Circle Christian Church - A Brief History
congregation's history is an amazing one. On February 11, 1842, John Henry, a
renowned preacher, arrived in Ohio City to open a series of meetings. There was
much excitement about his message, and on February 20th, in that same year, a
church of thirty-two members was organized in a small building on Vermont Street
(Main Avenue and West 28th Street). For a time, services were held across the
Cuyahoga River in Apollo Hall and Empire Hall (West 6th Street and Superior
In 1848, they began work on their own house of worship (where the West Side
Masonic Temple stands). The 64'x40' building was affectionately known as "God's
Barn". At this time the shipping industry played an important part in the life
of Cleveland, and it is said that there were seven ship captains who were
members of Franklin Circle Church, as it was known in 1842.
As the town became a city, the congregation became a metropolitan church. In
1876, they moved to the present location and in 1884 completed work on their
sanctuary building, designed by
Frank Cudell and
John Richardson. The church continued to grow, and in
the early 1900's, there were 600 members in the Sunday School program,
necessitating the building of the community building, with an akron-style
chapel, church offices, a gym, a kitchen, and numerous meeting and classrooms. Franklin
Circle Church became the "Mother Church" for other west side Disciple
congregations including the Lakewood, West Boulevard, Highland, Parma and
For most of the
19th and the first half of the 20th centuries most of the members of Franklin
Circle Church lived within walking distance of the church. As the membership
grew in size, and expanded into more residential areas, some of these members
moved to into these new communities however, maintaining their membership and
commitment to the church in its urban context.
serving the church in positions such as Pastors and Preachers was former
President James A. Garfield (1857) who would
become President of the United States. Several others served as well, leaving
to seek other positions of leadership in the Brotherhood (as it was then known),
including a number of collegiate presidents.
strength of the congregation during the building and growing of the church,
however, lay mostly within its lay leaders and their contributions to the
spiritual and practical life of the community. Among these dynamic leaders are;
Jessie Brown Pounds, a renowned hymn writer, who wrote the
hymn, "I Know That My Redeemer Liveth", businessman Albert R. Teachout who was a
member here for 48 years and Sunday School Superintendent for 25 years, poet
Carl Brown and William Albert Hughes, the organizer and director of the
Cleveland Messiah Chorus. The depths of faith, love, and commitment have
characterized these individual's call from God, and is still present in today's
Our church offers a myriad of programs, stemming from service and programs
offered at Franklin Circle Church in the 1800's. Past activities and programs
are cherished and show the commitment, dedication and love that Franklin Circle
Church offers in the community. Some of these are; Chinese Sunday School, Head
Start Pre-School, Montessori Pre-School, The Covenant (Adolescent Chemical
Dependency Treatment and Prevention Center), and the North American Indian
Cultural Center. These programs were offered at various times throughout the
history of the church.
Programs presently available include: Young Adult and Adult Sunday School,
Children and Youth Sunday School, JAMmers Youth Group (Chi Rho & CYF), Mid-Week
Evening Bible Study, Christian Women's Fellowship, Weekly Community Meal, After
School Program (Mon. & Wed.), Vacation Bible School, Outdoor Worship Services.
In the recent past we have also offered a choir, Third Saturday Coffee/Concert
Houses, After School Music Program, Hayrides and Pumpkin Picking, trip to the
MetroParks Zoo Lights, and Christmas Caroling. The Ohio Region of the Christian
Church offers a complete Conference and Church Camping program from elementary
age through adulthood.
Our church continues to thrive as a dynamic, diverse, and progressive urban
congregation, and our programs offer so much to our community, including
members, friends, visitors, and all that walk through our church doors for
assistance, nurture, and comfort. Our motto sums up our mission quite well, as
we are…Widening The Circle For All God’s Children
Presently, as always, the strength of this congregation lies within each
individuals burning desire to uphold our mission, maintain a spiritual life, and
give back to the community. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be
the desire of every individual to indulge in loving wastefully, contributing
however possible, living and sharing their lives with Jesus Christ our Savior.
Circle Christian Church - A Timeline
1842 - FCCC
founded at a meeting in the Apollo Hall downtown by Disciples preacher John
1843 - 1846 Initially, the congregation worshipped in a building on Vermont
Ave., near W. 28th St., and between 1843-46 services were held in rented rooms
across the river in Cleveland.
1843 - FCCC gives birth to Euclid Ave. Christian Church
1846 - The congregation returns to Ohio City.
1848 - The church erects a building on Franklin Circle known as “God's Barn” and
begins worshiping in its own building for the first time.
1857-1858 - James Garfield, president of the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute,
now Hiram College, preaches regularly at FCCC.
1874 - Construction of present sanctuary began, Cudell & Richardson,
architects. A catholic school that stood on the lot was torn down, the bricks
cleaned and used for inside work on the building.
