The FCC Missoula Story
As the City of Missoula was in its beginnings and growing into "the most promising town between Helena and Spokane Falls," there was another beginning taking place. In November of 1884, W.D. Lear of Corvallis and evangelist E.O. Sharpe held a month long meeting with several other ministers of western Montana to discuss the formation of a Church in Missoula. The meeting was quoted as "quite successful" with 14 people signing on to work on starting the church.
A year later, in November of 1885, a church was chartered. Over the next several years, the church saw growth and received support from the National Christian Women's Board of Missions. In 1887, a drive was started to raise money to build a building for the church. From these efforts, a lot was purchased at Washington and Broadway in downtown Missoula (where Romer's tire is today). More fundraising efforts continued.
1890 saw the official formation the first church board. In 1891, the church was became officially incorporated with the state under the name "The Church of Christ at Missoula."
$5,500 was raised for the new church building that was built on the property. The actual cost of the building was $8,000. The building was dedicated on March 15,1891. With some debt taken on by the congregation, funds continued to be raised to pay off debts and improve the facilities for growing church and community activities. The minister at the time (Rev. Fisher) erected a brick building (at his own expense) to be used as a parsonage. Upon his leaving in 1893, the building was purchased by a church elder and later bought by the church by a promotion of the Ladies Aide Society to expand church facilities.
The congregation continued to grow and participate with the community. One effort by the congregation was to partner with the newly formed University of Montana to create a Religious Studies Department. The Department unfortunately did not form until the 1940's, apart from the church. The church grew in mission and membership, to the point it was hosting several worship services.
In the 1911-1916 years, there were efforts to change the name of the congregation from "Church of Christ at Missoula" to "Calvary Christian Church." This effort was not popular but neither was the name "Church of Christ at Missoula." This name continued into the 1950's.
A New Building & Growing Ministry
By the 1950's, the church had seen tremendous growth and efforts made to modernize and update it's facilities. Unfortunately, several problems arose. The downtown area of Missoula was becoming more and more crowded by commercial activities. The congregation underwent a study of "where do we go from here." It was also discovered at this time that the church building was beginning to have foundation issues.
After some discernment, a new plot of land was purchased on Russell Street and a committee was formed to open an account with the board of church extension. With some fundraising campaigns and other work, the ground was broken at the Russell location in 1959.
June of 1959 also saw a name change for the congregation to its current name "First Christian Church" The new name was included in the constitution upate of 1959.
In 1960, the first phase of the new building was complete and the congregation met for the first time in the new sanctuary on April 3. The building had a dedication service on May 22, which involved starting worship at the old location and transitioning to the new building to end worship. The next phase of construction took place and added Sunday School Rooms, a Kitchen, a Fellowship Hall and a Conference Room. The new addition was dedicated in October of 1962. There were plans for further development of the property, but they never came to fruition.
Through the late 1900's, FCC continued to be one of the strongest Disciples congregations in Montana. The congregation participated in the local church softball league, was home to several choirs and supported several seminary students and missions. The congregation held a mortgage burning on May 20, 1973. The minister at the time (Paul Dean Hill) oversaw the ceremony and it was his third time overseeing such a ceremony. The church continued to have a parsonage until Paul Dean Hills retirement in 1978, where he and his wife purchased it for their retirement home.
A New Location & Great Ministry
Since the early 2000's, FCC Missoula has continued to go through transformation. FCC Sold a portion of it's property to Missoula Youth for Christ to help help build the CityLife Center, and was the first contributor to the project.
More recently, FCC has been undergoing some internal transformations to update our bylaws and programming. We have also added LiveStreaming to our worship services on Facebook and have been building up our Matthew 25 Project to better serve our neighbors.
In 2023, FCC Missoula adopted the congregational Mission and Identity statment "We are a welcoming community of Disciples, dedicated to Loving, Serving and Walking with our neighbors, as Jesus did."