By Todd Travis
A community staple
On June 26, Garfield Christian Church will celebrate its 100th anniversary. Since the beginning, this church has made a significant impact on its surrounding community. It provides a myriad of different services and programs at no charge including food pantries, concerts, athletic programs, carnivals and fish fries. Soon it will partner with St. Francis to host a health fair. Fred Sigle has been the preaching minister at the church for the past 13 years. “As my wife and I were driving around the neighborhood, we saw tons of kids and families and we thought ‘this is where we need to be’ and that’s why we stayed and that’s why I’ve been here for 13 years,” Sigle said.
A long history
Garfield Christian Church was started by the old Sixth Christian Church, now Fountain Square Christian Church. At the time, founders saw a need for a Christian church in the Garfield Park/Bean Creek area and a few families volunteered to start this one. The property they found was in the Bean Creek neighborhood. They had their first service on June 4, 1922, which was held on the corner of Bradbury and Boyd streets. The building was built with many volunteer hours at a final cost of $2,500. They used a donated library table for their first communion table. On April 3, 1960, they moved into their Walker Street location and have been there ever since. “We have members from our church that were here day one when we moved to this location 63 years ago,” Sigle mentioned. “We have people here who have said, ‘I was the second person baptized at this location,'” he continued.
The strength to stand
Over the years, many churches have come and gone in the area. Garfield Christian Church has stayed because of a strong commitment to the people in the community. “Some of the longtime members would tell you how the neighborhood has changed from being a growing economic community. It’s not that anymore. Instead of people coming in to move and buy houses in the area we have more transient people who come and go. So a big part of our ministry is benevolence.” Sigle explained. “Even though we had opportunities to move, we had leaders at this church that said they did not want to leave. The whole purpose of the church was to be ministering to the neighborhood, even though the neighborhood changed. And that’s why we’re still here,” he continued.
Along with churches across America, the pandemic had its effect on Garfield Christian Church. “Covid certainly did a number on us, and we’ve had some families who have still not been able to make it back to the church. But we do offer online services in an effort to reach people who are unable to attend,” Sigle said. “We are gradually starting to build back up again.” In spite of challenges faced, the church has managed to continue serving its community and provide programs and services that are much needed. The 100-year milestone is a testament to the dedication the church and its members have maintained through change, struggles and growth.
Celebrating 100 years
The day of the celebration will begin at 10 a.m. The church will hold its normal praise and worship service followed by lunch at noon. The celebration service will start at 1:30 p.m. The event’s goal is to gather people who have some connection with the church. In addition to community members, a few former ministers will be joining to share their experiences with the church, including Tom Franklin, a minister at the church for 17 years. Scott Davis and Randy Sparks, former youth ministers, will be there as well. Sigle has asked that any members who can’t attend share memories and events by email or letter, which will be read at the celebration as well. “It’s going to be like a big family reunion,” said Sigle.
For more info on Garfield Christian Church and the 100-year celebration, visit garfieldcc.org.