The proposal below was written for and as part of Central's ongoing discernment process that for the last three months has been coached by Eddie Hammett. See cccdt.org/future for more on that process.
A Path For Christian Ministry at 4711 Westside
Honoring and building upon the legacy of Central Christian Church of Dallas
Offered for your consideration by Pastor Ken G. Crawford on June 29, 2020
PREMISE: Central Christian Church of Dallas was formed, repeatedly relocated, and renamed over multiple generations - to the glory of God, for the furthering of the gospel of Jesus Christ, to draw people to him as faithful disciples and to build the kingdom of God on earth as in heaven (See Matthew 28:16-20). This is our heritage and the legacy that we seek to honor. (Brief History)
PROPOSAL: I would submit that we need to strongly privilege work that continues not just blessing people in Jesus’ name but planting and building churches for coming generations. If, as some believe, the current expression of Central Christian Church of Dallas has reached the end of it’s lifespan, then let us direct those same resources to the planting of new communities of faith that will continue to fulfill the commission that gave us birth. We have heard this suggestion over recent years from multiple voices, including those of elders, who believed the above and openly proposed directing our attention to a new church start.
RATIONALE: Though the congregation has not been able to attract new committed participants, nearly everything else on the campus has, including our anchor partner Connecting Point, the Central Dog Park, The Berean Church, The Gathering Church, the 12 Step groups, and our newest campus initiatives, Central Westside Coworking and Wellness. Prior to the Covid-19 Pandemic a diverse group of more than 1000 people were regularly on our campus each month, focused on fellowship, learning, personal growth, creativity, health and serving others. Additionally we had strong hands-on and face-to-face connections with the campus and community of Maple Lawn Elementary. All of this has aligned with our mission statement and missional priorities:
As followers of Jesus Christ,
we partner with our neighbors to experience God’s transforming love.
We do this specifically through prioritizing
Diversity and Inclusion, Creativity and the Arts, and Wholeness and Flourishing.
We have steadily increased the good will of our neighbors toward our campus because of the Christian hospitality we are offering and the community impact work we are doing in Jesus’ name. All of these relationships, and those extending from them, provide abundant opportunities for launching multiple new communities of faith that can extend Central’s legacy well into future generations. These communities will look, sound and feel very different from Central and likely from each other. They will connect with people in ways beyond what Central can do. In the same way that we recognize our children and grandchildren organize, communicate and engage their world very differently, so will their churches. Central Christian Church can gift and pay forward the legacy that was gifted to us to advance that work of New Churches in North Texas and beyond.
POSSIBLE STEPS FORWARD:
Matthew 28: 16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ NRSV from Oremus.org
Brief History: Organized in 1863, under the headship of teacher and preacher Charles Carlton, the congregation originally held services in Mr. Carlton’s log cabin schoolroom in present-day Downtown Dallas.
The meetings were moved a few months later to the records building of the Dallas County Courthouse in downtown Dallas. The congregation met in the courthouse for about a year before deciding that they needed a meeting space of their own, separate from a government building.
In 1867, the church built a small meeting house two blocks from the courthouse in an area that is now called The West End Historic District of Downtown Dallas.
To commemorate where the original church once stood, a Texas Historical marker was installed on a two story red brick building at 703 Ross Ave. on December 4, 1938—a building that once housed the city police station and jail
In 1876, the gift of an organ caused a division among the parishioners. Some members were opposed to instrumental music within the church. The Rev. Kirk Baxter and those members who desired the addition of the musical instrument began temporary meetings in the Main Street Opera House. A new sanctuary was built in 1878 on Commerce Street at the site of the former Statler Hilton Hotel building. The church adopted the name Commerce Street Christian Church.
Nine ministers served the Commerce Street Christian Church between 1878 and 1891.
In 1891, while Mr. J. F. Toof was pastor, the congregation moved to a new and larger building at St. Paul and Patterson streets and the name Central Christian Church was chartered. The church remained at this location for the next 60 years.
In 1951, Central Christian Church sold the St. Paul/Patterson location and purchased land at 4711 Westside Drive, the present day location of the church. Construction started on the Westside location in April 1952, and the new sanctuary was dedicated during a service on Sunday, May 3, 1953. (from Wikipedia, written for 150th Anniv.)