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History of the Worcester church of Christ


The first meeting of the church in Worcester was in 1853 when a man who was converted by Alexander Campbell came to Worcester and, with his family, began the Church of Christ here. Little is known about this early beginning of the church in Worcester, and eventually, this congregation ceased to exist.

The Worcester Church of Christ began again on November 21, 1943. The work was begun by Thomas N. Page, assisted by members of the Brookline Church of Christ, where Brother Page was serving as Associate Minister. Fourteen people were present at that first meeting in the Bancroft Hotel.

Fourteen people were present at that first meeting in the Bancroft Hotel. There was only one known member of the Church of Christ living in Worcester at that time, Arthur Pike, Jr., a student at Worcester Tech. At times there would only be six people present for services.

In December of that same year, Charles Masters of Edcouch, Texas, placed membership. Then Phyllis Briggs was baptized in March of the following year. After five months of meeting in the hotel, the church began meeting in a remodeled store building at 124 June Street, with more than 30 in attendance.

It was at this time that Mr. & Mrs. Harry Dighton identified with the congregation. Brother Dighton later preached for the church in Manchester, New Hampshire.

After only two Sunday services the church was notified that the building had been sold and they would have to move within the month!

A small church building at 23 Stanton Street, on Belmont Hill, was rented for $15.00 a month, and the church began to meet there on September 15, 1944. It was about this time that Brother Page moved his family to Worcester and became the first full-time minister. The Church met on Stanton Street until October, 1946, at which time the Natural History Museum on State Street became the next temporary meeting place for the Sunday assembly. Mid-week Bible Study at the home of the Paul Larsons.

Soon after the move to State Street, the Church was incorporated, with 25 charter members. A building site was purchased at the corner of May and June Streets in 1947. An adjoining residential property was purchased in 1949; the top two floors were used as the Minister’s residence, while the Church met on the first floor. The basement provided additional classroom space.

Many congregations have contributed liberally to the Worcester work through the years. In the early years, the Central Church in Houston, Texas, led the way. Beginning in 1946, the Skillman Avenue Church in Dallas, Texas, provided support for 20 years.

Brother Page left in 1951, primarily due to health reasons, and in September of that year, Cecil A. Allmon came.

In 1953, a tornado struck the city of Worcester. The records of the church were destroyed in the tornado, which hit the house of Bud & Nargie Dodge in Holden (where the records were being kept).

In 1959, Robert Lawrence joined Brother Allmon in order to broaden the scope of the work, and remained with the congregation for nine years. An expanded building program was developed, and for four years the two ministers and the congregation labored over the possibilities of a new building, as the church continued to grow numerically. Much work was done to seek additional funds for the building program.

Brother Allmon worked with the church in Worcester for 12 years, leaving in the later part of 1963 to begin a congregation in the Wilkes-Barre, PA area.

The search for land began when it was decided the property at May and June Streets would not hold a building and parking facilities to suit our needs.

In 1966, the congregation voted to purchase a suitable lot with funds from the present property and secure a loan to erect a building with educational facilities. Bob Lawrence was chosen to spearhead this program.

Brother Lawrence stayed until July, 1968, when he left to teach at York College in Nebraska. It was while the Lawrence family was here that the minister’s home at 22 Sachem Avenue was purchased.

Shortly before Brother Lawrence left, the church purchased almost three acres of land just a mile and a half from the heart of the city, on Beaverbrook Parkway. The property on May and June was sold and the church began clearing land and, having selected a building and contractor, began construction of the building at 89 Beaverbrook Parkway in 1967.

Neil Massie succeeded Brother Lawrence in June of 1968. Massie worked with the church until 1970, and it was through his efforts that a building loan was secured by getting the Brookside Church of Christ in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to co-sign the loan, along with all the members of the congregation here. Brother Massie left Worcester in July, 1970 to attend graduate school at Abilene Christian University.

When the property at May and June Streets was sold in March, 1969, the church made arrangements to meet temporarily at an Episcopal church in nearby Auburn.

