MIDDLETOWN CHRISTIAN CHURCH
Our Church History
“The plea for a restoration of New Testament Christianity was proclaimed early in Missouri by pioneer preachers, generally emigrants from Kentucky.” Montgomery County, which was formed from St. Charles County in 1818, was fortunate in having these restoration gospel preachers come early to her soils.
Middletown was believed to be the oldest town in Montgomery County. The first home in Middletown proper was built by Charley Wells in 1817. The town was called West Fork in its early days and was considered the center of trade for the area. The post office was established as West Fork on July 11, 1833, but on January 24, 1837, the name was changed to Middletown. The name was derived from its location at the crossing of two roads. Middletown is approximately halfway between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.
The country was sparsely settled but people were moving in steadily. Sandy E. Jones, a licensed preacher, moved from Kentucky to Missouri in 1831 and settled on land near Middletown. The people in the area felt a strong need for religious services and prayer meetings, which grew into preaching services. At this time (1832) Sandy Jones and Sam Crutcher began holding services on the Crutcher farm.
These early advances toward Christian needs resulted in the organization of the congregation of the Middletown Christian Church in 1837. The Church was organized at Park’s place and they preached at Star School. The Christian Church is considered the oldest operating church in Montgomery County. It is also considered the oldest continuous operating independent Christian church in Missouri. Charter members included Shelton Farthing, Fielding White and wife Levise, Sam Crutcher and wife Ann, Mathias Sheets and wife Mary, Volney Suggett, Johnnie Mosby, William Smith and wife Agnes, Henry White and wife Elizabeth, John Bentley, James Hunt and wife Sally and Leander Cox. Sandy Jones was the preacher.
In February of 1841, it was reported that the church had 28 members. J.W Cox reported “the people seemed to be living in their duty and were marching onward”. In October of 1843, Greenup Jackman reported at the annual meeting in Louisville that “Middletown had 40 members.”
The first church building was constructed in 1850 out of logs from the Crutcher farm. This building was located at the site of the Middletown Christian Church of current day. The church was a framed structure with large pillars through the center. The seats were divided with a railing through the center separating the men and women. Web Baker sawed the lumber, Joe Whiteside was the contractor and Tom Bentley, L. Love, and a man named Kellog were the carpenters.
This church was not only a building for the worship of God, but a community church offering service to the youth of the town, and serving as the school building.
In September, 1852, Bro. Levy Hatchett reported a congregation of about 130 members, with 60-70 added in the last 18 months.
In 1859, Dennis Granfield, who was raised in Middletown and attended Bethany College and graduated in 1858, returned to Middletown and became a pronounced gospel preacher at Middletown Christian Church. His ability was reinforced by a ready Irish wit.
In 1865, Timothy Ford was the leader of the church. He was assisted by Raccoon John Smith, W.J. Mason and E.V, Rice. Timothy Ford lived in Middletown for years and brought many young people to the Lord. All the Fords were singers, including Dr. B.W. Ford.
Timothy Ford’s preaching won many converts and strengthened the church. He was also a member of the early debate teams held in Middletown.
Other early preachers and leaders were L.B. Wilkes, Thomas M. Allen, Levi Hatchett, B.H. Smith, Joseph Errett and Billie Mason.
The church membership continued to grow steadily, and at a convention in August of 1867, the report was made of 185 members at Middletown Christian Church. Due to the growth of the membership, a new building was necessary. A new brick building was erected in 1868. The bricks were burnt by Mr. Clarke Averille. It was built on the same ground as the previous church at a cost of $3,000.
Elders at this time were Volney Suggett, John Mosby and Shelton Farthing. Deacons included George Swatzel, George Johnson and Phillip White.
In 1927 the church was beginning to need much repair. The congregation decided to remove the old building and rebuild on the same ground. On July 13, 1927, Mr. Morz Lientz and Charley Beedle began to make the blocks for the new building. The following September, the old building was razed and work began on the new church. The new church, which is still the current building, was constructed of cement blocks with stucco. There was a basement under the entire building. The building was lighted by electricity. It also had a furnace. The building seated between 275 and 300 people. A bell was hung in the belfry and is still heard every Sunday as church begins. This was the same bell that was used at the 1868 building. The cost of the construction was approximately $12,000.
The new Middletown Christian Church building was dedicated January 27, 1929. The officers at this time were E.C. Hobbs, D.R. Noan, T.C. Bartlett, J.R. Riding, J.B. Keithley, Lemon Lemasters and J.J. Gartman.
The church building has undergone many remodeling jobs, including a complete outside stucco redo. The inside has a new look and to make the church handicap accessible, an elevator has been added.
The heroic men and faithful servants of Christ and Middletown Christian Church laid the foundation and continued the work that we know today. During the 175 years of the Middletown Christian Church’s history, this church has not only made a contribution to the development of the Christian community, but it has sent out men and women to all parts of the nation and world to build a Christian life with the communities where they have lived.
“Go ye therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
Matthew 28: 19-20