The Beginnings (1948-1951)
The first meeting of the congregation was November 21, 1948, with four families present. Those four families consisted of a total of 13 persons; Forrest and Dorothy Hall and their young son, Ed and Elma Oliver, Cloyce and Buelah Walden, and Thurman and Clella Wright and their four children. They met at the Wright home in Macon, Illinois. The contribution on that Sunday was $18.56.
On the third Sunday of December, 1948, services were moved to the YWCA in Decatur. Rental cost at the YWCA was $20.00 per week. Wednesday evening services were held in members' homes. On the fourth Sunday in December, 1948, Wendell Kelley, a young man from Urbana, Illinois, preached at the morning services, at the church, which had been named the Central Church of Christ. The Kelleys subsequently moved to Decatur in July, 1949.
In October, 1949, services were moved to the Farm Bureau building where the Illinois Power Plaza now stands. Rental there was $5.00 per week. This was undoubtedly made possible because Thurman Wright was the Macon County Farm Advisor.
During this period, students from the church in Urbana did most of the preaching, the most prominent being James Smythe. The first gospel meeting of the congregation was conducted by Charles Chumley in a tent erected on the corner of East Cantrell and South Jasper Streets.
East North Street (1951-1961)
In 1950, a building at 1042 East North Street (located one block south of Eldorado, now behind the Burger King restaurant) was purchased from the Assembly of God, for $8,000. It was necessary to borrow $5,000 from Dr. C.O. Casey of Decatur to complete this purchase. (This was paid off in 1959.) The first services were held at the new location on the first Sunday of July, 1950. That same month Earl West held a gospel meeting in the new building. James Smythe was the first preacher and was supported by the Lincoln Avenue church in Urbana and the Lindsley Avenue church in Nashville, Tennessee. W.C. Hagemeir preached for a short time in 1950. Members of the Urbana church preached intermittently until March, 1951, when the church reached a major milestone. Edgar Clark, Jr. becomes the first full time preacher in March of 1951 and the name of the congregation is changed to the East North St. church of Christ.
In March, 1951, Edgar E. Clarke, Jr. moved here to devote full time to the work. By that time, contributions were averaging about $100.00 per week. The name of the congregation was legally changed to East North Street Church of Christ in May, 1951. In 1952, the church became self—supporting and terminated the assistance it had been getting from Urbana and Nashville. That same year it began making small monthly contributions to the Shults-Lewis Children's Home. Those contributions have continued without fail to the present date. Also, in September of that year, it began sending $20.00 per month to help the church in Bloomington, Illinois. In 1953, the church began regular support of the mission effort in France, and the "Herald of Truth" Radio Program.
Elders and deacons were appointed in October of 1956. They were: Clifford H. Moyer and Forrest Hall, elders; Wendell J. Kelley, Jasper Williams, Edward V. Oliver, William E. Bucy, and Willis Brian, deacons.
E.E. Clarke left Decatur, moving to Flint, Michigan. At this time, the weekly budget was $200.00 and attendance was averaging about 125.
The Robert Hampton family came to work with the church. A minister's home was purchased at 1047 East Willard in that year. Also, Fred Shappard was selected as the third elder. In this period monthly support to Korean missions was added to the budget.
A new building site of four and one half acres on Sunnyside Road was purchased. The house on Willard Street was sold, the loan on the East North Street property was paid off, and a loan in the amount of $8,500 was made by the First National Bank to buy the site. The purchase price was $16,000 and an additional $4,000 was spent to remodel the old house on the property for use as a minister's home.
Robert Hampton moved to East St. Louis and in July of that year John Tyler came from West Virginia. During the period at the East North Street location, David Bobo, Earl West, W.E. Kirk, Hugo McCord, Rue Porter, Neal Penny, Jack Duncan, Hoy Ledbetter, Guy Woods, and Ira North all conducted gospel meetings.
Plans were started for a new building and the congregation moved into a major new phase in its history.
