Consideration of a Kansas City, Missouri Church of the Brethren began in 1905. This congregation was officially established in 1908 under the leadership of Isaac H. Crist, of Kansas City, Kansas, as a mission effort. We were located in the Eastside Centropolis area of Kansas City, Missouri. Dedication was held on August 22, 1909.
We were organized as a congregation by the Middle District of Missouri on April 24, 1910. The first pastor was Elder George W. Lentz. There were 105 persons as charter members, including some from Grain Valley, Sibley, and the recently disorganized Clear Creek congregation in Saline County. We moved to a new building at 6236 Hughes St., which later became 16th Terrace. The first love feast was held on May 22, 1910.
The church authorized securing a musical instrument on July 26, 1922. We established a piano fund in May 1924.
We became self-supporting in 1926.
A Sunday school class called the Fellowship Class was established in 1928.
The church on 16th Terrace was remodeled and re-dedicated on May 5, 1940.
A new pulpit was dedicated in memory of Pastor I.V. Enos in 1950.
Our new church building and relocation plans began in October of 1952. Ground breaking was on February 20, 1955 at 1925 Hardesty in Kansas City, Missouri. Dedication of the new church was held on October 21, 1956. We has present as speaker, Dr. Jesse H. Zeigler. He was a professor at Bethany Seminary.
The 50th anniversary of Messiah was celebrated on April 23 and 24, 1960. The speaker for this special time was Paul N. Robinson, President of Bethany Biblical Seminary.
The name “Messiah” was officially adopted to precede “Church of the Brethren” at the April, 1960 council meeting.
The burning of the mortgage, for our current church address, 1925 Hardesty, was held on January 31 and February 1, 1976. The service was held with much celebration.
The Eastside Outreach Center began in 1982. The Center is an emergency food distribution center. Counseling services were offered by John Huggett and several Messiah volunteers.
Our seventy-fifth anniversary was celebrated all year long in 1985. We had various significant activities. The climax was an all-day meeting at the church on Sunday, December 1, 1985. Our speaker was Rev. Floyd E. Bantz, a former pastor from Pennsylvania. A reception was held on July 11, 1985, for Ira Gibble and his wife, Martha. He was a former Pastor at Messiah.
The Bigger Story:
The Church of the Brethren, the largest of the Brethren churches, was formed in 1708 in Schwarzenau, Germany with the work of Alexander Mack. The early Brethren were influnced by the Anabaptists as well as by Pietism, and they covenanted to be a people shaped by personal faith in Christ, prayer, and study of Scripture. They stressed daily discipleship and service to neighbor. Severe persecution and economic conditions prompted virtually the entire movement to migrage to North America between 1719 and 1729. Commonly known as German Baptist Brethren, or even Dunkers or Dunkards, in its bicentennial year, 1908, the group adopted "Church of the Brethren" as its official name. "Brethren" was seen as a New Testiment term that conveyed the kinship and warmth of Jesus' early followers.
The Brethren emphasize right living more than right doctrine, and our current demoninational website (www.Brethren.org) invites those "fed up with doctrine and still hungry" to try the Brethren way, which includes "open-minded consideration of Jesus, the scriptures and our own hearts." True to Pietist principles, the Brethren develop their understanding through community discussion and study, using Jesus' own teaching as a guide for modern living. Although non-creedal, the Church of the Brethren has held firmly to basic tenents of the Free Church, or Believers Church, tradition. Among the most distinctive Brethren practices are the baptisim of confessing believers by threefold immersion and the anointing of the ill for spiritual and bodily health. The Last Supper is observed with a service of foot washing that symbolizes family, and the commemorative Eucharist that symbolizes Saviorhood.
Brethren have long held an official peace witness, expressed often in conscientious objection to military service. During World War II, Civilian Public Health camps were maintained for relitious objectors who performed work in the national interest. During and after the war, many of the programs were continued under the alternative service provisions of Selective Service, and voluntary service abroad, a forerunner of the Peace Corps, was introduced. Also growing out of the peace concern was a worldwide program of relief, reconstruction, and welfare, conducted by the Brethren Service Commission and later by the World Ministries Commission, as a service of love to those suffering from war, natural disasters, or social disadvantage. Since 1948 Brethren Volunteer Service has enlisted nearly five thousand men and women for one or two years of social service at home and abroad. Work with migrant laborers, inner-city dwellers, prision inmates, refugees, and victims of abuse exemplify the types of activities undertaken. Increasingly, older volunteers have enrolled in the program, quite often after they have reached retirement age.
Numerous projects initiated by the group have become full-scale ecumenical enterprises. Among them are the Heifer Project International, Christian Youth Exchange, Christian Rural Overseas Program (CROP), Sales Exchange for Refugee Rehabilitation Vocation (SERRV), and International Voluntary Service. Other pioneering ventures were agricultural exchanges bagun with Poland in the 1950's and with China in the 1980's and ecumenical exchanges with the Russian Orthodox Church in the 1960's.
In polity, the Brethren combine both congregational and presbyterian practices, with final authority vested in an Annual Conference of elected delegates. The General Board of elected and ex officio members is the administrative arm of the church. Congregations are organized into twenty-three districts in thirty-six states, usually with one or more full-time executives in each district. The heavist concentration of churches are in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.
The Brethren are related to six accredited liberal arts colleges: Bridgewater College in Virginia; Elizabethtown and Juniata Colleges in Pennsylvania; University of LaVerne in California; Manchester University in Indiana; and McPherson College in Kansas. The church sponsors one graduate school, Bethany Theological Seminary, in Richmond, Indiana. General Offices and Brethren Press are in Elgin, Illinois.