In the mid 70’s, a Bible study was started by some forward-thinking Christians in Monroe County. Among the names were Diane Brown, Ranny Worrell and Keith Peters. After a period of time the meetings were moved to the city of Monroe to accommodate the inclusion of other local residents, both related to and friends of the starter group. The studies became more regular and used the Erie State Bank board room (Stewart Rd and Telegraph Rd), courtesy of its president Malcolm Pownall. After several years, the conversations turned to the possibility of starting a Christian Church, of the Restoration Movement flavor, in Monroe.
With the assistance of New Churches of Christ Evangelism (NCCE, in Lansing) and the Lake Area Evangelizing Association (LAEA, in Toledo), plans were formulated to make this church happen. Much prayer and planning went into this project. About 14 families were interested and committed to help.
Bob Girdwood organized the group and the church opened on May 28, 1979. It began with 33 Charter members. The “Birthday Celebration” was held in the brand new Monroe High School Auditorium on Herr Road, with 575 people from Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan attending. Arrangements had been made for subsequent Sunday morning services to be held in the YMCA, on Elm Street in Monroe, Michigan.
The first Elders were Howard Huffman, Malcolm Pownall and David Nelson. The first preacher was James Lockwood. He was accompanied by his wife Kim.
In those early “YMCA years” the social functions were held in the Johnson-Phinney House in downtown Monroe. The ladies of the church formed a group called “The Branches of Eve” that met for Bible study and community service projects. They visited the Fairview Home every quarter to bring cheer to the indigent.
The MCC leadership initiated a drive to procure a new building in which the congregation could meet. Land was purchased for $30,000 on South Telegraph Rd. Architect Don Johnson designed the new building. Mike Franklin and his brother Bob were the primary building supervisors. Mike, newly chosen as Elder, subcontracted the trade portions of the project and coordinated the congregation-volunteer parts. Nearly everyone in the congregation participated in the construction in one way or another. Mike and Bob spent most of the summer donating their time and labor, accomplishing more than half the work required to complete the building.
Ten families made commitments to financially support the building project. MB&T financed approximately $150,000 for the church for a 15 year time frame.
Ray Hoy was the preacher during most of the construction period and was in the position when the new building was inaugurated. Rex Morey followed him as the next preacher.
In 1989, Monroe Christian Church began participating in short term mission trips. Over the years there have been several dozen subsequent trips. The early ones were in collaboration with AIM (Adventures in Missions), in Indiana. Even though the initial mission projects were primarily set up for teenagers, some later developed as adult projects. Rex and Christine Morey were enthusiastic advocates of the short term mission trips. Approximately 14 years later they found themselves moving to Honduras as full time missionaries to the Hondurans.
In the years between 1989 and 1994, Doug Stewart was the musical director and artistic performer for Monroe Christian Church. He wrote and directed six musical plays which the “Monroe Christian Church Players” presented in St. Mary’s Park in downtown Monroe. “The Players” also toured to other churches and theaters in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania.
In 1995, a Home Schooling Co-op was started at Monroe Christian Church.
Jason Van Curen was the preacher from 1992 to 2002, approximately ten years, as MCC entered the new millennium. Dan DeVilder was selected as preacher in 2005, before moving on to be a full-time chaplain in Missouri in 2010. Marvin Flowers joined MCC in 2011 and served MCC and the Monroe area until his passing in early 2014. John Schaaf assisted as the interim preacher along with other lay preachers, until Scott Reed joined MCC upon graduation from Ozark Christian College in May 2015.
Monroe Christian Church was the first Christian church in Monroe County. At the present time, there are two – MCC and Northwest Christian Church in Temperance. MCC also helped start Southpoint Community Christian Church, which is located about 20 miles north. MCC continues to seek fellowship and serving opportunities with all Christian churches, including participation at the annual North American Christian Convention and the International Conferences On Missions.
Missionaries have been supported every year since MCC was incorporated in 1979. Currently, the supported missions are in Zimbabwe (2), Ukraine (through Shepherd’s Purse in Lansing), Monroe, Toledo, Arizona, Indiana (2), Oklahoma and Michigan’s State Universities. The demographics that are served in these selections are teens, children, college students, families, street people, orphans and economic victims. The Missions part of the MCC budget will always represent a major portion of the MCC ministry expenses.
MCC’s prayer ministry is also a focal point, including a prayer room inside the church building, a twelve station prayer walk around the 10 acre property, and prayer ministry initiatives throughout the year encouraging prayer to be the central fabric of a daily Christian walk.