First Christian plays a vital role

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 10, 2005

With more than 100 years of commitment and service to the community, the First Christian Church of Demopolis continues to play a vital role in the spiritual needs of many area residents.

Marshall Murphy has been pastor of First Christian for less than a year. He came to Demopolis in June after finishing his master’s degree at Louisville Bible College.

Since his arrival, congregation numbers have increased, and he has high hopes for the coming year.

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“Our goal by the end of 2006 is to have 80 to 100 in Sunday service,” Murphy said.

Numbers have definitely fluctuated over the years. The first plans for a Christian Church in Demopolis came about in 1903 when T.M. Culpepper, J.G. Chisholm and L.W. Spalding organized regular Sunday School and communion services in their homes.

While their membership was small, the First Christian founders were diligent. One of the earliest attendance records indicate that 11 people were present at services in 1914. Membership peaked in 1967 at 80.

Over the first 24 years, services were held in various places throughout Demopolis-members’ homes, other churches, City Hall and in rented buildings around town. A church was built and dedicated in 1927, and that original building is still in use today.

Additions have been made throughout the years. The first was the addition of the educational unit in 1954. By 1973, a Fellowship Hall, two Sunday School classrooms, a kitchen, two bathrooms and a choir robe closet were added.

Ministers have come and gone over the years, but the first permanent pastor of First Christian was J.A. Lee. From 1914 until 1954, Lee preached one Sunday each month.

No preacher stayed at First Christian longer than Lee. Others include Claude Shumate, Charles Myhand, C.H. Stewart, Tom Hale, Bill Bagby, David Wilson, Cecil Buffalow, Jim Bliffen, Jim Joiner, Murray Strange, Allen Noble, Craig Hughes, Mike McGinnis, Rick Messer and Josh Head.

First Christian’s current activities include weekly Sunday School, with New Testament Class, led by Chuck Reynolds and Haywood Mayton; Purpose-Driven Life, led by JoAnn Baker; Youth Bible Study, led by Johnny Johnston; and Senior Bible Study, led by A.C. Reffett.

Beginning Oct. 16, First Christian will hold the Andy Griffith Bible Study Series, using religious parables from various episodes to teach about the Bible.

Murphy plans to stay in Demopolis indefinitely. He said he and his wife, Kristie, were instantly welcomed by the community.