Church has big history

CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle Pastor Bill Banks, left, stands with long-time Central Christian Church members, from left, Jack Pierce, Janet Pierce, Gene Brian, Beth Brian and Wanda Horton in the church’s sanctuary.

By Tonya Fennell: CNJ staff writer

Central Christian Church was once the largest Christian church in New Mexico, according to church records.

Now the church’s congregation numbers only 50. And many members have been attending services at the church since they were babies.

In fact, church member Jeane Carmack jokes she was born in the back pew.

The small congregation of Central Christian Church, which is located on the corner of 14th and Mitchell streets, plans to celebrate the church’s 100th anniversary June 9 and 10.

According to Pastor Bill Banks, the celebration will include food, a concert, special speakers and plenty of time to visit.

“All former ministers, members and friends are invited to attend,” Banks said. “Those unable to attend are urged to write and reminisce with us.”

While many of the church’s records have been lost over the years, Banks said, the memories are still vivid in many church members’ minds.

Church member Gene Brian recalls when the church had only one bathroom in the basement.

“Everyone had to use it,” he said, “men, women and children.”

Janet Pierce, who has been a member more than 50 years, fondly remembers sitting in the pew as a child and listening as her parents sang in the choir. The mother of four said being awarded a flower on Mother’s Day for being the youngest mother is also a favorite memory.

Wanda Horton, who serves as the church’s secretary, said her favorite memory involves church revivals. “They (revivals) were great,” she said. “They would last for a solid week regardless of school nights.”

The church members said they have many goals for the church’s next 100 years — including reaching out to young mothers and starting English language classes.

“We want to help the community more,” Banks said. “At our church you won’t get lost in a crowd because here you are family.”