Sunday afternoon, September 8, 1968, a planning meeting was held at the State Savings and Loan, corner of Schrock and State Streets. From this meeting came the decision that there was enough support to move ahead with plans to start a Church of Christ in the Westerville area. The fellowship started by holding weekly prayer and Bible study meetings in homes.
On October 2, 1968, a statement of purpose was adopted by the fellowship including an incorporated name of the Westerville Church of Christ. At a Wednesday evening service, October 9, 1968, there was a unanimous vote to call Donald Miller as our part time evangelist. October 15, 1968, we were officially incorporated as the Westerville Church of Christ.
The first Lord’s Day service of the Westerville Church of Christ was held at the Jaycee swimming pool hall, 200 S. Otterbein Avenue on October 13, 1968. Brother Hugh Snepp preached the first sermon. There were 59 in attendance. Brother Ken Huff preached the next two Sundays and Brother Don Miller preached for the first time on Sunday, November 3, 1968.
An Early History of Westerville Christian Church (1968 to 1977)
by Bill Burton
We were first incorporated as Westerville Church of Christ and we met under that name for several years.
It was probably late August, 1968, when Jim Greenwood’s suggested to Ruby and me that it was time to consider establishing a new church in Westerville. Jim thought that Donald Miller could be our preacher. We responded with enthusiasm and discussed the possibilities with several folk at Beechwold. After much discussion and prayer, we decided to hold an interest meeting; I called the editor of the Westerville Public Opinion and he ran an article on the front page announcing our meeting. Our first meeting was in the basement of the Huntington bank on South State St., on the afternoon of September 8, 1968; about 50 people attended and responded enthusiastically to planting a Christian Church in the area. We conducted prayer meetings on Wednesday PM throughout the month.
Several families attending Beechwold who lived in Westerville: Bailey’s, Burton’s, Davidson’s, Frum’s, Howe’s, Kegley’s, Light’s, Roberts’. Schubert’s, Vernon’s, Williams’. We were joined by families from Northeast: Hibbitt’s, Martin’s; Linden: Fisher’s; Minerva Park: Fulwider’s, Indianola: Eagle’s.
Our first Sunday worship service, October 13, 1968 with Hugh Snepp preaching our first two services at the JayCee Swimming Pool on Otterbein Ave. Fifty-nine folk attended that first service. Ken Huff preached the following Sunday. It was rather cramped but we held Bible School classes as well as worship, both mornings and evenings. Attendance ran between 45 and 60.
The charter roll opened on 11/3/1968, after Don Miller was introduced as our “permanent” minister, and we welcomed members to the congregation. It was a great Sunday. The charter roll of 54 members was closed on February 2, 1969.
Christmas Eve, 1968, was a special time as we met at the Swimming Pool and enjoyed songs and fellowship as we celebrated the birth of our Lord. We announced that our meeting place would move to the Westerville Grange Hall on E. College Avenue. It would afford us more space and classrooms to meet in. While we met there we purchased the original building site just east of the Grange Hall. We later moved to Walnut Springs Junior High to provide space for growth and classes.
Early on we established our Constitution and By Laws to govern how we would operate as a Christian Church. We elected elders, deacons, and trustees and established a monthly men’s meeting to conduct the business of the church. The women met monthly as well for fellowship and plan how they would function within the church. Various ministries were organized to address specific areas or service: Worship, Missions, Youth, Education, Finance, and so on. Bible School classes and youth groups were formed to teach God’s Word.
We called Donald Miller as our first preaching minister. He served for over two years when he decided, along with the elders, that it was time to hire a full-time minister. After a rather extensive search, we called Ken Mulpas to the ministry of Westerville Church of Christ. Ken served with us for almost six years. He moved to the Kenmore church in Akron and after an exhaustive search, we called Thomas Allen Smith to the preaching ministry at Westerville.
As mentioned above, we purchased property on E. College Avenue for our first building. We contacted Goodman Church Builders and they provided a workable plan for us. We obtained funding for the building from Park Federal; Savings and Loan, the Hunt Fund and several personal loans, including a $25,000 loan from David Thompson. The building was completed in 1974 and we had a dedication service in April of that year. The congregation continued to grow as we occupied the new facility which had multiple classrooms and a great auditorium that seated over 200 people.
God was good to us as we grew.