Our History

Church of the Three Marys

Mary Williams was born in Pennsylvania in 1776, the same year that the Declaration of Independence was signed. She married General Alexander Ogle and became Mary Ogle. In the early 1800s they lived in Somerset, Pennsylvania. While visiting a friend in Philadelphia, Mary attended different churches. During that time she came to faith in Christ and desired to be baptized back in Somerset since it was at Somerset that she had lived so long away from Christ and she believed it her duty to honor Him there. The news that Mary Ogle was to be immersed brought the whole town to the old stone mill south of town. The year was 1812. The next summer Mrs. Mary Morrison, a prominent woman in town as the wife of a leading lawyer, was also baptized. Every Sunday these two Marys held morning meetings in the law office of Abraham Morrison and urged all who could to attend these meetings regularly. At these meetings psalms and hymns were sung, scripture was read, and a sermon was read from a volume of George McBurder’s sixty-five Village Sermons. Later they added an afternoon Sunday School which was the first Sunday School in the county. Sunday School was conducted by Mary Ogle and the wife of a Presbyterian minister, John Ross. Our church today still offers Sunday School classes every Sunday.

Later, a Mary T. Graft joined and became an important helper. The “Three Marys” formed a nucleus of a group that later developed into the church. They continued to meet in Morrison’s law office, located on the corner of North Center Avenue and West Union Street. Today Somerset’s post office stands in this location. These “Three Marys” had a passion to do the work of Christ and they leave a wonderful legacy of faith and evangelism. Mary Ogle was the prime mover and chief spirit in all that was done by these memorable women. She was an excellent planner and a women of sound judgement. Mary Morrison was known for her sweet character and constant generosity. She was always giving something to someone. Mary Graft rose early every morning by candle light to pray for the coming day’s work and for every individual member of the church.

Alexander Campbell

Roots in the Restoration Movement

The “Three Marys” longed for a regular minister. A Dr. John Cox of Philadelphia was called to come and preach in Somerset. Later two Baptist ministers preached for the church and it became known as the Somerset Baptist Church. The church was accepted into the Redstone Baptist Association in 1819 even though they did not subscribe to the creed. This disinterest in accepting the creed would lead the church to be excluded from the association in 1826. The true foundation and identity of the church came from the Restoration Movement, a product of the Second Great Awakening that was happening during that time. This movement desired to bring all Christians back together as a unified body like the original church in the book of Acts. Alexander Campbell was one of main leaders of the Restoration Movement. He visited the church at various times to help with the dedication of the meeting house and mission work.

On September 20, 1829 the church was officially reorganized as a Christian Church. It is from this history that our church still holds to the saying “no book but the Bible and no creed but Christ.” Today the church is called First Christian Church which refers not to being the first Christian Church in the area but rather to the desire to be like the first Christian Church in the book of Acts.

History of our buildings

The first official church building or “meeting house” was a brick structure costing about $4,000. It was dedicated by Alexander Campbell in 1844. In 1870 this building was no longer of service and it was torn down the next year. A new two-story building was constructed on the northwest corner of South Center Ave and West Patriot Street. The cost was about $7,000. During this building period, the congregation had 246 members. The first service in the new building was held in November of 1873.

On May 16, 1909 a committee was appointed to select a new site and make plans for a new house of worship. The cornerstone of our present building was laid on November 17, 1910. The new building cost $40,000 which was paid off by January 21, 1920. First Christian Church also bought the home and property of a James Holderbaum. Half of the house was torn down and the other half was joined to the church building and became the parsonage for the church for many years. It is no longer used as a parsonage.

A legacy of nearly 200 years…

With our roots in revival and a legacy of outreach to the Somerset community, First Christian Church continues it’s mission today. We will love God, love people, and make disciples.