In the fall of 1871, James Huston Irvin and his family came to Kansas from Clay County, Illinois. He said that Winfield was “a little village of about 250 inhabitants”. He met Bro. W.H.H. Harris and inquired about other members of the Church of Christ. He was told that there were three families from Ill. That had moved into this area. His first night here he was shown a place to camp just west of Island Park. The next day he went out to locate these Christians from Ill., and to stake a claim. He homestedded a place one and a quarter miles north of New Salem. Bro. Irvin was instrumental in establishing several congregations in Cowley County and at least one in eastern Sumner County.
In the fall of 1872, he was asked to help start a congregation in Winfield. Their first meeting was in a store building on North Main Street.. There were six in attendance, including two from Arkansas City. They continued to meet there for some time
They homesteaded and later the Baptist “tendered the use of their House” for a gospel meeting and until they had built a small frame house on the southwest corner of Millington and 13th. The first seating was cracker boxes with 2”x 8” ’s laid across them. The pulpit was a boot and shoe box set on end.
Bro. H.D. Gans, who was elected Probate Judge, moved to Winfield. He was very interested in the Church in Winfield and provided much support and leadership. Several years later, after he had left for the west, he was in an accident involving a buggy and a “runaway” team of horses and was killed.
A small brick building was built on the southwest corner of Millington and 8th St. Irvin tells of the Sunday evening service that he was attending “and when time came to commence meeting, behold, a man stepped out, pulled the organ out of the corner, and a lady that was not even a member of any church took her seat and commenced playing.” This was the point of division between the Church of Christ and the Christian Church. Being unable to reconcile this difference, the members who could not accept the organ begin meeting in homes. The T.R. Oliverson family opened their home at 716 East 5th for the church to meet in for about two years. When the attendance exceeded the room available in Oliverson’s home, they were given permission to meet in the city building for a while and later met in the court house.
They had sold the small frame building at Millington and 13th to the United Brethren. This building was purchased and mover to a lot that was leased for 5 years. The Brethren from Kellogg helped them move it and fix it up and they met there until the lease expired. A lot was purchased from Dr. .J. Hayden at the Southwest Corner of Andrews and 7th. Minutes from a business meeting dated Oct 6, 1898 says they paid $117.50 to $125.00 for the lot. The little frame building was moved again to this lot and was used until it became too small. It was moved the third time to the south end of the lot and a new brick building was erected. The Church met in this building for over 60 years.
In 1961 the Church purchased the Lutheran Church building at the northwest corner of Loomis and 8th. The addition of a baptistry, a study, and partitions for nine classrooms were completed and we began meeting there in September of 1961. The membership continued to grow until we filled the classrooms to capacity and more. Morris Funeral Home offered their building for additional classrooms and two classes met there for a while. In 1966 we began building a new classroom addition to the north side of and moved into it in 1967.
During the history of the Church, it has been served by Elders Henry Hawkins, P.E. Whitaker, J.H. Irvin, Calvin Strader, W.F. Parmeter, William Young, T.R. Oliverson, I.D. Moffitt, J.H. Richardson, Wm. H. Stoutimore, W.L. Yadon, C.E. Hodges, Geo. R. Blake, Thornton Dillman, Rollin Stewart, Kennith McFarland, S.T. Scrivner, Vern Leckliter, and Berwin King.
The local congregation is autonomous but cooperates with sister congregations in mission work, childrens homes, youth activities and benevolent work.
Submitted by Berwin King
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