Making & Maturing Disciples
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The Merced church of Christ History

The following information was taken from a directory printed in the early1960s. In the spring of 1937, a few Christian families began meeting in Hann's Funeral Home in Merced.  Through the efforts of Bro. T.M. Craig, and Bro. J.E. Wainwright the congregation was firmly established during that first year.
As the small congregation progressed, it moved to the Sun Room, and later the Auditorium, of the Merced Woman's Club House.  The preaching was done by Bro. Craig, the singing was led by Bro. Erskin Garrison of Chowchilla, and the one Bible class was taught by Brother J.W. Romine.

In 1945, the growth of the church necessitated moving to the Bear Creek Grange Hall, where they worshipped for three years.  Brother Mansur would come every weekend, from Oakland, to preach. He would come up Saturday by bus and spend the night with members.

The land on 22nd Street, on which our first building was built, was donated by Mr. and Mrs. Henry King, Lota Mae Motherwell and Jim King’s parents. Brother Mansur was very instrumental in seeing that the building was built.   The preacher's house and church building were built in 1948 on these two lots.  This was the congregation's home for the next five years.

This was our first permanent home in Merced, we had been moving from place to place." Brother Mansur did some of the preaching, but was more of a song leader.  Ross McGinnis was the first preacher hired
In August 1952, Brother Clint Lovelady was hired as the preacher.  He felt that the church needed to move to a better location.  He feared no one would find them at their present location and with Brother Lovelady's encouragement six lots on the corner of Yosemite Parkway and Edwards were purchased.  The cost of all six lots was $6,500.  One Sunday in October   1952, a special contribution was taken and $4,310 was raised.  The congregation borrowed the difference and purchased the six lots.  After selling the building on 22nd Street the loan was paid off
The building was built by countless members and even some non-members. .  Everyone would come down after work during the week, as well as all day Saturday, and work on completing the construction of the building.   After working all day on Saturday they would have a huge potluck.

The new building was completed in 1953 and is still in use, with very few changes to the auditorium itself.  The biggest change to the auditorium was the construction of the nursery.  Originally the capacity of the auditorium was around 600, after the nursery was constructed from the back part of the auditorium, the capacity dropped to about 400.      The new building had an auditorium, three classes upstairs, and six classes downstairs as well as a baptistry, kitchen, and fellowship hall.  

The dedication was held on Easter Sunday 1953.  All seats were filled, they even had to put out chairs.  Clint Lovelady presented the lesson that morning.  

But we quickly grew and needed more room.  While Brother Lovelady was still here we added the West Wing, these were four outside classrooms separate from the main building.   When Brother Mitten was here the building was filled in with the hallway, elders office, and other rooms.  The next addition was the East Wing.  At that time, what is now the fellowship hall was enlarged and the bathrooms and classrooms on that side were added. 
As we grew and needed a larger building our parking lot also needed to be expanded.  On May 21, 1978, escrow papers were signed for the lot across the street.  The lot itself was $30,000 and it cost an additional $26,000 to develop the land into a parking lot.

In 1993 a new, complete library was started.  The members donated books or money for books, and the library quickly grew to over 700 books.   On January 2, 1994, the library was dedicated to Andy Anderson.  The library door bears the brass plaque with his name.

While it is easy to tell a history of an organization by a time-line of it’s building, it is well known that the church is not her edifices of brick and mortar, but the church is her people, her family.           
Over the sixty nine years of the existence of the church of Christ in Merced, literally thousands have been members here, have worshipped, and worked for the Lord in this place

It is remembered by several of the original member's children that the following people were charter members in 1937.  It was noted in an old directory that the total number of charter members was seventeen.

Charter Members
T.M. Craig and wife,   Erskin and Ruby Garrison and family,  Curt and Lela O'Hagen and family, J.E. Wainwright , Stafford family , Sister Hanley Haskel  and Flora Bell Conove
Erskin Garrison, originally from Chowchilla, helped start the church in 1937.  He was the song leader.    He went with the preacher to different places to lead the songs.   He was also a Bible school teacher.  His son, George, is a preacher, and two of George's sons-in-law are preachers.  
The statistics of our congregation come mostly from weekly bulletins.  Since we do not have any bulletins prior to 1957 and we have none for the early 1960s there is a void of over twenty-five years.    But the records that we do have show at least 435 baptized at the Merced church of Christ.  These bulletins report that over 481 have placed membership.

And of course, Christians from this congregation died here--men and women who built, worked, prayed, and gave their best for this church in Merced.  We have to take heart and believe the scriptures when they tell us that these people have gone on to a better place and that, if we remain faithful, we will join them in the end.
Castle Air Force Base supplied the Merced congregation with a lot of good faithful workers.  As soon as they transferred in, they'd place membership, and get right to the Lord's work.  We don't have a list of their names, but if we did it would be a long one .      

From almost the beginning, the Merced church of Christ has been Biblically organized with elders.  Here again, our records are not as complete as we would like them to be.  Bulletins and recollections have helped us put together the following list .

Merced's Previous Elders    
B.C. O'Hagan, Billy Daniel,  Henry King, Herman Kenney,  J.W. Romine,  Clint Lovelady,  Jim Finch, Andy Anderson, Bill Lawler, Ray Gill, Hubert Morgan, Brother Pipes,  J.P. Williams, Ed Rodgers, Jim King, Bob  Anderson, Bill Bonifay, Don Anderson, Rod Hawkins
Merced’s Current Elders: Jim Holland and Aaron Beene

Her Previous Preachers
It would be interesting to have a list of all of the men who ever preached a sermon at the Merced church of Christ.  But we don't have that list.  However, we believe that we do have a complete list of the men who worked here as "located" preachers.  Most of this information comes from the memories of members. 
T.M. Craig, Haskel Conover, Brother Mansur, Ross McGinnis, Clint Lovelady, Paul King, C.H. Wells, Floyd Mitten, James King, Larry Rushing, Edward L. Rodgers, Doug Hall, J. P. William, Ray Andregg, Steve Orduno, Rob O'Hara, Jim Holland, Mike Sherman, Brandon Hamilton, Nick Perez, and Mike Elledge.

The current preacher is Jim Holland.

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