Auburn Church of Christ celebrates 50 years | The star

AUBURN – It’s a 50-year celebration in the works.

This weekend, Auburn’s Church of Christ, located at 208 W. 18th St., will mark its 50th anniversary, with events scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Titled “He is my Firm Foundation,” the event begins at 9 a.m. Friday with 50 hours of prayer. A ministry fair begins at 6:30 p.m. in the church gymnasium. A hymn singing, with special guests, is at 7 p.m. in the church sanctuary. A dessert reception follows in the gym.

A Student Ministry Breakfast fundraising event kicks off Saturday activities at 8 a.m. Additional activities include volunteer service projects, prayer walk, volunteer lunch and fellowship dinner. A church anniversary offering will be collected to raise funds for the continued improvement of the playgrounds.

Guest speaker Fred Schmitt will deliver a special message during an evening service beginning at 6 p.m. on Saturday.

Family worship begins at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, followed by dinner in the communion hall.

Senior minister Andy Grimes, originally from Auburn, has led the congregation since September 2016. Associate minister Travis Fox has been with the church since June 2006. Anna Horton serves as children’s ministry director. Nikki Childs is an office administrator.

In preparation for the weekend, Grimes spoke with the church’s former pastors to share in the celebration, including the church’s first preacher, Dallas Savage, who is the grandfather of Grimes’ wife, Olivia.

In describing the congregation, Grimes said attendees said Auburn’s Church of Christ is a “warm and welcoming” group that fosters a family environment.

“We are a multigenerational church,” he said. “There are many young families with children, but also ‘senior saints’, veterans of life in church ministry…everywhere in between.

“That’s what I’m proud of,” Grimes added. “A lot of times you get one end of the spectrum or another, and the fact that we’re multi-generational is something that I think is unique to us.

“We’re laid back and laid back,” he said. “I feel like we feel comfortable in our gatherings, programs, events and services that are welcoming in type.”

The church dates back to March 12, 1972, when five families gathered at the home of Bill and Jeanne Butler on Iwo Street. Mr. Butler died in February 2018. Mrs. Butler remains a member of the church.

Later that year, the church began leasing space in a former church building—then owned by the Knights of Pythias—at the corner of 13th and Jackson streets. In 1974, Auburn Church of Christ purchased a church building on Ensley Avenue.

The church remained there until April 1982, when it purchased its current building on 18th Street. The church has since acquired all of the properties bordered by 17th and 18th Jackson and Van Buren streets. In addition to the church, the block includes a house converted into offices, a playground and a parking lot.

In December 2020, the church launched a fundraising campaign to raise $200,000, with the following goals: eliminate debt, repair and update the building, and send additional funds to its seven missions.

By November 2021, enough funds had been raised to pay off all of the church’s debts. The goal of $200,000 was reached in December. A new metal roof has been erected over the entire building and upgraded amenities have been installed in the playground, which is open for community use.

Church missions include Great Lakes Christian College, Trine Christian Campus House, DeKalb County Impact Corp. (Hearten House), West Africa Christian Mission, Lake James Christian Camp & Retreat Center, Woodburn Christian Children’s Home and Latin America Ministries led by Bill and Bette Loft.

Worship is at 10:30 a.m. every Sunday. Adult Bible study groups meet at 9 a.m. Sunday and 10:30 a.m. Thursday. Wednesday’s programming includes a free lunch at 6 p.m., with ministry for children in grades K-5, ministry for students (grades 6-12), Bible study for ladies and study biblical for men.

Jerry B. Hatch