Our Heritage

The roots of Church of Christ grew in the early nineteenth century out of groups from Pennsylvania and Kentucky. Thomas and Alexander Campbell were instrumental in its beginnings. Thomas Campbell founded a movement known as the “restoration movement,” referring to its members’ goal of restoration of primitive Christianity: doing away with party names; being known only as Christians; and following the Bible as the only authority in matters of faith and practice. Thomas turned the dynamic leadership of the movement over to his son, Alexander, in 1810.

The decade of the 1820s marked an aggressive campaign by Alexander Campbell and his followers to "restore the church." The group became known as the Disciples of Christ. The Disciples of Christ and Barton W. Stone’s Kentucky group, known simply as Christians, merged over a period of several years. In the mid-1800's, a controversy led to the split of the Disciples of Christ. The splinter group called themselves the Churches of Christ.

The Church of Christ’s beliefs are based on the statement “where the Bible speaks, we speak; where the Bible is silent, we are silent.” It believes that there is no New Testament warrant for infant baptism, instrumental music, missionary societies (though it became increasingly mission-minded with the passage of time), creeds, or clerical titles, authority, and privilege. The Lord’s Supper is administered weekly, and baptism is by immersion. The church believes there is no creed but Christ, and there are no saving doctrines but those of the New Testament. It believes that each Christian has direct access to God through prayer, and that faith is a matter of individual conviction. Each church body is independent and self-governing, and each has elders and deacons (some also have pastors). The church believes that “all ordinances should be observed as they were in the days of the apostles.”

In 1954, Westside Church of Christ was an independent body, but was overseen by a church in Decatur, since it had deacons but no elders. The church members studied about elders and deacons, and in 1957-58, two men's names were put forth to be ordained as elders and approved by the entire congregation.

Presentation of the gospel was foremost at the church, and there was always an opportunity for people to come to Christ. Tithing was never taught, but everyone “gave as he prospered.” Baptism was by immersion, communion was administered weekly, and the church stressed reading, memorization, and the authority of the Bible. The elders presided over the meetings; elders and church members gave the weekly messages; and deacons carried out the maintenance of the church facility and treasurer duties.

In 1971, a group of members began meeting at the church on Monday nights to study the Bible. There was a great move of the Holy Spirit on members of the church to know, follow, and love God more. At the end of April, a church member received the baptism of the Holy Spirit with speaking in tongues. The baptism soon fell on many more members, and the Holy Spirit was in great evidence for five days doing signs and wonders. Very soon after this event, members and everyone acquainted with the church were called to the church for a meeting. The members that had been baptized by the Holy Spirit shared what had happened to them. They knew that baptism in the Holy Spirit did not save you, but it gave them power to live the Christian life in victory and closeness to God.

Services went on as usual, only with the addition of the presence of the Holy Spirit. At that time, there were no musical instruments at the church, but members were never taught that instrumental music was a sin. Several members of the group meeting on Monday nights received permission to bring their guitars to the meetings to sing praise songs. A girl stored her piano in the church until she found an apartment, and from that point on, the church had instrumental music during services. Many people were baptized in the Holy Spirit, healed, and delivered from evil spirits. Later that year the church left the Church of Christ organization to become a completely independent church. The name was changed from Westside Church of Christ to simply Westside Church.

There are now two elders who preside over the meetings and guide and oversee the members. The body believes in the traditional marriage and family with all members growing in the body of Christ. The elders do everything they can to strengthen and maintain godly relationships by all members. There are now three deacons who continue to carry out the maintenance of the church facility and treasurer duties.