The First Christian Church, located at 19th Street and Avenue R, has provided excellent service to the Walker County community for over 150 years.
Writing in 1934, Mrs. W.A. Leigh recalled that early services of the First Christian Church were held at the county courthouse and in private homes. Mrs. Leigh noted that when her father, J.W. Bush, moved to Huntsville in December 1853, he sought out a number of individuals with similar religious beliefs as his own.
"Mrs. [G.W.] Banton, her son, Mr. Joab H. Banton, her daughter, Mrs. Wiliam Birdwell, and Mr. Birdwell, were his best friends. In Mrs. Banton's parlor, every Sunday morning, these would meet with her family: Mr. and Mrs. Jergins, Sr., Col. and Mrs [George W.] Grant, Mr. and Mrs [J.W.] Bush and children, and his sister, Miss Fannie Henley Bush. Mr. Bush would conduct the service. The communion, the hymns, the prayers, the Bible reading and the brief talk were impressive. The hymns, "How Firm a Foundation," "Jesus, Lover of My Soul," "Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound," and "God Moves in a Mysterious Way," made a deep impression, never to be forgotten" (Park, pp.66-67).
The First Christian Church was formally organized by Rev. Joseph Addison and Randolph Clark. On January 1, 1863, Rev. Benton Sweeney became the first resident pastor of the Huntsville Church. Early church leaders included elders J. Lyle Smith and J.W. Bush, Deacons J.F. Mason and William Birdwell.
According to Deed Records, on April 22, 1871 the congregation of the First Christian Church purchased the lot and building at the northwest corner of 11th Street and Avenue J. The building was purchased from the Cumberland Presbyterian congregation. Rev. Edwin Curtis Boynton served as rector on three separate occasions starting in 1899 and ending in 1949.
By 1901, the building was demolished and a new church was constructed in its place. In 1931, a new red brick church building was constructed in the same location. Finally in 1953, a new sanctuary at the northwest intersection of 19th Street and Avenue R was constructed; this building has served the congregation of the First Christian Church ever since. The First Christian Church has provided religious leadership in Walker County since before the Civil War. Its most lasting legacy is its dedication to helping the community find ways to bring the Word of God into their lives.