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Church celebrating century of service
Ceres High School just celebrated its 100th anniversary. Now it's Ceres Christian Church's turn with events - open to the public - taking place this weekend.

The church's roots go back to the spring of 1908 when a small group of people met in the Fourth Street home of Charles H. Edison to organize a new church in Ceres. The church was first named the First Church of Christ and was at the corner of Third and North streets (site of the present-day Masonic Lodge). The church has moved around a number of times in the last century. Most of that time the church was located on the sight of the construction of the new Ceres Community Center. The church relocated to its current site at 3502 Roeding Road just east of Mitchell Road.

"This church has had a tremendous impact on this community," said Pastor Dave Broyles. "It has been here so long everybody knows the church. She's been through the flood and fire but she comes out on top, I think, because Jesus has had His hands on this church. There's just been a lot of people come to Christ through this church and I feel blessed to be a part of this church. It's been the best time in my life and has been the greatest church I've been a part of."

From 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, the church is hosting a program to review its history. Members of the local Boy Scout troop will participate in the opening processional. A horse and buggy will bring the church's two longest continuous members - Bob Lindstrom who has been attending for 65 years, and Wayne Salter, 94, who came to the church as a youngster. Musical performances by The Salter Trio, Richard and Louise Boek, Alisa Asher, the Herb Henry Family, and a traveling barbershop quartet, Collaboration, will be included. A variety of delicious hors d'oeuvres will be served up with the viewing of historical photos of the church. Pastor Broyles, who is celebrating a decade of service at the church, will close with a message entitled "The Next 100 Years."

On Sunday the church will incorporate the celebration into worship. At 9:45 a.m., cake, coffee and fellowship will be offered, followed by one Worship Celebration at 10:30 a.m. Bryce Jessup, president of William Jessup University, will be the guest speaker.


Gathered at the Edison house that day in 1908 were founding members Nancy Conner, Mr. and Mrs. Godfrey Mall and daughters Julia and Grace, Mr. and Mrs. C.H. Edison, Mrs. Bell Lyman, Mrs. J.H. Owen, Margaret Garrison and Pastor and Mrs. F.M. Reed. The congregation was about 20 members strong.

Attendance increased with the additions of Mr. and Mrs. C.L. Jessup and family and Mr. and Mrs. J.B. Wing and family, the Charles Higbees, the T.J. Krons, E.E. Porterfield, the W.J. Hackett family and the E.E. Murrays and others.

Nancy Conner, who made her home in the Ceres hotel, and who owned a lot at Third and North streets, offered her lot to give as she said, "a foundation for a church."

Fred Salter, an elder for many years, had for some time foreseen the need for a new building and from time to time talked to the congregation of starting a building fund. In 1944 tentative church plans were drawn. Three lots were purchased at the corner of Third and Magnolia. Construction of the building began in August 1950 under the direction of Robert Jessup, a member of the board of trustees.

Growth in the 1990s prompted church leaders to think about moving to the country for a larger facility. In 1995, landowner Don McKim noticed how packed the church was during the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service and offered a month later to sell a property to the church for a mere $15,000 per acre. It took over one year to complete the transaction but on Valentines Day, 1997 the church became the owners of the 16.5-acre parcel. The city of Ceres paid the church $1 million for the old church, thinking it would be a great way to develop a community center. However, plans were changed to destroy the church building to make way for a new $6.3 million Community Center due to open next year.