Finally, on October 26, 1970, the church was able to meet in the Educational Wing of the new building.

Metal folding chairs had to be fastened together with metal rods, in order to comply with state law. Later, this same procedure would be used in the auditorium until pews could be found. At that time, the congregation began a search for used pews. The Chamber of Commerce was contacted, inquiring about any churches that might be moving, or remodeling. An ad was also placed in the newspaper. A church contacted George Lindberg, offering pews at the price of $500, which was too expensive. Later, the same church offered the pews at the price of $275, again this was too expensive. Sometime later, the Worcester Church received a telephone call, requesting that we, “just come and remove the pews,” which the Worcester Church gladly did. One obstacle that had to be overcome was the fact that the pews were too long to transport and had to be broken in half before they could be loaded onto the truck.

For two and a half years the Church was without a full-time minister. During this period, Claude Gillis, a former member of this congregation (now of the Leominister congregation), and Ralph Arnold, one of the local members (and long-time Treasurer for the congregation), shared the majority of the pulpit duties.

After meeting in the Educational Wing of the building for nearly two years, the congregation moved into the auditorium in August of 1971. Two months earlier, Reagon Wilson came from Harding University, to be the full-time minister, and stayed for 15 months before leaving to attend Sunset School of Preaching.

In 1974, Lyndall Jackson came to Worcester from Waxahachie, Texas, to be the new minister. He came with support from the College Church in Waxahachie and two other small congregations. He labored here for eleven years during which time the church experienced growth, both spiritually and numerically. This was accomplished with numerous campaigns and the personal support of members from Waxahachie. Vacation Bible School and much door knocking was conducted by members from there and Worcester.

In 1978, Bruce Rolling came to assist in the work here. He was supported by the Madison Church in Clarksville, Tennessee. Members from the Madison congregation also came to help in a campaign. In 1982, Bruce moved to Vermont to continue to work for the Lord.

In 1985, it was decided to hire Michael West, a graduate of Ohio Valley College, as Associate Minister. Jackson decided to leave at about this time, so Michael West was asked to be the full-time minister. He began in October of 1985, and stayed until 1988, when he accepted the ministry at a larger congregation in Mentor, Ohio.

He was succeeded in December of 1988, by Tim Alexander, who came to Worcester from Monticello, Arkansas, where he had been serving as the minister of the church there. On May 28, 1989, the Worcester Church of Christ “burned the mortgage,” for the building. An announcement was made at that time that the congregation was now self-supporting.

The Alexander family worked with us until March of 1994, when they moved to Albany, Georgia, to work with the church there.

The congregation was without a full-time minister for nine months. Randy Wooten, one of the members, preached much of the time and was named Associate Minister, serving in a part-time capacity.

In January, 1995, the Rogers family moved to Worcester from Portland, Tennessee, as Philip Rogers assumed the position of Minister of the Worcester Church of Christ. He left the congregation February 27, 1998.

In May, 1999, the Worcester congregation appointed elders. George Lindberg and Skip McGrail were ordained to serve the congregation as elders. Decker Clark performed the ordination ceremony.

In October, 1999, Patrick McGovern, Jr., a graduate of Ohio Valley College, became the full-time minister of the Worcester congregation. During the beginning of his ministry, Patrick faced many successes and challenges. In February, 2000, the congregation chose three men to serve as deacons. Ken Kaminski, Joe Jakubiak, and Chris Rondeau were selected to serve the congregation. After much heartache and turmoil the elders of the congregation stepped down. Due to this the deacons were also disbanded. The congregation suffered much loss both numerically and spiritually. God has continued to richly bless the congregation with visitors and people moving into the area, placing their membership at Worcester. In October 2000, David Tarbet, minister of the White Rock church of Christ in Dallas, TX preached an encouraging and uplifting gospel meeting at the Worcester congregation. It would seem that this meeting was the spark Worcester needed to relight the zeal of Christ in its heart.