The story of First Christian Church
This is the story of First Christian Church from its beginnings until now.
Thirty-five people on Sunday morning.
In 1855, thirty-five people got together in a large, empty meeting hall in downtown Canton to sing and hear teaching from the Bible. At the time, it was the first church of its kind in the city, born out of a movement that wanted to get back to the core teachings of the Bible and about Jesus, and to unite around an authentic, common faith for all people. While meeting places and ministries have changed with the years, that heart remains the same.
A big vision for a small church.
In 1902 a man named PH Welshimer stepped off a train in Canton, a new pastor at a little-known church. He later told about how when he stopped to ask for directions to the Canton First Christian Church, the person replied, “I have no idea where that is!” PH replied, “A year from now, everyone in the city will know where First Christian Church is.”
A large church and a legacy.
Under the leadership of PH, First Christian Church grew to be one of the largest churches in America at the time. He was known for a “larger than life” persona and willingness to do whatever it took to reach people with the good news of Jesus, whether that was leading a parade through downtown Canton on a Sunday morning, or putting a band on the roof of the church. Even today, some of Canton’s older generation hold memories of PH marrying them, performing a family funeral, or teaching the Bible.
Hope for hurting people
First Christian Church experienced decades of productive, personal ministry. With God’s grace and selfless sacrifice from ordinary people, we helped start brand new churches. Common Goods, a second-hand store which offered clothes and food to anyone who was struggling, opened up on the church campus. We started an annual Thanksgiving Meal that’s continued for the past 25 years. We inspired and encouraged people through decades of music and theater productions. And thousands of people were baptized and learned to follow Jesus at First Christian.
God's not done yet.
That’s the story of First Christian. It’s the mindset that, a few years back, led a handful of people to start a disability ministry at First Christian Church. It’s the same thought that led to new, refreshed vision for our church and our city: “Jesus for All People.” And that is the heartbeat of First Christian Church.
Jesus loves Canton.
We are not a church that only exists “in this city,” we are a church that exists “for this city.” We’re grateful to serve our community alongside dozens of other churches. We’re also privileged to work alongside our local ministry partners, Habitat for Humanity, Refuge of Hope, Pregnancy Choices, and Canton Christian Home. We believe Jesus loves this city, and so do we, and we will always be a church where Jesus is for all people.
Beyond these walls...
We believe God is not only calling us to make a difference on a local scale, but to have an impact on a national and global scale as well. We maintain impactful partnerships in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, and West Virginia as well as strategic missions partnerships in Haiti, England, Kenya, Zimbabwe. We believe that God has called us to be a compelling force for good in the world.