A few years later the loan on the E. North St. property was paid off and 4.5 acres was purchased on Sunnyside Road. In April of 1961, building at the new site begins and the first service held on the new property was on Oct. 15, 1961. In June of 1976 a new lobby, offices, restrooms, kitchen, and large multi-purpose fellowship hall was added to the building.
Other property owned by the congregation was a home on N. Summit Ave. (acquired in February, 1966), and a home on Summit Ave. (acquired in February, 1975). Both of these homes have since been sold.
Sunnyside Road (1961-Present)
Just prior to starting its building program, the congregation suffered the severe loss of two of its Elders. Clifford Moyer died suddenly in January, 1961, and Fred Shappard died the following May. However, the congregation decided to press on with its long range plans.
Paden’ Construction Company was chosen as the general contractor and in April, 1961, grading was started for the new building. Most of the carpentry labor was provided by volunteer members of the congregation. The building was completed in time for the first service to be held on October 15, 1961. E.E. Clarke spoke at the official dedication service, which was held on November 19, 1961. During this period, the East North Street building was sold to the Greenwood Avenue Church of Christ for $15,000. This congregation later became the North Jasper Street Church of Christ, which is still in existence. The loan was made at the First National Bank to purchase the site. The total cost of the new building was $70,000 and carried a mortgage in the amount of $48,000. This was paid off in 1976.
Ed Bucy and Wendell Kelley were appointed elders. Verlyn Bay and Harley Randolph were appointed deacons.
John Tyler resigned the ministry and in January, 1964, Max Patterson, along with his wife Billie and family, arrived to begin his ministry at Sunnyside Road.
William E. Crawford and Paul Moore were appointed deacons.
Throughout this period, the church supported Shults-Lewis Children's Home, Korean Mission work, French Mission work, the churches in Monticello and Clinton, the "Herald of Truth", and Vietnam Mission work.
Max Patterson resigns.
A. J. Kerr begins ministry, which lasts to September, 1979. During this time support is given at various times to France, Korea, Viet Nam, West Africa, Iron Curtain countries, Australia, Holland and World Evangelism. Local missions are supported at Bloomington, Clinton, Monticello, Carbondale, Pana, Taylorville, and Lincoln IL. and St. Paul, Minn. Also supported is the exhibit at the Illinois State Fair. Support is given to Dennis and Toni Ruch in Viet Nam.
John "Jack" Molloy, Sam Shanklin, and Bob Trotter were appointed Deacons.
During this period of time, the church supported the following foreign mission activities on a regular basis (but not necessarily all at the same time): France, Korea, Vietnam, West Africa, Iron Curtain Countries, Australia, Holland, and World Evangelism. Local missions were supported also in Bloomington, Clinton, Monticello, Carbondale, Pana, Taylorville, and Lincoln (all in Illinois); and in St. Paul, Minnesota. Also supported was the Illinois State Fair Exhibit.
Another event of note during this period was the support of Dennis and Toni Ruch in Vietnam. This young couple from the Sunnyside Rd. congregation went to work in that country as missionaries. Also, during this period, a bus program was conducted for several years using three buses. In 1971, Verlyn Bay was appointed elder.
In this period, gospel meetings were conducted by Jack Duncan, Hugo McCord, Jerry Hill, Max Patterson, Charles Williams, W.T. Hamilton, Fred Mosley, Larry Swaim, Jay Lockhart, Charles Chumley, Kenneth Hoover, Alan Bryan, Ron Brotherton, Kip McKeen, and R.C. Thompson.
Verlyn Bay appointed elder.
A "JoyBus" program is instituted beginning in the early70's, ending in the early 80's. Three buses are purchased, and two routes are organized. During the most successful portion of this venture 100+ children are being brought to the church.
Also of note was the hiring of Greg Sims was hired as a full-time Youth Minister in February 1975. He stayed until July, 1979, when he left to go into Christian School Administration in Rockford, Illinois. A second home, to be used by the youth minister was purchased at 217 Drexel Court in February, 1976.
