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
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
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]