History of Our Church

The work of the early church, before 1817, was in the hands of itinerant missionaries. According to the Beers History of Brown County 1883, “The first church in the township was built on the John Snedaker farm near Eagle Creek in the east part of the township, it was a small building 18×21 very unpretentious and ruddy finished. The house was built thru the united efforts of different denominations. The Presbyterians, being the most numerous in the community, was the principal occupant. The first preaching was by Rev. Reuben White of the Presbyterian persuasion. This church served as a place of worship until neighboring villages supplied better.”

The first account of a Presbyterian Church in Russellville was in 1817. This church was built of brick and is believed to have been located where the Church of Christ stands today.

A title search of records of the Brown County Auditor office shows that in 1829, John Lane transferred title of a parcel of land to the Presbyterian Church. The land is where the present church and manse are located. In 1830 a brick structure 40×70 was built on this property close to the street, facing south as does the present church. It was built of stone, probably in Meeting-house architecture. (The Red Oak Church is an example of this type of architecture.)

In 1865, there was a feeling that it was necessary to build a new church. The reason for a new church is not really clear, but probably because of excessive maintenance costs. After five years of planning, in 1870, under the guidance of Jesse Lockhard, the new church home was completed for a cost of $9000.

Several good men served as pastor of the “new brick church.” One was Walter Mitchell whose wife started the first missionary society.

There was long line of Lane Seminary students who ministered to the congregation. Among these was A. J. Harman who served the church well and who married Luella Conn, daughter of Elder Robert Conn.

Another student who occupied the pulpit was Charles Glazier. He accepted a position at Hanover College and later became an evangelistic singer. His wife organized the Priscilla Circle.

Rev. Pake served the church in 1926 when the manse was completed and the Pakes were the first occupants. Rev.Pake was followed by John C. Quinland and Rev. Martin of Georgetown. This was a time of spiritual and physical growth in the church

The depression years were difficult and the congregation, led by W.S. Harold struggled with financial issues. Rev. Harold resigned in 1937.

His successor was T.G.Holmes. Under his leadership the congregation gained new insights in their spiritual life and grew in material wealth.. In 1941 it was decided at a congregational meeting that it was necessary to build a new church. The old church was razed and the new structure built on that site. The cornerstone was laid October 19,1941. And the new church was dedicated on June 7,1942. The congregation worked hard to pay off the mortgage and the final payment and burning of the mortgage was November 26,1943.

In 1954 for the first time in 140 years the Russellville Presbyterian Church had its own minister. Rev. Elvin J. Crandell was ordained into the ministry and installed as pastor of the church. This was the first time in its history that the church was not linked to another church in sharing a minister. James Thomas, another seminary student followed Rev. Crandall. After finishing his seminary studies, Mr. Thomas was ordained and installed as pastor of the church. During his years at Russellville the Christian Education wing was completed.

From 1960 to the present time nine ministers and several student supplies have led the congregation. Through their guidance the congregation has remained strong, touching many lives.