Warren County Iowa Genealogical Society




    Norwalk Christian Church

    Norwalk Christian Church, 751 Main St., Norwalk, IA 50211, dedicated in 1872.


    History of the Norwalk Christian Church, from the The History of Warren County, Iowa, containing a History of the County, Its Cities, Towns, etc Union Historical Company, Des Moines, Iowa, 1879

    The Christian Church at Norwalk was organized in 1866, with a class of twenty members. The church building was erected in 1872, during the pastorate of Elder GASTEN. Elder Wessel STEVENSON is the present pastor. Present membership is 125. Raised last year for pastor support, $800.00. This church maintains a Ladies Aid Society of thirty members. Mrs. Stephany is President. W.F. DESENGERG is Sunday School Superintendent. The Sunday school has an enrollment of 120. Annual incidental expense of this church is $100.00.

    Norwalk Christian Church, written by Dr. Paul E. BECKER, copied from the History of Warren County, Iowa, by Gerard SCHULTZ and Don L. BERRY, The Record and Tribune Company, Indianola, Iowa, 1953, pages 119-151

    "We, a few names of the Church of Christ in order to enter into a Church Relation have on this 2nd Lord's Day, October 10th, AD 1869, began an Organization." So reads the first entry in the first record book of the Norwalk Christian church.

    From that desire and need of those early Christian people has grown the church in which we now worship. In the beginning the church services were held in various places: for awhile in the old Center schoolhouse. Often in nice weather the meetings took place under the old covered bridge over North river. In 1871 most of the services were held in the first Norwalk schoolhouse which stood on the present Jim WRIGHT property. Brother ROACH was the first minister and was lovingly called "Uncle Roach" by all.

    On Christmas day, 1871, a group of thirteen men met to sell shares and sign a "Bond of Agreement" to make possible the purchase of a lot and the erection of a church building, thereon. The signers of that "Bond of Agreement" were: Isaac PERKINS, Wear CASSIDAY, David LYMPUS, W. CASE, James GRIFFITH, Samuel REEVES, John PATRICK, Will HARING, E. H. HUFFMAN, Bluford HIGGINS, E. HARRON, Crawford HOGUE and Jim LOCKRIDGE. The church building was 36 by 40 feet. It was built by George CASE and Jake DILLARD at a cost of $1,761.14. Dr. FUNK, a Baptist minister, dedicated the new church the first Sunday in December, 1872. By 1875 there were ninety-seven members.

    The appearance of the church remained much the same until the coming of Dr. and Mrs. A. N. SIMPSON in March, 1915. Under their leadership the members remodeled the church at a cost of $2,287. Dean A. M. HAGGARD of the Drake Bible college dedicated the new building in February, 1917. The SIMPSONS served the church a total of seventeen years.

    It is interesting to note that Dr. SIMPSON’S widow and Brother and Sister B. F. GALLAWAY, who served the church as ministers for eight years, are still active workers there.

    In 1949 the people once more rallied to a dire need and remodeled the parsonage at a cost of $8,100. For the first time in seven years they called a full-time minister to the field. Dr. and Mrs. Paul E. BECKER completed their second year December 1, 1951. The resident membership now stands at 135. The church owns two residences other than the parsonage in Norwalk.

    While the church is incorporated in the name of the Norwalk Christian church, it is affiliated nationally with the Disciples of Christ, and it shares regularly in the organized life of that body of Christians.

    May we close this church history with a quotation by William PENN, "Men must be governed by God or they will be ruled by tyrants."

    History of the Norwalk Christian Church, written for the June 4, 1972 dedication, from “Data on Warren County Churches” at the State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines, IA, film # War-56 (LDS film # 1034022)

    The first building of the Norwalk Church of Christ (Disciples) was built in 1872, one hundred years ago. An organization had been formed three years earlier and meetings held in different places. By this time thirty-seven people were enrolled as members. The first church was 30 feet by 46 feet with an 8 foot by 12 food vestibule in front. Fourteen men agreed to pay for it, each pledging a share or fraction of a share. The contract was for $1450.00, but the total cost was $1761.19. It was dedicated Dec 1, 1872 with $521.34 unpaid or not pledged. Brother CHEATHAM preached the sermon and $396.00 was received that day and pledges made for the balance. As money became available, a communion table was purchased, a platform built, a baptistery installed, and furnishings added.

    Men of the church served when ministers were not available. Protracted meetings were often held with great success. In 1916, a basement was built and the church remodeled for $2000.00. At the dedication Feb 11, 1917, when Brother HAGGARD preached, pledges for $2287.00 were received and the church soon became free of debt.

    In 1957, pledges were taken toward a new building and three years later a building committee was named: Chairman, Claude BISHOP, Co-Chairman, M. M. MORSE, Edgar WILSON, John L. HILDRETH, Warren BISHOP, Mrs. June NEWBY, Mrs. Josie BARKLEY, Larry GRIFFITHS, Henry CLARKE, Mrs. Helen DILDINE, Secretary, and Rev. Mark WETTELAND, Minister.

    An educational unit was erected at a cost of $77,370.00 and was first occupied on Dec 4, 1960. The old church was then razed. It was agreed that no dedication would be held until a sanctuary had been added, but Open House was held May 28, 1961. About this time, A.E. EASTER established a “Sanctuary Fund” and during the years that followed, generous gifts and then pledges added to it until there was approximately $45,000.00 on hand.

    In 1971 the congregation voted to build the sanctuary and a building committee was named: Warren BISHOP, Chairman, Gary BALL, Edgar WILSON, Wallace WOOD, Frank CONKLING, Emmett LIGGITT, and William McCONKEY. On June 18, a contract was let to Eggers Bilt Homes of Norwalk. The committee and others did much to save costs on electrical equipment, wiring costs, clean-up work, etc. Our pastor, Val JOHNSON, has been available at all times for meetings, errands, work, consultation, and probably spent more time on the job than any other man. We do appreciate him, and we do thank him.

    A Christmas Eve musical program, with other churches co-operation, was held in the new building before it was completed, and church services followed on Dec 31, 1971. It was first occupied for regular use on Feb 5, 1972. A total of $127,460.00 is invested in the new building, and $9890.00 was spent in the old part, mostly for air conditioning, carpet, painting – both inside and outside. Most of the pews, and furnishings for the lounge, have been paid for with special gifts from members.

    Ministers of the church have occupied three different parsonages – the first one brought by the Ladies Aid for $75.00, and the present one a gift of the late Dr. C.A. and Mrs. Jennie WILLETT home, with remodeling amounting to $10,800.00. This amount, as well as a small balance against the Educational building, has been paid.

    There have been a great enthusiasm for the building of the Church of Norwalk. Fifteen new members were baptized at Easter time and there have been a number of transfers in recent months. The membership is now 244.