Brief History of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Marietta, GA

Rev. Hal DosterFor the 69th anniversary of the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Marietta, a beloved Minister Emeritus, the Rev. Dr. Hal Doster returned to preach. The special worship service began at 11:00 a.m., Sunday, April 15, at 569 Frasier Street, Marietta. Doster’s sermon is entitled, “Core Values,” and will be followed by a fellowship luncheon.

Sixty-nine years ago, a tiny notice, less than one column inch, jammed inconspicuously into the dense classified ads in the Marietta Daily Journal, read simply, “If you are a member of the Christian Church or are interested in organizing a Christian Church in Marietta, call Mrs. Thomas Hill.” It was November, 1948.

Several people responded to the advertisement and articles that followed, including R. T. “Toy” Moon, destined to become a strong leader in the new congregation. The small group moved the St. Timothy Episcopal Church from Kirkwood, Georgia, to Frasier and Fairground, in pieces. They reassembled it, changed its denomination, and held a formal dedication service in the tiny sanctuary on April 3, 1949, the official birthday of the church. Twenty-seven people signed the charter as members that day, including John Hill, his parents, Thomas and Clara Mae, and brother, Ben. By January 15, 1950, when the charter closed, another twenty-four had joined them, making fifty-one charter members. In that same month, the congregation called Rev. Jack Daniell as its first pastor (1950-1954), and the church grew to more than 200 members under his leadership.

A new, larger sanctuary was begun in 1961 and dedicated on May 5, 1963. The educational wing was begun in 1971, and dedicated in the spring of 1976, under the leadership of Rev. John Lee, (1969-1981). Under the ministry of Rev. Dr. Hal Doster (1990-1996), the church helped birth a new Disciples Korean congregation. On July 5, 1990, the Christian Women’s Fellowship of the church, under the leadership of Anita Farris and Marge Rose, started the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry, which became a major provider of food assistance to the disadvantaged public of Marietta.

Rev. Jerry GladsonUnder the ministry of Rev. Dr. Jerry Gladson (1997 -2007), the church began a total refurbishing of the sanctuary and dedicated it in January, 2004. Rev. Gladson also led in the development of a local partnership of churches to provide assistance to the disadvantaged in Marietta, and founded an academic-style Bible study called “Conversations.” Under Rev. Gladson’s leadership, First Christian Church sponsored at least nine ministers to ordination or commissioning, a worship band, Soulfire, and a thriving ministry in addiction recovery.

During and following Rev. Jerry Gladson’s tenure at First Christian Church, the food pantry continued growing its ministry. Sherwood Smith was appointed director of the then renamed, Disciples Mission Food Pantry, which served valiantly during the difficult times following 9-11, Hurricane Katrina, and various economic downturns. In 2017, Disciples Mission Food Pantry distributed 414,239 pounds of food to 5,600 families in Cobb County.

Also during the most recent twenty years, First Christian Church’s prayer ministry grew into carrying the trust of the concerns of friends in the recovery groups, clients in the food pantry, and friends of church members, besides the concerns of the members themselves. Lola Bethel cared carefully for the actual list until October 30, 2011, after which the perpetual list was named in her memory. In 2017, the elders expanded the prayer ministry to inspire several groups that meet at various times through the week.

First Christian Church is continuing its legacy of nurturing other local churches, and currently four different churches worship and hold various meetings in the facilities at Fairground and Frasier. First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), in Marietta, Georgia, called Rev. Wilma Zalabak as its newest senior minister in January, 2018, and looks forward with eagerness to whatever God will do to cause it to be what God wants in south central Marietta.

 

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