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Liberty Christian Church, Shamrock, Callaway County, Missouri.
Photo submitted by Shirley (Bishop) Keller, November 2000


         Mexico Ledger, Mexico, MO, 15 Oct 1982

     Closing: 143-Year-Old Callaway Church To Hold Final Services Sunday

	The service at 2 p.m. Sunday at Liberty Christian Church north of Shamrock
will hold special meaning for J.R. Simpson of Route 1, Martinsburg.  It will
be the final service at the church he has attended all 80 years of his lief.
	The Rev. Clark Hargus, interim District 6 area minister for the Christian
Church (Disciples of Christ), will speak at the service after which the doors
of the 143-year-old church will be closed for good.
	"We just ran out of congregation," said Mr. Simpson, shairman of the church
board.  "Most of them are out in the cemetery."
	Attendance had been declining over the years until there are only seven or
eight members who attend regularly, he said.
	The Rev. Grafton Poage, pastor of the church for the last 4 1/2 years, spoke
admiringly of the remaining members.  "They are very, very faithful.  I've never
seen more faithful church members," he said.  Some of them come from as far away
as Wellsville, Fulton and Centralia, he said.
	Mr. Simpson, a retired railroad worker, said the church building and grounds
will be maintained by the Liberty Cemetery Association.
	The church, he said, was founded in 1839 by William Douglas, who pastored
it for about 25 years.  Those and other items of the past will be aired Sunday
afternoon when the church history is read.
	A Ledger story in November 1955 about the church says that Liberty is one
of the oldest country churches still active in this part of the state.  The
pastor at that time, the Rev. A.F. Larson of Fulton, had served the church for
38 years.
	The article said that the "present church building is the second on the same
site, and has central heating and electrcity.  The entire building has been
renovated and redecorated inside and out."
	One other note added in the article was that "in the adjacent cemetery are
to be found the names of many pioneers in this part of the country.  Some of
the tombstones date to the early 19th century."
	Sunday, the Rev. Debra Purviance, associate regional pastor for the Christian
Church, will speak at the 10:45 a.m. worship service.  A carry-in dinner will
precede the afternoon service.
	At the close of that service, the Liberty faithful will have to find new
church homes.  For Mr. Simpson, who is moving to Thompson to reside with his
daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert Hinton, it will mean changing
churches for the first time in 80 years.
	Where will he go"  "I haven't made up my mind yet," he said.

Pastor Of 3 Churches To Retire The Rev. Grafton Poage, pastor of three area churches, is returing - again. Mr. Poage was a retired Methodist minister when he "unretired" about 4 1/2 years ago to fill the pulpits at Martinsburg Community Church, Rush Hill community Church and Liberty Christian Church (Callaway County). Oct. 31, he will retire for the second - and final, he says - time. The minister, who resides with his wife in rural Perry, said about 50 persons regularly attend the Martinsburg church, while the Rush Hill church has about 45 and Liberty less than 10. Asked if it were difficult to preach for the small group at Liberty after speaking to a much larger number at his other two churches, Mr. Poage said, "When God calls a man to preach, He doesn't mention numbers." The veteran minister, Ralls County native, said he has been involved in church work for 45 of his 65 years, most of it in Central Missouri. He has been in the ministry for 29 years. Mr. Poage says he has definite plans for spending his retirement days. "I'll do as little as possible," he said. "My wife wants to travel some and I'll piddle in my workshop." His final day at Liberty Christian will be Sunday, which also is the date the church will chose for good because of its sparse membership.
Liberty Christian Church Closes - Mexico Ledger, Mexico, MO, 1982 The genesis of Liberty Christian Church took place 143 years ago when 10 people got together to establish a place of worship. Since that day in 1839, the small Callaway County church has seen and felt all the changes of the years. The biggest change occurred Sunday when services were held at the church for the final time. Liberty, which once could boast of a 263-member congregation and of ministers who received no wages for their services, closed its doors for good because its active membership had dwindled to eight. The church history reveals that, before the Civil War, a separate room was added to the main church and logs from the wall were removed so the slaves in attendance could hear the service. In the early days of the church, men and women sat on opposite sides of the church, separated by a rail. Perhaps the most obvious reminder of the country church's past is its nearby cemetery where 20 graves bear the remains of soldiers who died in every major war since the Civil War. The present building is the fourth structure to house the congregation, and the church site north of Shamrock is its third location. Built in 1912, the church remains in very good repair. The decision to close Liberty had nothing to do with the condition of the church, only with the decline in membership. The church building literally outlasted the congregation. Most of the Liberty's members it once attracted have decreased as farms have grown larger and the surrounding community smaller. Now, Liberty's few remaining active members must sever longtime ties and seek a new place of worship. [Submitted by Shirley (Bishop) Keller, November 2000]