Congregation Observes 50th Anniversary (June 2003)
The church of Christ in Clinton commemorated over 50 years of serving Clinton and the Golden Valley in a homecoming on June 21st in their building at 607 E. Clinton Street. The congregation of 5 members began meeting in the upstairs of the W.O.W. building on the north side of the square in the fall of 1952. The first preacher was James Willet and he preached one Sunday a month until the spring of 1954, when he began to preach every Sunday until 1958. The congregation moved to their current location in 1958 and by 1966 added new classrooms and office space.
In the 1970’s the congregation began a very successful bus ministry program and the growth experienced necessitated the construction of a new auditorium and is the current facility. Construction on the new auditorium began in 1978 and was completed in early 1980. The original building was converted into more classroom space and a fellowship hall.
19 preachers have worked with the congregation over the years but during periodic absences it was necessary to call on the talents of men within the congregation to meet preaching and teaching needs.
The afternoon of events began with the arrival of past members from a number of Missouri and Kansas locations. Four speakers were selected to share memories of their time with the congregation with Brother Ralph Martin leading off. With original members now gone, Ralph was the earliest surviving member in that he served starting in 1960. His observations reminded of some of the hardships faced in the early years and how with dedication and devotion to God’s work they were overcome. The results of the trials were a stronger group, more resolved to serving and reaching out to the Clinton Community. Brother Martin was followed by Brother John Thiesen, who served as the minister from 1966-69, prior to becoming a missionary to the African nation of Malawi. This was Brother Thiesen’s first congregation as a preacher and his reflections focused on the encouragement he received and family bonds that have been prevalent in this family of God over the years. The church continued to support Brother Thiesen’s work as he went to Africa up until the late 1990s when his health forced him to return to the U.S. The third speaker was Brother Dave Coleman who was a member of this congregation in the late 1980’s and a regular fill-in preacher. His experiences in Clinton led him to preaching school in 1989 and eventually to the congregation located in Warrensburg where he served for 2 years. His enthusiasm for preaching God’s word was still evident as he spoke of his love for God’s family here and how important selfless service to community is when doing God’s work. It was a pleasure having these three men from years gone by speak to us. The last speaker was the current preacher, Brother Nolan Rutter. Brother Rutter is also a past member who came to the congregation in 1988 while assigned to Whiteman AFB. He worked with the youth program for a number of years and was transferred to Guam in 1995. Upon his retirement from the Air Force in 1998, he returned to Clinton and the family of Christians that meant so much to him. He became the full-time preacher in December 2001. He shared memories of road trips to Bible bowls, losing children on Christian college campuses, and working with those that love the Lord. He also spoke of the future of the church in Clinton. He spoke on the hopes of continuing to serve this community and reaching out to those still searching for a home with God and His children.
There were displays of memorabilia from the congregation’s history that included many photographs, bulletins, and newspaper articles. There was more than enough to keep one busy reminiscing for hours. Activities closed in the afternoon with a dinner for the over 100 people who came. Thank you to the community of Clinton for your part in making this milestone possible. You are invited to come and visit as we seek to serve God and “devote ourselves to one another in brotherly love.”