putting in a new basement under the existing building. Rev. J. S. Rose and an appointed building committee (Andrew R. Frantz, Emory B. Bradford, and Peter Cooper Eversole) were paving the way and had already collected funds. It is understood that the plans were changed somewhat and the frame chapel building was moved rather than remodeled, and a totally new church building was built instead, on the old Hinds property. The old, white frame church building was later used by the Primitive Baptist Church in Hindsboro.
The new Hindsboro Christian Church was made of red brick and had a seating capacity of about 500. It was considered very modern and boasted of an improved heating system, gaslights and a built in baptistery. Previously, new members were usually baptized in the Embarrass River near the Barnett Bridge, sometimes with a hole cut into the ice for that purpose.
Off the main auditorium and connected by large rolling wooden doors that could be raised and lowered (so as to make the whole building one room) were three Sunday School rooms. The basement was also “finished up nicely” and could be used for “entertainments, suppers, and other purposes as desired.” The church furniture was golden oak and there were many beautiful stained glass windows. It was reported that the Ladies’ Aid Society contributed $1,000.00 of the $8,000.00 total cost and that Abraham Frye “Abe” Van Voorhis donated the majority of the $800.00 to the Young Ladies Aid Society for the baby grand piano. On July 31, 1910, according to “The Hindsboro News,” the new building was dedicated with three largely attended services in the one day, one at 11:00, one at 2:30, and the final one at 7:30 in the evening. W. C. Watson, who was the Treasurer and pianist at that time, reported that all indebtedness had been cared for.
For many years the church did not include a parsonage, but in 1947 a small house on Main (now Missouri) Street was purchased for that purpose. Gifford Tebbs was the first preacher to live there. Later in 1954, a new parsonage was built in the lot just north of the church. In 1964 work began to remodel the basement of the church and the coal furnace was taken out and gas furnaces were installed. In August of 1965 the old coal room was cleaned out and fixed up with a kitchen built along the east wall. In 1967, John Kenny of Camargo made cabinets and installed them in the kitchen. In 1981 the church pews were padded. In 1986-87 the new restrooms were built on the northeast side of the church building.
The Church Messenger” of 1950 states: “Several advances have been made, that even though they are physical in their nature, are indicative of spiritual growth.” Hopefully the church can continue on in the same building for many more years, mindful of the Christian Heritage of the people that this building has witnessed for over one hundred years.
Compiled by David Kent Coy (from the text written for the 100th Anniversary Celebration of the current building – 2009)