A new lobby, offices, restrooms, kitchen and a large multi-purpose fellowship hall is added to the building. As before, the major part of the carpentry and labor is done by the men and women of the congregation. Vernon Durbin takes responsibility for volunteer labor oversight. Jack Molloy, deacon, who is a home builder donates considerable labor of his construction crew in the erection of the roof and decking. This addition is finished by December, 1978, at a total cost of approx. $209,000, financed by a $135,000 loan. This is repaid in 1990.
Don Gibson was appointed a Deacon.
Another event of note in 1978, was the support of Jim Bullock in Gateway School of Preaching. Jim was one of the young boys raised in the congregation who now is a full time preacher.
William Crawford, Don Gibson and Hartley Carlton appointed elders. On the same date David.Karraker and Dan Shappard were appointed Deacons.
Rhinard Troup and wife Betty, begin working with the congregation.
Bob Burleson becomes Youth Minister.
September 1, 1980
Greg Swango, a member of the congregation, makes a career change and becomes Youth Minister, replacing Bob Burleson. He serves until July 1983.
Rhinard Troup resigns as pulpit minister in December 1981, but stays as a member of the congregation for two more years.
Hartley Carlton resigns as elder in October.
During this period, gospel meetings were conducted by Ray Christman, George Bailey, Hugo McCord, Mike Marsalis, and others.
Wayne Harvell and wife Judi come to work with the congregation. He serves until 1985 when he resigns to work in Christian Education.
A library is dedicated in memory of Jimmy Stearns, son of Truman and Marilyn Stearns and grandson of Benita Graham and Willie & Millie Mills.
Scott Zapalac replaces Greg Swango as Youth Minister until January 1984.
James Stinson, Tom Isenberg, and Hartley Carlton were appointed Deacons.
Wayne Harvell resigns to take a teaching position in Montgomery, Alabama.
Loren Rasbury begins work as Youth/Education Minister.
Ray Christman former full-time minister, and member at Sunnyside assumes the duties of Pulpit Minister while continuing his full-time secular work. This continues until 1989 when Ray moves. Loren Rasbury then becomes the new Pulpit Minister.
Hershel Franklin and Bob Teel were appointed Deacons.
Jeff Bay, Jim Casch, and Dennis Falkenheim were appointed Deacons.
Don Gibson resigned and retired to Arkansas with his wife Jackie.
In 1990 the mortgage on the building was paid in full, thereby relieving Sunnyside of that financial responsibility. The Drexel home was sold in the fall of 1990 leaving Sunnyside with only the residence on Summit Ave.
Hartley Carlton and Hershel Franklin, both deacons, were appointed as elders. On the same date Bill Rhoades was appointed a Deacon.
The Drexel house is sold and the mortgage on the building is paid in full.
William Rhodes and James Casch appointed elders.
Summer 1992, 1993, and 1994
Adam Hammitt from Harding University is the Summer Intern.
A Gazebo, designed by Steve Kelley, son of Wendell & Evelyn Kelley, is built by the members, under the direction of Vernon Durbin. The Gazebo is used for fellowships, picnics, and wiener roasts during the Summer and Fall, as well as an outdoor classroom.
Summer, 1995 and 1996
Eric Wilson from David Lipscomb University is the Summer Intern.
Elder Verlyn Bay dies, following a lengthy battle with cancer.
Wendell J. Kelley resigns as elder.
June 12, 1997
Scott McElroy from Auburn University is the Summer Intern.
Loren Rasbury resigns, working with the congregation until July.
Greg Swango, former Youth Minister returns with wife Bonnie and family to assume the duties of Pulpit Minister.
Doyle Parker and Paul Woolard are appointed as deacons.
May 23, 1998
Jake Chism from Harding University is the Summer Intern.
March 14, 1999
Kyle Osborne a member of the congregation (with wife Mandi) is hired as the Summer Intern. Kyle stays with the position until December of 2002.
October 1, 2000
William "Bill" Crawford resigns as an Elder.
Jeremy Stroop from Lipscomb University is the Summer Youth Intern.
Doyle Parker is appointed as Elder. Jim Howard, John Sykes, and Wendell Watson are appointed as Deacons.
