First Christian Church of Denton was founded only 11 years after the city of Denton was established. We have been a part of the community for over 140 years, ministering to the needy, preaching the Gospel, and helping Denton grow.
After the town of Denton was established in 1857, churches began to meet in the Masonic Hall during the 1860s. According to early records, First Christian Church was organized on May 27, 1868. On August 2, 1876, the church erected a small frame structure with a moderately high belfry northwest of the courthouse at the intersection of West Oak and North Elm. The building was later moved to a lot on West Hickory.
By 1892, attendance had declined and for a time regular services were no longer held. John W. Marshall, an evangelist, was called to hold a meeting for the congregation. At the close, he was asked to be the pastor. During his ministry, a portion of the membership formed the Pearl Street Church of Christ in 1893. The split was brought about by a disagreement over a choice of pastors, not over the use of the organ in the church.
In 1902, the congregation filed for and received a charter from the State of Texas and legally became First Christian Church of Denton, Texas. One of the provisions of the charter was that the management of the affairs of the church should be under the control of a board of three trustees. That summer the congregation worshiped in a temporary facility on a lot at Piner and Hickory until it was torn down in preparation for a new brick building. In the meantime, the courthouse was used as a place of worship until the new building was completed. Allen Wilson of Indianapolis, Indiana, one of the foremost ministers of the Restoration Movement, preached the first sermon in the new building on November 20, 1904.
In October 1915, T. H. Matthieson of New Zealand was called as pastor of the church. Early in his ministry, the building was examined and declared unsafe. The official board and the congregation decided not only to repair the old building but also to erect an up-to-date Bible School annex. The church property at that time represented an investment greater than any church in the city. During World War I, the Bible School annex served as headquarters of the Red Cross.
On Sunday, May 12, 1918, the church celebrated its 50th anniversary and the last of the money necessary to pay off the indebtedness was raised and the mortgage burned. By 1924, more than 450 people were attending the Bible School.
Although numerous repairs were made to the building, in 1939 it was found unsafe and was condemned and sold to a wrecking company. The congregation met elsewhere until a new building could be constructed. Some of the material from the old building was used, including the stained glass memorial windows. A box of items that had been in the cornerstone of the earlier church was placed in the cornerstone of the new church.
In 1943, the church celebrated its Diamond Jubilee, and on January 16, 1944, there was another mortgage burning ceremony at which time the church was again cleared of debt. Immediately, the church began a campaign for future development called "The Church of the Future.” In 1954, the decision was made to relocate the church, and members of the congregation began a "Magic Box" savings program. The Fulton Street site was purchased in 1956 with the money the members had raised.
The new facility was built in 1959 and designed by the late O’Neil Ford, a distinguished Texas architect. It is unique in its form of construction and in its symbolism (see "The Architect and Architecture of First Christian Church"). In 1968, the church congregation observed its 100th anniversary and in 1984, the 25th anniversary of the present building was another cause for celebration. A Reuter pipe organ was added to the sanctuary in 1990, replacing the 31-year old Hammond organ. On May 30, 1993, the congregation celebrated it's 125th anniversary, and like other anniversaries in this church's long history, it was a brief pause for remembering past accomplishments and those responsible for them, and a time to renew the spirit for the work ahead.
In September of 1998, ground was broken for a new addition to the church building, adding much needed restrooms, classrooms, a gathering area, new library, new prayer chapel, a music suite, a new office suite, and a new parking lot. Fellowship Hall also was remodeled, as was the old office area, which was converted into a new youth wing. The new addition was dedicated in March 2000. All of the new construction was carefully designed and constructed to match the architecture and spirit of the original O’Neil Ford design. The debt for the new construction was paid off in June 2001 with another note burning on January 6, 2002.
In recent years, members have worked to maintain the church and its grounds, and to update facilities and equipment. The heating and cooling system is now computer-controlled to reduce utility costs and provide more efficient operation. The sanctuary roof was completely refurbished in 2010.
Especially important is what is happening within the congregation. The youth program has grown as new families have joined the church, bringing youngsters from toddlers to teens, all with a fresh spirit and enthusiasm. The music program, known for its exceptional quality and diversity, continues to enrich the worship service and special programs.
The history of First Christian Church of Denton is a story of love and dedication of people--individuals and families--the people who make up this very special place of worship, fellowship and service.
For more about the history of FCC Denton you can click here to view two old histories of the church that were found in some of our historical records.