HISTORY OF THE CHURCH OF CHRIST
OWENS CROSS ROADS CHURCH OF CHRIST
FROM 1908 – PRESENT
The following historical information was gathered and compiled by members of the Owens Cross Roads congregation of the Church of Christ. It is included in this Dedication Celebration program to remind us of the indebtedness we owe those for establishing the Lord’s church here at Owens Cross Roads.
The Church of Christ at Owens Cross Roads, Alabama, had its beginning 108 years ago in 1908, as the result of a gospel meeting. Brother R.N. Moody of Albertville, Alabama, preached under a brush arbor on a lot secured through the efforts of Alvie H. Ellett of Owens Cross Roads and U. D Ellett of New Hope, Alabama.
Awakened by the power of the gospel and the desire to restore the Church of the New Testament, people in the area began to search the scriptures as never before. The first convert is said to have been Alvie H. Ellett, who at the time was a Methodist Sunday school teacher. Following the brush arbor meeting, Brother Ellett and other brave souls such as Joe Craig, Sam Dudley and John Byrd carried on the spirit of Christ and kept it alive in the area.
For several summers, meetings were conducted under brush arbors and tents with many prominent evangelists of the day presenting gospel sermons. Such men as R. N. Moody, J. A. Gainer, B. Jones, Dr. Horton, G. Allen, Joe Jones, Collum Oakley, and John T. Smithson, Sr., bravely and boldly upheld the truth and helped the small congregation at Owens Cross Roads through the many trials of the day.
Between meetings, the worship services of the church were held in the homes of the members until approximately 1913, when space was provided on the second floor of Brother Alvie H. Ellett’s store. This place had at various times been used for a school, a Woodmen of the World Hall and an Oddfellow’s Hall. As the congregation grew, it was blessed by having members with great talent in the art of singing. Through the efforts of men like Robert M. Craft, James M. Maples and Roy A. Craig, the congregation became noted for its beautiful singing.
In 1922, a plot of ground in the center of Owens Cross Roads near Brother Ellett’s store was purchased from C. W. Evans by Robert M. Craft, Joe Ben Tabor, and Alvie H. Ellett for a building lot. In 1933, the Church of Christ at Owens Cross Roads erected its first building. It was a frame building and because of the Great Depression, materials were cheap and labor was readily available. As a result, the building was completed in time for the 1933 gospel meeting with John J. Smithson, Sr.
In 1945, Brother Charles Cobb presided over the appointment of Joe Ben Tabor, James M. “Jim” Maples and Roy A. Craig as the first elders of the congregation.
At the same time, L. H. Brockway, G. A. Kelly and Allen Maples were chosen to serve as the first deacons. During this period, young men preparing for the ministry presented the sermons. Among the speakers of the day were Tommy Rosenblum, George Marshall, Turner Paseur and Boyd Fanning.
By the year, 1952, an extra classroom had been added to the building, and in 1956, a preacher’s home was constructed behind the church building. Brother Charles Coates became the first located minister, and he and wife, Ernestine “Tine”, worked with the congregation from 1956 to 1960. During this time, in 1958, two more classrooms were added.
Brother Ralph Samples and his wife, Miriam “Mimi”, came to Owens Cross Roads in 1960, working with the congregation until 1962. Brother Paul Hosse and his wife, Doris, labored with the congregation from 1962 until 1966, and it was during this period the membership increased to approximately 140. In 1963, it became evident that the building and land were not adequate to accommodate any future growth, so Brother Joe Ben Tabor and his wife, Laura Craft Tabor, donated land on Old Highway 431 for a new building. Construction of the new building began in the spring of 1964, under the supervision of Brother Roy Craig, and was completed in late fall of that year. The first assembly for worship in the new building was on November 8, 1964, with Brother Hosse presenting the lesson. An open house was held on November 22, 1964, with Brother Paul Hunton speaking and the Madison Academy Chorus providing a program of songs. A crowd estimated at 550 assembled for the open house.
In 1966, Brother John Cunningham and his wife, Sally, came to work with the congregation. John was the minister for 19 years.
In the 1970’s, a new wing of classrooms was added to the building. In 1986, Brother Stan Stevenson and his wife, Jule, came to work with the congregation and labored until June of 1991. A large fellowship hall was added to the building in 1991. This facility had a modern kitchen and storage area. New restrooms, carpeting in the auditorium, and carpeting in the foyer were also added. In September of 1991, Brother Joe Hacker, Jr. and his wife, Joan, arrived and worked with the congregation until the summer of 1994. Brother J. B. Whitaker and his wife, Carol, came to us in January 1995. Due to failing health, Brother Whitaker retired from fulltime preaching the last Sunday of 2000.
After Brother Whitaker retired, men of the congregation, along with area preachers, fulfilled the pulpit duties until July 2001, when Brother Harold Kelly assumed the duties of minister. Construction of a new auditorium and additional classrooms began in 2002, and the first assembly in the new auditorium took place May 11, 2003. The old auditorium was converted into a new fellowship hall, and the old fellowship hall was turned into a classroom for the teenagers. Brother Harold Kelly and his wife, Annette, continue to work with the congregation to date. After moving into the new auditorium we added a new Elder, Jerry Prince.
In September 2011 four additional Elders, Gregory K. Shubert, Randy Morrison, John C. Stephens and Harold L. Kelly were installed. On June 9, 2013, Greg Shubert passed away after suffering from cancer. Jerry Prince and John Stephens later resigned.
The current elders are J. Thomas Conwell, Jr., Ronald F. Bridges, Randy M. Morrison and Harold L. Kelly.
Our first Sunday morning worship service at 124 Eastwood Drive in a brand new building was held September 18th, 2016.
We are thankful for the efforts of our Construction Committee Chairmen, Larry Furlough and Benny Burleson for their oversight of our new construction. We also are thankful for the efforts of Gregg Bragg, Eric Maine, John Smith, Consolidated Construction and the numerous members of the Owens Cross Roads Church of Christ who made this project possible.
As we move forward, we pray for the continued growth of the Church here and abroad. We dedicate this building as an instrument for the glory of God and the expansion of His Kingdom.