From the beginning, there has always been a vision.
On Easter Sunday in 1968, a group of people met at Jackson Elementary School in Seymour with the hope of establishing New Testament Christian Church in Seymour.
That same year, the first building was purchased at Fourth and Poplar streets. In 1970, the church became incorporated as Seymour Christian Church.
When they outgrew that space, members began meeting at nearby Emerson Elementary School in 1978.
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A year earlier, the church bought 5 acres of land at 915 Kasting Road, and John Moore and several other members spent many hours cleaning it off. The loan was paid off in 1980.
On Aug. 10, 1981, the church purchased a 60-by-100-foot metal building to be erected on the property. The first worship service was conducted there in the fall of 1982.
As Seymour Christian Church celebrates 50 years, the vision is still the same as it was at the start.
“We want to honor those who have gone on before us who sacrificed a lot over the years to build a church here,” said Andy Schroeder, who has been lead minister of the church since January 2018 and is in his 30th year of ministry.
“Fifty years ago, this church didn’t exist and wasn’t here, and somebody had the vision to plant a church here in Jackson County,” he said. “Over the years, they’ve had ups, and they’ve had downs, I’m sure, but the faithfulness of the people to continue on, we want to honor that, and we want to say, ‘Good job. Well done.’ We are grateful today for the sacrifices people made before us because we enjoy that today.”
At the same time, Schroeder said it’s important to look ahead say, “OK, so what does this mean for us now?”
“We’ve got to carry the torch,” he said. “We’ve got to continue to be a light in this community and to be an impact in people’s lives. We’ve got to continue to stay true to God’s Word and continue to build upon what those before us laid the foundation for.”
That will be the message shared by former minister Randy Roberts during a 50th birthday celebration Sunday at the church. He will preach during the 8:30 and 10:45 a.m., and former worship leader Aaron Milbourn will lead worship.
“Where there is no vision, people perish,” Schroeder said. “Unfortunately, you see a lot of churches in our nation all over, even in our county, that are empty and churches that are struggling, and if they don’t have a vision for the future, eventually, they are not going to exist anymore. We’ve seen that happen, and we don’t want to be that way.”
During Sunday school hour from 10 to 10:40 a.m. Sunday, there will be open mic testimony for members to share memories of the church over the years.
Then after the second worship service, there will be a free cookout open to members and the community, and kids can play in bounce houses and participate in other activities.
Around 1:15 p.m., there will be a special prayer ceremony to dedicate the next 50 years to the Lord.
“We have a stone that’s being set in our building to kind of commemorate the first 50 years of ministry here in this community,” Schroeder said. “Anybody is welcome to come, absolutely, especially those who maybe attended here at one time who want to take a Sunday to come back and just be a part of what we’re doing here and welcome them.”
In his short time at Seymour Christian Church, Schroeder said it has been neat to read the history and hear stories from members.
“They had some really interesting stories of how the church came together, and actually, they built the first building pretty much sweat equity,” he said.
“It was a metal building, and they had the shell built, and most of the congregation people worked together through the years,” he said. “They started meeting in one part of the building. The other part wasn’t even finished yet. Then as they had the money, they finished out that part. They just kind of grew together.”
Today, the church has an average Sunday attendance of 500 people. Both services are identical, and the worship and music are contemporary.
“It’s a great group of people,” Schroeder said. “We’re a come-as-you-are kind of church. You can wear a suit or you can wear shorts and a T-shirt. It really doesn’t matter that way.”
Members come from a variety of backgrounds and professions, and the church offers programs for all ages.
The nursery and preschool is called Kids Zone, and those in kindergarten through fifth grade have Kids Zone Plus. Both consist of full programming every Sunday morning.
“It’s not just babysitting. They teach the Bible and teach them classes every Sunday,” Schroeder said. “The little ones are getting good stuff, too. It’s fully staffed, and we’ve got security in place.”
Core, the ministry for young adults, meets Monday nights. Schroeder said it’s important to invest in the children, young adults and young families.
“The thing is, for a lot of us adults, 50 years from now, we aren’t going to be here, but our kids and some of the kids that are in the nursery area and our Kids Zone Plus area, they will be here, and what will this church be like 50 years from now?” he said. “I think that’s something that we have to take seriously in what we’re doing right now. We’ve got to look ahead.”
The church also has a Prime Timers group that is very active taking trips, and there is a women’s Bible study and a men’s breakfast and retreat.
“We feel that God has placed us here in this community to be a light, to be a place of refuge, to be a place of help for those who need it, so there are all sorts of different areas of ministry that we want to continue,” Schroeder said.
Members also are involved in the community, including helping with The Alley, Double Down Outreach and Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Pantry.
“Our mission statement is ‘Knowing Jesus and making Jesus known,'” Schroeder said. “Our goal here is to teach them to have a relationship with Jesus, to get to know him and have a personal relationship and walk with him. Then our goal is to send them out and to make Jesus known and be Jesus to people — when you’ve done unto the least of these, you’ve done unto me, that whole thing.”
Beyond the community, members have taken mission trips to the Dominican Republic for 10 years. Schroeder said 21 adults went in May and nearly 40 youth and adults went this summer, making it the largest total number.
The adults were part of a construction team led by Dominican Minister Michell Marte that worked on building a retreat center. He is considered one of the church’s staff members and is provided a full salary.
In the summer, the youth led sports camps. Both trips also had church members leading vacation Bible school at night.
Seymour Christian Church has made other strides in the past year and a half, too.
Schroeder said nearly 130 people have either been baptized or joined the church. There also have been improvements to the building, including a new roof and remodeling of the office area and hallways. Plus, the stage and nursery currently are being remodeled.
This fall, the parking lot will be redone and extended to 250 spaces, and a courtyard and some new signage will be added.
“It’s a huge project for us. It will really make our campus look different,” Schroeder said. “A lot of really exciting things have been taking place over the last couple of years.”
A beach volleyball court and an addition of the worship center are the next steps in the church’s growth.
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“We’ve got to carry the torch. We’ve got to continue to be a light in this community and to be an impact in people’s lives. We’ve got to continue to stay true to God’s Word and continue to build upon what those before us laid the foundation for.”
Andy Schroeder, lead minister of Seymour Christian Church
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What: 50th birthday celebration
When: Sunday; worship services at 8:30 and 10:45 a.m.; open mic testimony during Sunday school from 10 to 10:40 a.m.; cookout after second service; special prayer ceremony at 1:15 p.m.
Where: Seymour Christian Church, 915 Kasting Road, Seymour
Who: Church members and the community are invited
Details: Former minister Randy Roberts will share the message during each service, and former worship leader Aaron Milbourn will lead worship; kids can play in bounce houses and participate in other activities after the second service
Information: Call 812-523-3335 or visit seymourchristian.com or facebook.com/seymourchristianchurch