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Church History

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.

Dr. Jackie Burnside
CPO 1706
Berea, KY 40404
(859) 985-3811

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Berea College

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