By Chuck Smith
The First Christian Church of Odin, IL, organized in 1878, was begun to further the cause of Jesus. We continue to rejoice in the freedom we have in Christ. We are glad we can be "Christians only, not the only Christians," which shows our desire to fellowship with His entire worldwide church. Since our beginning, we have sought to honor the unity of the Lord’s entire church with our plea to all brothers and sisters in Christ to be Christians only.
We celebrate the grace of our Lord’s offer of forgiveness of all sin through Jesus Christ. It is in that grace we strive to exist and live. We consider the New Testament of Jesus Christ to be our only rule and guide of faith and practice in our congregation.
The congregation first met in a barn on the Renkin Farm and had 17 charger members. Soon after, they rented the W.E. Smith building in Odin and met there for 18 months.
The leadership elected at the organization of the congregation was James M. Hawley, evangelist; John A. Crow, elder; and Thomas Winks and Nathan Lane, deacons.
By the fall of the next year, 1879, a wood frame building, 32 x 44 feet, was built for $1,200.00. James M. Hawley and Seth Hill donated the two lots the building sits on.
On the first Sunday of 1880, the congregation first worshipped the Lord in its new home. J.M. Hawley preached the first message in the new house of worship. By 1881 it was recorded in Marion County History that the church had no mortgage and a membership of 110 persons.
At the building’s dedication, the congregation affirmed the following: "we set apart this house for the worship of God and for the service of this community. We will devote it to the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, to the education of Christians in spiritual truth, and to the growth in Christians characters." Their prayer was simply that the Lord would find them faithful in His Kingdom work and life.
The original building, well built out of oak, continues to serve as the worship center. Since then, much has been added. Instead of coal stoves, we now have modern heating and air conditioning. In 1940, the congregation raised the building up 4-5 feet, and dug a basement under it, which contained a fellowship hall and kitchen. After that was completed, the upstairs worship area was remodeled and redecorated.
In 1955, a nursery, restrooms, and a worship overflow area were added, which could also be divided into 3 classrooms. In 1983-1984, the congregation added a new fellowship hall, kitchen, and minister’s office, all of which as on ground level. At this time, they also converted the basement into classrooms. In 2009, work was completed on another addition, which includes 3 new restrooms, 2 of which are handicapped accessible; an enlarged foyer entrance; and an inside handicapped ramp for access to the worship center from ground level. At about the same time, the worship overflow area was remodeled.
The congregation continues to seek to carry out the Great Commission Jesus game His followers just before He returned to the Father. In partnership with other congregations, we seek to bring as many as will be saved into the Kingdom and into the joy of God and Father’s forgiveness and eternal life.