our church history


First Christian Church.


In the fall of 1857, Reverend Thomas German organized a church from among twenty residents of Nevada City.  It was a time of toughness, simplicity and spiritual hunger.  They first met in the courthouse; then in 1860 in the one room frame school on the SW corner of our former high school grounds.  They called themselves “Christians,” taking pattern from Barton W. Stone and Alexander Campbell.  Their first building, a small white frame, set on the corner of Austin and Washington, was built at a cost of $4,000.   There was no baptistery or choir loft, but it had a belfry and a bell.  Members drove their teams to worship, picking up neighbors along the way.  For the next sixteen years, the church grew and prospered under ministers M.M. David, E.B. Cake, L.N. Early, R.J. Love, and D.D. Boyle. 

Following a rift over social behavior dictated by a “man made rule,” the Second Christian Church (Central Christian) and First Christian Church reconciled.   In 1896, two thousand people gathered for the cornerstone ceremony for the new larger red brick church building,  built under Rev. J. J. Lockhart total cost $30,000.

During the first and second World Wars, they had ministers of full of zeal; W.W. Burks, Levi Marshall, J. Arthur Stout, James A. Crain, Huell Warren, James H. Parrott, and Frank Aten.   Reverend Pliney Elliott came in August, 1946, as their 26th minister, and stayed longer than any other (1964).

The church celebrated its golden anniversary under Rev. Elliott in 1947.  500 signatures in gold ink filled the Golden Jubilee book. A noon basket dinner and songfest preceded the evening service, when two golden candelabra were lighted for the first time. Mrs. Chester Whitehead’s pipe organ prelude began the day.  Mrs. Harry McCarter’s solo, “The End of a Perfect Day,” ended a perfect day. In the following year, Rev. Elliott dedicated the new basement Bible School room for young adults. 

Six months later, disaster struck.  On Halloween, 1948, the church burned when it was struck by lightning.  Across the street at the high school, the Anti-Van dance continued.  Around midnight, the sanctuary roof collapsed igniting pews, pipe organ, pulpit, and fixtures.  The following morning, Sunday, at service time, church members came and stood in consternation before their ruined 51 year old church.  Rev. Elliott steered them to the nearby high school auditorium for Sunday school and church.  Over 200 attended, listening as he promised, “We will build at once.” 

Immediately every Nevada church had offered its facilities. The Board settled upon the Trinity Methodist at the corner of Arch and Cedar; and there for a year, for every service, attendance proved almost normal.

Inside 13 months, at a cost of $175,000.00, the church stood rebuilt and completely paid for, under the supervision of Francis Woodfill.  An education wing was soon added, also debt free. The copper box inside the corner stone, prepared by Wayne Spillman, contains a list of church officers, a list of church members, the Golden Jubilee booklet, and among other items, a history of the church written by Mrs. J.T. Hornback.  Over 1000 were in attendance for the dedication.

When Rev. Elliott suffered a heart attack and a serious knee injury in 1964, the church hired Mr. Keith Wilcox substitute in the pulpit.  Upon Rev. Elliott’s return from the hospital, twenty eight members under Mr. Wilcox decided upon a church of their own. They renovated the old Cumberland Presbyterian building on West Walnut and remain there today as the Community Christian Church.

In 1965, William Walter came, initiating two morning worship services, fellowship dinners, Christian Men’s, Women’s, and Youth Fellowships, and enriched the music programs.  “Recent” pastors include Max Wolfe, Dr. Daryl Donovan, Robin Ballard, Keith Mackey, Dr. Eldon Shaw, and Bill Platt.  Throughout the years, the church has been blessed with strong lay leaders, talented musicians and fine Christian educators.  The first Timothy sent from this congregation, John P. Thompson, recently retired in Lawrenceville, GA, after 40+ years in the ministry.  Others include, David McKinley, presently serving a church in Pennsylvania while obtaining his PhD, and Ed Sheridan, who ministers at two churches in Dawn, MO.

Still located at 204 S. Washington, they are called “Christians” as these are the names by which the followers of Christ were known; they practice immersion, as it is symbolic of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ; and observe Communion of the Lord’s Supper every Lord’s Day.  “We have no book but the Bible, no creed but Christ.” 

P.S. There is a complete history book of First Christian available from the church office at no charge.