The first meeting of Community Christian Church was held on January 21st, 1973 in the High Rise building (Scottview Apartments). According to Celebration Committee member Jerry Witt, “We were going to meet in homes, but the phone rang off the hook that week, and we knew we’d have too many people for something like that.”
Jerry also said there were 63 people at that first meeting, a few of which still attend today, and “It has never been below that number since.” On Charter Sunday, a few weeks later on February 11th, there were 111 people in attendance, and 70 of those placed their membership. From the official first Sunday, the numbers continued to grow, and the congregation moved around to any accommodating place in Fort Scott. These places included the band room at the middle school on National, Fort Scott Community College, and the old 4-H building, along with the High Rise. Committee member Karen Billiard remembers the heart that original congregation had, shown in their willingness to clean the space they occupied each week. Specifically she said she remembers cleaning the 4-H building’s bathrooms every Saturday for a long period of time.
Nine months after establishing themselves as a non-denominational Christian church in the community, the single staff member, Leon Weece, and leadership of Community Christian Church broke ground for their own building on November 11th, 1973. This was made possible because the leadership at the time, Max Hayden, Rob Billiard, Bill Douglas, Richard Hixon, Jerry Witt, Tom Armstrong, and Bill Underkofler, each put their homes up as collateral for the building of the church.
The mission of the first congregation was to start a fundamental, Bible-based Christian church. In the beginning they were quoted as saying, “we have no creed but Christ. We follow no book but the Bible. We desire to be known simply as Christians.” From that ideology came the first mission statement of the church: “Exalt God. Edify the flock. Evangelize the lost.” When asked about the mission statement, committee member Karen Billiard said, “We have changed the wording to become more modern over time, but we have always stuck to those three basic missions of God, his plan, and his people.” About 15 years ago, give or take a few years, the statement was changed to “Love God. Love God’s people. Live God’s plan”, and two years ago, in 2021, the statement was modernized again to “We are a Community who loves Jesus, who wants to see Jesus loved by our community.”
Over the last 50 years, Community Christian Church has grown from the original 111 to nearly 500 people on any given Sunday, and the staff of one in 1973 has become a staff of eleven: six ministers, two administrative assistants, two custodians, and one intern. When asked about the best part of being a member of Community Christian Church, Committee members said, “the love our church family has for each other” (Robin Hartman), “knowing that we are a Bible-based church” (Billie Jo Drake), and “the fellowship and care each person has for every other person” (Karen Billiard). The current congregation meets on Sundays at 9:00 and 11:00 with a study hour between, and is always happy to see new faces walking through the doors.
The Committee for the 50th anniversary celebration began meeting in September of 2022 to plan a progressive service that will include elements of CCC’s first ever service and reflect how the church has evolved over the years. Leon Weece, the church’s first minister, will preach on the last 50 years and looking forward to the next 50 years. There will also be appearances from some of the charter members and Timothys - people the church has sent out to serve in ministries throughout the world. There will be a reception directly following the extended service where people will be encouraged to mingle and, if they wish, tell the crowd about what they remember from the “good ol’ days”, open-mic style.
Thank you to the Celebration Committee. They are: charter members, Sharon Campbell, Karen Billiard, Judy and Jerry Witt, and Robin Hartman, along with Rita Emmerson and Alan and Billie Jo Drake, who joined the church shortly after its inception, and Delynn Abati, who joined the church in 1997.
To watch the service, use this button: February 12th facebook live