History Of The Sistersville Church Of Christ

Jerry Toothman

Sistersville is, indeed, an old congregation, with a rich 90-year history. On May 30, 1915, 21 people met in the home of Mr. and Mrs. O.D. Cooper to establish the church in this city. The following Sunday they met in the home of John Eddy, with 30 present. By the third Sunday, June 6, the group had rented the City Hall. Beginning on Saturday night, June 19, Brother Wayne Harkins preached a two-week gospel meeting there. During that meeting, Harkins and some of the men of the congregation met with representatives of the Christian Church to see if they could agree to unite as one body. Some of those original members had been members of churches of Christ in other places and had moved to Sistersville. Finding no church here, they had tried to work and worship with the Christian Church. This effort to unite the two groups failed because these early brethren were determined to be loyal to the New Testament pattern of organization, work, and worship, and the members of the Christian Church in town were just as determined to hold to the innovations that had divided the Lord's church around 1880.

The brethren continued meeting in City Hall until January 1916, when they secured permission to meet in an unused school building. They met there a little over two years. At the last Wednesday prayer meeting in the school, March 6,1918, there were 40 present. There were some great gospel meetings in those days. C.R. Rice held two meetings in 1917-18, having 60 additions in one and 40 in the other. Brother W.S. Long reported a gospel meeting in Sistersville (date unknown) which lasted 45 days and saw 100 additions.

The church purchased a small frame building on Hill Street, and Russell Rice began a meeting at the first service in the new building on Saturday, March 9, 1918. The dedication service for that Hill Street building was held Saturday, June 9, 1918. The church met in that building until 1953.

Growth of the church, combined with the condition of the old building, convinced the brethren of the need for a new meeting house. In 1951 lots were secured where the building now stands on Oxford Street. The first service was held in the new building on Wednesday evening, December 9, 1953. The building had eleven classrooms and would seat over 300 people. The original cost of the building and furnishings was approximately $63,000. Hundreds came to the dedication service on April 11, 1954, as well as to the open house, held on the Thursday night before. At the time, the building was considered the most modern and beautiful in the Ohio Valley. An educational wing was added to the building in 1965, and a fellowship annex in 1972.

Preachers who have served as located ministers at Sistersville include C.R. Rice, J.M. Rice, G.W. Adkins, F.S. Harper, Wellington Gallagher, Clifton Inman, Lawrence Gardner, John Tyler, Hillard Story, Phillip Black, Harold Stanley, Charles Aebi, Roy Goodmiller, Larry Lemasters, Denver Haught, and John Tenney. Jerry Toothman has been located there since 1984.

According to church records, the following men have served as elders (in alphabetical order): Harvey Conklin, O.D. Cooper, John M. Eddy, Everett Farley, J.O. Garman, Paul Ingram, Earl Kelley, Jonathan Moore, John Smith, William Smythe, and William Tracey. Deacons were: John Core, George Eddy, Fred Folger, Glenn Hayes, Paul Ingram, John Lancaster, Harold Neeley, and Edward Workman.

(Special thanks to Marybelle Ice, Charles Aebi, and others for many hours of research on the history of the Sistersville church.) -206 Oxford St., Sistersville, WV 26175. siscofc@stratuswave.net


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