Our History


  The First Christian Church of Garnett, KS was organized in the fall of 1857 by John Ramsey, at the home of Cornelius Anderson, with thirty members. They met in homes for a year, then in a schoolhouse and a community hall until their church was built in 1871. The rough lumber was cut on South Pottawatomie Creek, south of Garnett. And the finishing lumber was hauled from Kansas City by oxen. The original church building was one straight with five windows on each side, and candles were used for additional light. (This part later became part of what is now the coffee bar and offices).

  In 1878, Sunday School was organized by Henry Martin, the congregation's fourth pastor. Martin, a farmer from Princeton, drove a team of horses to Garnett to be with the church on Sunday's and when needed.  In the 1880s an organ was purchased and a baptistry was added. Heat was provided by a coal stove.

  As the town grew and families joined the church, plans were made to make the first addition to the building. Classrooms were added to the north side between 1903-12; also a baptistry and dressing room on the south and the pews were changed to face the south. When the 50th anniversary was celebrated in 1907 the membership was 192. Two more rooms were added to the north by 1927, the last addition in the old church.

  With the world at war from 1914-1919, many churches in Garnett found it difficult to survive. Several Protestant churches formed a community church in order to consolidate members. With faith and vision, the few members of the Christian church continued their Kingdom work and the ministry of the church was kept alive. J. W. Famuliner was called as pastor September 1, 1920 and many new families were added. In 1921 the house East of the church building was purchased for a parsonage. During the ministry of C. H. Brown (1924-25) a youth fellowship was organized, and during the ministry of C. C. Scitern (1926) the third addition to the building was completed, two rooms to the North.

   In the next two decades the ministers serving the church were: Sam Braden, J. A. Harper, Chester Jacobs, Guy Eslick, Emmanuel Jones, M. D. Bryant, Louis Kirchner, and Ralph Hamon.

It was during the pastorate of Clarence Stanke that the first Christian Church News was published, November 5, 1945. Also at this time there was discussion concerning a new building and a building fund was created.

   In 1945, committees were appointed and a start was made on the Building Fund for a new church building. June 22, 1947, Sherman Kirkpatrick was called as minister. Early in 1949 the existing church building was moved south thirty-nine feet, and on April 24, 1949, ground breaking ceremonies were held. The corner stone was laid on October 16, 1949. One year later, October 29, 1950, the church building was dedicated. The educational building was dedicated June 19, 1955, after additions and remodeling. The completed new facility was entirely free of debt, built with free will offerings and much donated labor. Mr. Kirkpatrick served the church until November 1955. His eight and one-half year pastorate was the longest of the 42 ministers who had served up to that time.

  Roy Barnett was called May 6, 1956 and during his first year 108 were added to the church. Sunday, November 10, 1957 the church observed its 100th Anniversary with a Centennial program in the afternoon.

  The church history, which had been written by Olin Wildman and Marcella Wildman Burton as related to them by Lucius Wildman, was read at this time. Dr. Orval Morgan of Midwest Christian College gave the address. Work began on a new parsonage in July 1957 on the corner lot of Third and Walnut. Upon the completion of the foundation, work was suspended until there were adequate amounts in the building fund to proceed. In June, 1958, M. M. Scott was called as pastor and a year later a church lending library was established. Construction on the parsonage resumed in November 1959 and work was completed in June 1960. Dedication of the parsonage and an "open house" was observed on June 19, 1960. Mr. Scott and family moved into their new home June 22nd and the former parsonage was sold and moved. On October 16, 1960 the library was dedicated in memory of Lucius and Maud Wildman.

  Mr. Charlie Stewart filled the pulpit many Sundays during the summer of 1961. In August 1961 Ronald Burt was called and began as pastor on September 10. In March 1962 a new organ was purchased. In 1963 the membership record showed 397 members. Many improvements were made over the next few years and air-conditioning was installed in the summer of 1965 along with a new finish on all the sanctuary furniture. The property to the East of the building was purchased in 1967. The Burt family left in July 1971 for a pastorate in Arizona. Their 9 year 10 month ministry stands as the longest of any minister till then.

  Earl Hoyle began working with the church in November 1971 and continued until his retirement in May 1981. The various activities of the church continued with special emphasis on youth, church camp, women's groups, Bible study groups, and volunteers to the nursing homes.

  Kendal Bates began service in August 1981. Much preparation was made in order to celebrate the 125th Anniversary of the church on October 17, 1982. Larry Frew, a Timothy of the church, gave the address with many members reminiscing. Several former ministers and students sponsored in Bible College also participated in the afternoon program. Greetings were read which included letters from President Ronald Reagan, Senators Nancy Kassebaum and Robert Dole, Governor John Carlin, Representative Bob Whittaker, Presidents of Bible Colleges, and many other ministers and friends. The Bates family accepted a pastorate in Paola, Kansas in July 1986, and in March, 1987, Tony Venturella began serving with the church. His departure was in June, 1989.

1999 marked the 50th Anniversary of the sanctuary building project. Several of those who donated time and energy to the project in 1949 and saw it through to completion still serve the church faithfully.

  Gary Benjamin began immediately serving as Interim Minister and later became the Senior Minister. His term of service lasted until December 31, 2006, and is the longest term in the history of the church. 

  Tony Thornton was the Minister elect with his ministry overlapping with Gary Benjamin the fall of 2006. He was a "home town boy" having grown up in Garnett, but spent his many years pastoring in New York before returning back to his home church.  He became the Senior minister January 1, 2007-November 2010.  March 1st, 2008, Chris Goetz accepted his call to FCC under Tony Thornton as the Youth & Children's Pastor.

  Gary Benjamin served as Interim Minister for 5 months until April of 2011 when FCC extended the call to Darrel Herde until 2015.  Gary Benjamin again served part time as an Interim Minister to help the transition.   After 6 years as Youth & Children's Pastor Chris Goetz was transitioned to Lead Pastor December 6, 2015.

3 city lots, to the south of our building were purchased and the homes removed to make parking spaces for our growing church.  August 7th, 2016 a ground breaking ceremony was held to begin the newest addition for the FCC property.  The multipurpose building to the East was built with new kitchen and pantry, youth room, 3 Sunday School Classes, storage and beautiful beam frame similar to the 1949 sanctuary.  We were able to start using our new building in March of 2017.  Volunteer then converted the old kitchen and part of the old fellowship hall into a sound proof nursery for our children.

In 2021, with the help of many volunteers organized by Josiah Honeycut as his Eagle Scout project, a playground was added for our FCC children and our community.

  The First Christian Church has had a glorious past. Many of its young people have been trained for vocational Christian service. It has made an impact in the community since 1857 as it has stood for faith and hope in our good God. Now, as a new generation comes of age, we look to the future with anticipation of what God will do in our midst. With over 400 members, we will continue to make church history as we seek His will, yield to His Spirit, exalt His Word, and labor for the sake of His Name. 


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