Warren County Iowa Genealogical Society




    New Virginia Christian Church

    New Virginia Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), 646 Main St., New Virginia, IA 50210, built in 1894.


    “Still Using Original Building, New Virginia Christian Church Prepares for Its 100th Birthday,” by Vern CARPENTER, Osceola Sentinel Tribune, Osceola, Iowa, July 7, 1994

    The Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, at New Virginia celebrates its centennial Sunday, July 10, according to Wayne WEEKS, chairman of the church board. On Sunday, March 18, 1892, the Rev. H. F. MORRISON, state evangelist for the Christian Church “met in the Brethren Church and effected an organization of something over 25 members, four of whom were baptized in the afternoon.” MORRISON became the first pastor of the New Virginia Christian Church.

    In September, 1894, the Rev. F. E. BLANCHARD, a student at Drake University in Des Moines, was employed by the church “for the coming year.” In November that same year the congregation made preparation to erect a church building in the east part of town on a lot donated by Tom DECKER.

    The frame building cost $1,000.00 and was financed at least in part by a mortgage secured on the farm of Loren HARRIS, who with other members of the church. HARRIS was the paternal grandfather of Ruth HARRIS PATRICK of Indianola.

    Other founding families were the CARPENTER, DECKER, DICKINSON, FREDERICK, HAMILTON, HARSH, RUNDALL, SEPTER, SMITH, and WILSON families. Other families who joined during those early years and remained constant were the COULTER, CHURCH and BAILEY families, to name a few.

    The original church still stands. A basement has been added along with an entryway on both the front and rear of the structure. Frank CHURCH paid for the remodeling.

    Baptism, by immersion, takes place only when a person is old enough to realize the seriousness of the commitment. Each is asked to confess his or her belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. In clothing of their choice and while being supported by the minister, recipients are laid back in the baptismal water until immersed.

    Originally the church had a baptistery under the floor in front of the pulpit. When the basement was added, the baptistery was moved to behind the pulpit. During the years when Frank CHURCH lived across the street from the church, recipients went to their home to dry and change clothes. The baptistery was removed from the church around 1950. Since that time, recipients have been baptized in both the Woodburn and the St. Charles Christian Churches as well as in the First Baptist Church in Indianola. On occasion, as required by necessity, baptism has even been effected in a farm pond.

    Student preachers from Drake Divinity College played an important role in the ministry of the church. One of these who won a special place in the hearts of the congregation was the Rev. E.E. STRINGFELLOW who served his first pastorate at New Virginia and later became a professor at Drake. During his pastorate, 1908-1919, STRINGFELLOW came by train from Des Moines on Saturday afternoon and returned by train Monday morning arriving in time to attend his 8 o’clock class. In later years, he returned to New Virginia on special occasions to officiate at funerals of his former parishioners. Incidentally, STRINGFELLOW never owned an automobile.

    Another respected minister (1945-1947) was James DeBUSK, a railroad section hand, who began his successful ministry while a layman of the church. The Rev. Cecil MURROW labored long and hard for this church (1962-1971), and his efforts brought a number of young people into the congregation. The Rev. C. C. GLENN and wife, Alta, of Mitchellville made the 126 mile round trip on Sunday mornings from 1971-1989. He was honored as pastor emeritus after ill health caused him to resign. Mrs. GLENN sometimes added spiritual food through her readings and poems. Pastor James C. PATRICK, well known in Warren County, served from 1989 to 1991. Both he and his wife, Ruth, were originally from the New Virginia area and have childhood ties to the church. The present minister, the Rev. J. E. TREVILLYAN, who also serves Lacona, started in 1992. He is a full-time psychiatric technician at Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines.

    Other church officers are: board chairperson, Wayne WEEKS; treasurer, Gene BOLES; secretary, Ruth BOLES; Sunday School secretary-treasurer, Mary HAINES. The church has been blessed for many years by the present and participation of two members who are now past 80 years of age: Mary HAINES and Grace WEEKS. HAINES is usually the first person to arrive at church Sunday morning where the rest of the congregation finds her with a dust mop in her hand, humbly serving the Lord by keeping his house clean. Elsie BALDAUF of Marion, Ohio, is another octogenarian who continues to keep in touch with her old church with encouraging letters and gifts of money.

    “The present generation is grateful for the faithfulness of past members in preserving and passing on the faith which inspires and sustains us,” said Leota HOULETTE, church historian, speaking for the congregation. “May we be as faithful in preserving it for generations to come.”

    The Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, of which the New Virginia Church is a part, has world-wide ministry with a regional office in Des Moines and national headquarters in Indianapolis. Open house is planned for Sunday afternoon, July 10 in conjunction with the New Virginia Old Settlers celebration, the same weekend. A 112 page history of the church will be available for $10.00. Reminiscent of the circuit riding preacher, the Rev. TREVILLYAN will ride a mule to the park to conduct community worship at 10:30 a.m. Bring your own lawn chairs. A program of music will be presented at the church at 2 p.m. followed by refreshments and an afternoon of visiting and remembering. Former pastors have been invited. Leota HOULETTE contributed material to this article. Vern CARPENTER is an Indianola resident and a retired educator.