History of Pritchett Church of Christ
During the last day of June in 1856 a protracted meeting was held near the present site of the Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Upshur County, Texas. Eleven precious souls were baptized during that Gospel Meeting. Those new converts along with twenty-two other members of the body of Christ formed the first congregation of thirty-three brethren who began meeting at Pleasant Hill. There is no known complete record of those who made-up the membership at that time. However, some of those included: John T. Holloway and wife, E. E. Elders and wife, L. M. Reed and wife, James Caffey, Sr. and wife, and Jeff Hoover and wife.
These original members cleared the land, cut and peeled the logs and erected the first meetinghouse for the church near where the gate of the Pleasant Hill Cemetery is now located. Brother John T. Holloway , preacher and song leader, was an early preacher for the congregation. Other preachers that followed him included: J. H. Mings , H. H. Beauman , D. E. Holloway , and J. S. Moser . An early membership book has a list of the members of the congregation in August 1869. It also reveals that the church at Pleasant Hill was known as the Disciples of Christ.
The same ledger listed the names of the members of the congregation in 1911. This was after the church had been meeting at its new location in the community of Pritchett and was referred to as the Pritchett church of Christ. About 1906, J. L. Mathis gave the church two acres of land on a hill overlooking Pritchett, which is approximately a block west of the present location. That same year, a large wood frame building was built on that location for a place of worship.
In 1929 a brick building was erected with classrooms on what was known as South Main. The membership at that time included: J. H. Mings , J. L. Mathis , Raey Smith , D. L. Craig , and W. C. Holloway . During this time Eubra Rushing , W. C. Holloway, and Carl Holloway shared in the work as local evangelists for the congregation. In 1926 brother Carl Holloway was asked by the congregation to serve as fulltime preacher. He continued to serve in that capacity until his retirement in 1962. In 1945 Charley Moser returned to the Pritchett congregation and served as one of its preachers until his death. In 1957 Charles Turner began sharing the preaching for the church with Carl Holloway and served as the regular preacher after brother Holloway’s retirement. Brother Turner preached for the congregation for more than fifteen years.
In 1964 the present meetinghouse was built. It will seat 200 in the auditorium and was more suitable for a growing congregation. By 1976 a three-bedroom brick house was erected on the property for the local preacher and his family. And in 1978 an annex was constructed behind the meetinghouse of the church. The annex can be used for four large classrooms or opened into one large area to accommodate special meetings and fellowships.
Brethren John Donahue and John Thompson served short tenures as preachers for the church from 1976 to 1979. On August 26, 1979 brother Earl Richardson began his tenure as the preacher for the Pritchett church of Chirst. He continued as the local evangelist until some time in 1989. Bill Blackstone began preaching on a part-time basis in November of 1990 and was employed as a fulltime preacher in February of 1991. He continued in that capacity until the first part of 2001.
Brother Neil Benford preached regularly for the church on a part time basis for about a year in 2002 through July of 2003.
The previous preacher, Bro. Dub Mowery, conducted a Gospel Meeting for the Pritchett church of Chirst June 1 st through 4 th of 2003. At that time, he accepted an invitation to become the local evangelist for the congregation. He and his wife Charlotte moved to Pritchett the later part of July and he began preaching for the church on the Sunday of August 3 rd, 2003. Dub is currently serving as minister to the Pittsburgh Church of Christ in nearby Pittsburg, Texas.
Bro. Del Elkins accepted our invitation to become the new pulput minister in the spring of 2011. He began his preaching carreer in Rochester, Michigan in 1961, followed by several years in Bay City, Michigan followed by 12 years in Washington, DC with the most fruitful effort with the Oxon Hill congregation in Maryland where there were 2,100 baptism years of service. He ,along with wife Barb of 55 years, has served in several capacities of ministry: Starting and building congregations; Going to larger places and turning them into “sister” congregations. Serving somewhat “troubled” locations and letting the Lord – bring them to peace. We have served – from Michigan to SC, and from NY State to TX – somewhat equally divided – between South and North.
Bro. Elkins had to step down for health reasons in March, 2013 and returned to his family in Tennessee where he continues to lead others by his fine Christian example.
Bro. Jack Wilkie began as the new preacher for the Pritchett church of Christ on August 11, 2013. In addition to his work as a preacher, he serves as an associate editor and staff writer for Think magazine from Focus Press, where he has worked since 2011. He is a graduate of the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver (2008) with a bachelor’s degree in Biblical studies. He also graduated from Amridge University with a bachelor’s in business studies in 2010. Jack has many resources at his disposal and uses them to further his work in God’s kingdom. He attends lectureships, gives seminars, and has written many articles on faith, God, and a Christian’s place in a modern world.
Those who have served as elders (bishops) for the Pritchett church of Chirst include: Park Snow, Charley Humphries, D. L. (Lee) Craig, J. H. Mings, Raey Smith, Truman Cowan, C. E. Holloway, Delbert Snow, Joe Roberts, Sam Snow, Richard Roberts, Avis Ray, Bruce Watts, Hugh Thompson, and T. J. Johnson . There were probably other brethren that served as elders during the earlier history of this congregation. We have not found any record concerning this matter.
Brethren who have served as deacons for the congregation include: Monroe Maberry, Park Snow, J. B. (Joe) Roberts, Luther Whitfield, Delbert (Del) Snow, Elon Petty, B. W. McCullough, Avis Ray, T. J. Johnson, Bruce Watts, Kenny Gage, Tom Rash, Randy Brisby, Terry Johnson, and Mike Sperier .
Mike Sperier presently serves as the song leader for the congregation.
The Pritchett church of Chirst has had several men who have developed into gospel preachers. Brother Perry Cowan , whose father Truman Cowan served as an elder for the church, is presently preaching for the Shady Grove church of Christ in Upshur County, Texas. Also, Terry Johnson , who had previously served as a deacon and whose father T. J. Johnson served as an elder, preaches regularly on a part time basis at various congregations. Mike Sperier , who has served as a deacon, preaches for the congregation when the regular appointed preacher is away on a trip. Kelly Spencer is frequently called upon to preach for various congregations. He has been preaching for three or four years for the Austin Street church of Christ in Marshall, Texas. Leroy Cowan also preaches on occasion.
For many years, the Pritchett church of Chirst has been able to financially support several mission and benevolent works. It is our prayer that the Lord will continue to bless us with greater opportunities to serve in the church of our Lord, which is His spiritual kingdom.