The First Christian Church of Berea, Kentucky, was initially called
the "Second Church" for it was founded by the Reverend John
G. Fee some forty years after he started Union Church and Berea College.
Fee’s decision to resign from his pastorate at Union in October, 1895
came after years of discussion about baptism by immersion as a requirement
for church membership. Due to Fee’s conviction in favor of immersion,
he and six others left Union Church to establish a new church more
in keeping with his religious principles.
One of Fee’s religious principles that
was reflected in the new church was his idea of interracial community,
for among the six who left were the Reverend Anderson Crawford, an
African American minister who had assisted Fee at Union since the
1870s, and local white businessmen J. M. Early, J. Wilson Chaney,
and B.R. (Boss) Robinson. Robinson, a carpenter, helped construct
the church building and he is pictured with Fee standing in front
of their new church. The original church building has undergone remodeling
and enlargements in 1922-23, 1961, 1965, 1972-73, and most recently
in1988-89 when a $350,000 Fellowship Hall along with classrooms, church
offices, a parlor, modern kitchen and restrooms were added
In the church's belfry rings the Freedman’s
Bell, a large bell transported to Berea by wagon in 1865 from Camp
Nelson (Jessamine Country). During the Civil War, Fee, preaching and
teaching to thousands of African-American soldiers and their families,
wrote two personal friends in Cincinnati requesting a bell to call
troops for worship and classes. The Freedmen's Bell was used by Berea
College until 1896 when it was moved.
By the Constitution and By-laws of 1960,
Deacons, Elders and Trustees provide leadership along with the Pastor.
Seven committees carry out church functions: (1) Worship and Devotional
Life, (2) Christian Education, (3) Evangelism, (4) Membership Development,
(5) Outreach, (6) Stewardship and (7) Property. A Christian Women's
Fellowship (CWF), organized in the late 1940s,consisted of seven groups
or circles named after a Biblical woman - Hannah, Mary, Lydia, Ruth,
Rebecca, Esther and Sarah (shut-ins). Currently the active CWF circles
are Ruth Lydia and Rebecca. The Christian Men's Fellowship (CMF) formed
in July 1954. In May 1968, the church began serving Communion to shut-ins.
Church facilities serve the needs of a Boy Scout Troop (1940), the
Cub Scouts and the Brownies. The Berea Children's Center school-age
childcare (1990) and the New Opportunity School for Women (1996) are
located here. Annually, seven outreach offerings are collected : (1)
a local offering, (2) Week of Compassion, (3) Easter, (4) Pentecost,
(5) Reconciliation, (6) Thanksgiving, and (7) Christmas. Church members
provide back-to-school and family Christmas assistance to the schools'
Family Resource Centers.