|Our Brethren History
One of the missions which was directed by
the Board of Southwestern Kansas and Southeastern Colorado was that at
Garden City. On April 1, 1904, when Elder S. E. Thompson and family of
Fredonia, Kansas, arrived at Garden City they found but two other
families of members in the city, namely, those of William and George
Wise (of the German Baptist Church) -- four members. It was very
difficult to get a foot-hold, since no suitable building for holding services was to be secured and the minister's house was inadequate.
However, Brother Thompson found that the Baptist Church was without a
pastor; therefore, the Brethren attended that church. Brother Thompson
obtained the privilege of preaching in this church one Sunday each
month. This arrangement continued for some months.
baptism into the Brethren Church was that of the janitor of the Baptist
Church, who, by the way, was a negro. The Brethren hesitated some time
in receiving him, fearing that this action might hinder their work, but
after some delay, baptism was administered. Their fears were found not
to have been justified.
In 1906 the membership had grown to
24 -- these members were from Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Kansas -- and a
formal church was organized. They purchased the former Christian Church
for $3,000. This church was located at Eighth and St. John Streets and
was originally built by the Friends Church.
In the December
29, 1906, edition of the Garden City Imprint (The Evening Telegram), it
was reported that a large party of German Brethren (called Dunkards)
from Ohio were expected to move to Garden City early in the year 1907.
In 1908 Annual Conference changed the name of the denomination from
German Baptist Brethren to the Church of the Brethren. In 1908 the
District Conference was held in Garden City. While children under five
were fed free, those older were charged full price, which was 15 cents.
In the fall of 1908, J. S. Carney, a minister in the first degree,
presented his letter. The presence of another minister in the
congregation led Brother Thompson to think that his services were no
longer needed. Accordingly, on February 4, 1909, he left Garden City,
then a church with a membership of fifty, to take up the work in
Lincoln, Nebraska. That summer, however, Brother Carney sold out and
moved away, leaving the congregation without a minister. For five and a
half years following this, the preaching was done by ministers from
surrounding churches. This naturally caused a lack of interest and more
or less dissatisfaction, resulting in the migration of several members.
Then the Mission Board of the district appealed to Brother Thompson to
resume his former post, which he agreed to do, and on June 15, 1914, he
returned to Garden City to find but twenty members remaining.
He set to work, however, with a will and in 1918, the membership had
reached the figure of fifty-five. On August 1, 1918, Brother Thompson
resigned the work and subsequently took pastoral charge at Clovis, New
Mexico. Howard D. Michael, formerly of Juniata, Nebraska, now became
pastor and elder.
In 1921, a
total membership of seventy was reported. In May 1921, Elder D. H.
Heckman, of McPherson, Kansas, moved to Garden City to take charge of
the church. Also in 1921, a committee was appointed to purchase a
piano. Despite some opposition to having instrumental music in the
church, a piano was purchased.
In 1929 George Burgin became pastor and attendance grew to over one
hundred. But the dust storms discouraged many farmers and they moved
away. So the church suffered a loss in members but grew strong again in
A building fund
was started for a new church building in 1949. In May of 1950 total
membership was 155. An electric organ was purchased and installed.
The parsonage, which had been north of the church building, was moved
to Albert Street. Ground breaking for the new church building was on
Easter Sunday, April 5, 1953.
Meetings continued to be held in the old church building and the new
church was built around it, to the north and west. The new church had
sanctuary seating for 210 with an overflow of 136 in the Fellowship
Hall. The estimated cost was $115,000.
Several pastors and many changes have come and gone through the years.
In 2003 we were an organization for 100 years, and in 2005 we
celebrated the 100th anniversary of the formal beginning of the
were greatly blessed in 2008, when twelve new members joined the church,
all on the same Sunday. In 2017, our membership is 100.
taken from “A History of the Church of the Brethren in Kansas” by Elmer LeRoy
Craik, A. M, Ph. D., published by the Author in 1922, McPherson, Kansas)