First Christian Church to celebrate 150 years in Perry on Sunday

Allison Ullmann
Perry Chief
First Christian Church will celebrate 150 years in Perry on Sunday, Oct. 24.

First Christian Church will celebrate 150 years in Perry on Sunday.

“Just celebrating 150 years, it’s a lot of ministry, a lot of people who have been in and out of these doors, learning things about faith, growing in faith, all of those kinds of things,” Rev. Andrea Brownlee said.

The celebration will start during the regular worship time of 10 a.m. A soup supper will follow downstairs in the fellowship hall. Sunday’s theme will revolve around the family tree as Brownlee will be talking about different parts of the tree and “how sometimes branches fall off, leaves blow away, but you’re still part of that tree.”

She added that everyone is welcome to attend Sunday’s celebration, whether they have a connection to the church or not.

“If somebody wants to join in the celebration and see what we’ve done and also see where we’re headed, that’s also part of 150 years of ministry,” Brownlee said. “We’re talking about how in the last year we’ve gone through a lot of changes and it’s not the first time that the church has had to change.”

First Christian Church has seen a lot of changes since it was organized in 1871. It was founded a couple years after Perry became a community and Brownlee said a small group saw a need for another church.

What that church has looked like has changed over the years. The first building was a one-room frame structure built in 1881 on the corner of 2nd and Lucinda. The second building was built in 1898 on the corner of 3rd and Lucinda. The church started planning for a new building in 1947, which was completed in 1951.

First Christian Church will celebrate 150 years in Perry on Sunday, Oct. 24 with a worship service followed by lunch.

Fast-forward 70 years and the church went through additional changes during COVID-19.

Brownlee said they shifted gears pretty quickly to move to an online worship service through the church Facebook page. Services then started playing on the radio, which Brownlee said was a nice addition as it gave another outlet for people to listen to worship.

Services were held outside in summer of 2020 before moving back to an online format in the winter. In-person worship started up again on Easter Sunday of 2021. Brownlee added that the congregation will sing again during the 150th celebration on Oct. 24. Though even that celebration was delayed a year because of COVID-19.

“We’re slowly getting back to ‘normal,’ but we’re also working on what that new normal looks like because we know it will be different,” Brownlee said. “(We’re) keeping the reminder that worship hasn’t always been what it was, it changes over time because people change over time. We’re just in another phase of changing the way that we do church and life together.” 

One constant that she has seen over her five years serving as the pastor has been the congregation’s community outreach. The church has served the community through a number of youth groups, service projects, mission trips and more. One of the recent outreach programs has been the Clothes Closet, which started around 15 years ago to provide clothes at no cost to community members.

“Just always finding ways to help the community, that’s been the thread that moves through this congregation no matter who’s serving as the pastor, no matter how many people are here for Sunday worship,” Brownlee said. “The community and serving the community has always been a part of what they do.”

That desire to serve the community is one aspect that will be celebrated on Sunday, she said, as it’s a desire that’s still present today in the congregation.

“As I look back at different things that have happened, I hope that’s at least one of the threads that continues on, I hope 150 years into the future. That’s a big part of who this congregation is,” Brownlee said. 

She invites the community to come out on Sunday for the worship service, soup supper and fellowship. The afternoon will wrap up with s’mores around the fire pit. 

“If they have a connection, or even if they don’t, if they want to come help us celebrate the ministry of this congregation, they’re welcome to join us at 10 a.m. on Oct. 24. Or on any other Sunday,” Brownlee said.

First Christian Church as seen on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. The church will celebrate 150 years in Perry on Sunday, Oct. 24.