Following a gospel meeting he held in the upstairs auditorium of the old DeKalb County courthouse, Charles Holder and a few local residents organized the first church of Christ in Fort Payne on October 27, 1927. It was quite possibly the first church of Christ in DeKalb County. The charter members of this small congregation were Mr. and Mrs. Fred B. Martin, Mr. and Mrs. Wiley A. Smith, Mrs. Beam Hughes, and Mrs. Irene King.
The first service was held in November 1927; the location being a small, rented room in the Koerner Building at the southeast area of the Opera Block. For the next three years, services continued in this room with Bible study and communion occurring every Sunday while preaching services took place on a monthly basis. Gospel meetings were held in the courthouse, tents and some meetings were held in the Presbyterian Church building. Baptisms took place in Crystal Lake, Wills Creek, Little River, or a nearby baptistry.
In 1930, the church purchased an old two story frame residence at 918 Grand Avenue North where services continued until 1933. The congregation returned, briefly, to the Opera Block, renting a space in the northeast area. It later returned to the old house on Grand Avenue where it remained until 1945.
Brother Holder returned frequently to preach for the congregation and many other evangelists have filled the pulpit since that time. Quentin McCay was the first full time minister to locate in Fort Payne in 1944, serving for about one year. The church was without a minister for approximately four years while accumulating a small building fund.
In 1945, the church moved to its present location at 513 Grand Avenue North. In the beginning, worship services were held in what is now considered the basement. The auditorium and upper classrooms were added in 1948. Further building expansion took place in 1962 enlarging the auditorium and adding nine class rooms at the rear of the building. In August 1976, three lots adjoining the church building were purchased and paved for a parking area. Further improvements occurred in 1980 with a building program that included adding a foyer, nursery, additional restrooms, and a carport.
The first elders of the Fort Payne church were: T.D. Dozier, S.F. Gardener, W.G. Hawkins, Curtis Highfield, and Joe Maxwell. Others who have served in the eldership include: John T. Turner, Henry Long, Gene Anderson, Hollis Gentry, Jim Couch, James Campbell, Mark Dawson, Randy Turner and Kenneth McDonald.
The work of the Fort Payne church has been diverse and diligent through the years. The church has aided in the establishment of five other congregations in DeKalb County. The Fort Payne church of Christ has provided support for foreign missions, contributes regularly to an orphanage, and is engaged in other benevolent work at home and abroad.
On May 26, 2006, the eldership announced the “Building to Serve” capital campaign to the church membership. Funds were needed to build a new auditorium addition to seat 300 people and to renovate the existing building into a larger handicap accessible fellowship hall with additional classrooms. Each member was asked to commit a monetary amount over three years to this campaign. On July 30, 2006, the church celebrated Victory Sunday where the total amount contributed was announced by the Eldership. The total commitment surpassed the goal.
In October 2007, a congregational meeting was called by the eldership and they presented the congregation with the final plans for the “Building to Serve” new addition. Cost of this project was one million two hundred thousand dollars. On November 9, 2008, services were held in the new building and dedication for the building was held on December 11, 2008.
During the first quarter of 2011, worship attendance averaged 107. The church is served by four elders who are James Campbell, Mark Dawson, Randy Turner, and Kenneth McDonald. Jason Akins and Shane Wright serve as deacons.
The members and leadership of the Fort Payne church of Christ are dedicated to following God’s Holy Word. It is our desire to speak where the bible speaks and to be silent where the bible is silent. We view the past with gratitude for our heritage and look to the future with great hopes and expectations.