Teresa Howard resigns as church secretary, and is replaced by Mary Sloan.
Jeremy Glover is appointed as the Summer Youth Intern.
Paul Woolard resigns as Deacon.
Ryan Aherin from Harding University is the Summer Intern.
Jason Wilder is appointed as Associate Minister.
Mary Sloan leaves post as church secretary.
Doyle Parker resigns as Elder due to job retirement and moving to Florida.
Greg Swango appointed Elder; Gregg Scott and Chris Shaffer appointed as Deacons.
November 11, 2007
William "Bill" Rhoades resigns as Elder.
January 27, 2008
Jason Wilder resigns as Associate Minister to take a similar position in Athens, TX.
February 24, 2008
Wendell Watson resigns as Deacon. Gary Bingamon is appointed by the Elders as the new church Treasurer.
June 11, 2008
Donna Bingamon begins work as church secretary.
April 5, 2009
Greg Swango announces his resignation and retirement from full-time ministry. Last day is set for Aug. 31.
April 25, 2009
Teachers' Workshop held—Dr. Jerry Bowling from Harding University spoke.
Logan Skidmore named as Summer Youth Intern
July 6-10, 2009
Jason Wilder, former assistant minister at Sunnyside, brought several teens here from Texas to do service projects in Decatur.
September 14, 2009
Nick Genter starts as pulpit minister at Sunnyside. He, his wife, Amanda, and daughter, Emily are temporarily residing at the Steve Derryberry home.
November 1, 2009
Renovation of both restrooms begins—Completed approximately Nov. 17th.
January 3, 2010
Steve Derryberry was installed as an elder and Duane Dunlap was installed as a deacon.
April 24-27, 2011
Gospel Seminar-Gary Hampton-(How Does God Answer Prayer?).
May 15, 2011
Children of the King play "Arkeology" performed.
Summer Intern, Kyle Reeves, begins as Summer Youth Intern.
June 10-11, 2011
Family Retreat held at Camp Warren.
July 8-9, 2011
Men's Retreat-Bennett Springs State Park.
August 1-5, 2011
Youth Service Week-teens spent week helping various members with jobs done around their homes.
November 13-16, 2011
Gospel Meeting with Andy Erwin.
January 22, 2012
Brian Dennison hired as outreach/youth intern minister.
May 12, 2012
Ladies Day at Sunnyside with Teresa Hampton. (Sisters Blooming in Blessings)
October 7-10, 2012
Gospel Meeting with Andy Erwin.
November 16-17, 2012
Sunnyside Retreat at Camp Warren.
January 27, 2013
Hartley Carlton resigned as elder after many years of service.
March 3, 2013
Door Knocking campaign begins after morning services.
November 2, 2013
Ladies Day at Sunnyside, "Seeking Spiritual Beauty"-Holly Schilling, speaker.
June 19-21, 2014
Evangelism Workshop held at the Decatur Civic Center.
July 5-13, 2014
Campaign held to do door-knocking.
July 26, 2014
Annual Corn Roast held at Sunnyside. Clinton, N. Jasper St., and Morningside churches of Christ were invited to be our guests.
August 31, 2014
All Decatur congregations met at Sunnyside for evening services. A fingerfood fellowship was held afterwards.
September 7, 2014
The elders announced that Nick, Amanda, and their family will be leaving Sunnyside.
May 31, 2015
Elders announced that they have been meeting with elders with other two congregations in town to discuss a possible 3 congregation merger.
April 10, 2016
Bobby Price begins his preaching career at Sunnyside as the pulpit evangelist.
May 05-07, 2017
Gospel meeting with Wissam Al-Aethawi
March 15 - July 05, 2019
All services cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic.
December 13, 2020 - January 10, 2021
All services cancelled due to COVID-19 in the congregation and city.
Bobby Price resigns to begin looking for another congregation.
July 31, 2022
Bobby & Laurel Price's last day at Sunnyside.
August 01, 2022
John McKeel begins as the next preacher at Sunnyside.