MILTON-FREEWATER -- A church founded long before Milton and Freewater joined to form the city will celebrate its 125th anniversary Sunday.
First Christian Church's celebration will include a morning worship service, followed by a potluck fellowship dinner and celebration. The community is invited to join in worship and the celebration.
The church was founded in 1886 in Milton by John Newton Stone Jr. and W.T. Wright. Stone previously had helped establish the first bank and newspaper in Milton and owned a pharmacy. Wright and Stone worked with the Rev. John B. Daisley, a missionary from a church in Dayton.
"Daisley was commissioned by the American Christian Missionary Society to go West," said Steve Lyons, the senior minister at the church.
The church was formed as part of the "Restoration Movement," which sought to restore the ideas of the New Testament Church and unite people under the church.
"It's part of the restoration or unity movement, uniting all believers under the banner of Jesus Christ," Lyons said.
The first meeting of what is now the First Christian Church was held Nov. 23, 1886, in the North Methodist Church in Milton. Later, the congregation met above a local saloon before deciding to build its own church in 1887.
The original church was built on the same site as the current church. In 1906, the building was expanded to add a baptistery. Then in 1918, First Christian Church built a completely new church building that is the structure still in use today. Many congregation members volunteered their time and donated labor and materials for the construction.
Lyons notes the church is thriving today with a congregation of about 150 people. Lyons hopes to add a family pastor to the staff.
"Presently we are looking at expanding ministry opportunities. We're trying to hire a family pastor that focuses on family and children," he said.
According to Lyons, the congregation is very active in the community.
"We are a body of believers who are living and sharing our faith in Jesus Christ, but also are very active in serving our community," he said.
"There are many members who have and are coaching sports teams, managing businesses, serving as foster parents, and are volunteering in scouting programs, hospitals, the Chamber of Commerce, benevolent and fraternal organizations, as well as numerous civic improvement projects. We have been blessed to live in Milton-Freewater and desire to be a blessing in return."
At the celebration, there will be many historical photos and memorabilia that illustrate the church's development over the past 125 years.
"We've got a plethora of historical material and scrapbooks that they're pulling out for the celebration," Lyons said. "They've kept a fairly meticulous record of the happiness within the community and congregation"
The celebration is open to the public. First Christian Church is at 518 S. Main St.