1876 - By November of this year, the area where the Sunday School rooms and
parlor are was completed. Services were held here until the rest of the
building was finished. FCCC gives birth to Lorain Christian Temple in Elyria
1877 - Women' s Christian Missionary Society formed (CWF)
1878 - FCCC gives birth to Lakewood Christian Church
1883 - Construction of sanctuary building completed and dedication took place
May 13. The building cost $95,000 and was paid for as it was built.
1888 - FCCC gives birth to West Blvd. Christian Church
1893 - Jessie Brown Pounds publishes hymn “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth”
1897 - FCCC gives birth to Highland Christian Church
1901 - Cleveland Christian Home founded by R.H. Timme
1910 - 1930 Chinese Sunday School an active part of church=s life. As many as
600 immigrants were served by the program.
1916 - Sunday School/Community building completed. Also, the organ was rebuilt
and moved from the center to the side of the choir loft.
1919 - A bronze tablet honoring service men of FCCC was installed in the
1921 - Rev. F. H. Groom begins 25-year pastorate
1922 - Cleveland Messiah Chorus founded
1940's - Living Link Missionary, Lelia Barber Baker, supported in her work in
1941 - Renovation and redecoration of the church's sanctuary completed.
1947 - Chimes were installed for the organ in memory of those who died or were
missing in action in World War II.
1953 - Tornado hits neighborhood. The chimney falls and damages part of the
sanctuary, including a stained glass window.
1955 - Cross on the church tower installed and dedicated to those who served in
World War II, and in memory of Charles Hofrichter.
1956 - FCCC gives birth to Westlake Christian Church
1957 - FCCC gives birth to Parma Christian Church.
1961 - The organ was rebuilt and the pulpit furniture was reupholstered. Tower
chimes and a public address system were installed.
1962 - After School Program founded. The sacristy was created.
1965 - Portrait gallery of senior pastors of the church was created in parlor.
1970 - Landscaping around the church was improved, and a planter on the Fulton
Rd. side of the church was added.
1972 - A chair lift was installed in the narthex.
1973 - Senior Citizen Nutritional Program begins at FCCC
1974 - FCCC declared an Historical Landmark by the City of Cleveland.
1976 - Thursday Night Meal Program begins at FCCC
1980 - Land purchased adjacent to the community building and the parking lot was
1981 - The parlor was redecorated and the Senior Meal Program was moved to the
1982 - The sanctuary was redecorated and a new ceiling was installed. The
restrooms below the sanctuary were remodeled.
1986 - New pew cushions were purchased and installed in the sanctuary.
1988 - WSEM Head Start program begins at FCCC and would be housed here until
1991. The Chapel balcony rooms were redecorated.
1989 - North American Indian Cultural Center housed at FCCC in what was called
the “Junior Chapel”
1991 - El Barrio's first home is at FCCC, for 18 months. A puppet ministry was
begun. A campaign for the restoration of our organ was launched for our 150th
Anniversary, and an expanded music program was seeded by a gift from the estate
of Dorothy Hofrichter. An AIDS awareness ministry begins.
1992 - Covenant Teen Alcohol & Drug Rehab. Program moves to FCCC, until 2003.
1994 - Updates to the church office were completed, including computerization
1996 - A new organ console was installed.
2000 - After School Computer Lab began.
2001 - FCCC enters Redevelopment Program with Region of Ohio.
2002 - The Faith & Community Life Award was inaugurated, with the initial
recipients being Martha Harkness (posthmously) and Ted Brogan. The Circle
Project fundraising campaign begins, focusing on handicap accessibility, a new
multi-media center, improving security and access to the building, getting
commercial refrigerator and freezer for the kitchen, improving the beauty of the
sanctuary. Through a generous gift in memory of Dr. Webb Chamberlain, the
project was a success.
2004 - The first phase of the Circle Project, the Media Center, was dedicated in
the Chapel on May 2, including digital projection equipment and a complete sound
system. The Faith & Community Life was awarded to Ada Smith, Claude Pitman, and
Dr. Webb Chamberlain (posthumously)
2005 - The second phase of the Circle Project, the Sanctuary and Narthex
Renovations, and handicap lift in the narthex were dedicated May 1.
Not yet dated:
FCCC gives birth to North Eaton Christian
Girl Scout Troop #7 founded at FCCC
Boy Scout troop #36 founded at FCCC
Theatrical troupe begins to share in life
Senior Pastors Of Franklin Circle Christian Church
Henry 1842 - 1843
2. John Robison 1844-1846
3. A. S. Hayden 1847 - 1849
4. Lathrop Cooley 1850 - 56 - 57 - 59 - 73
5. William Hayden 1851-1853
6. J. W. Lanpheare 1852
7. A. B. Green 1854-1855
8. James Abram Garfield 1857
9 W.A. Belding 1858
10. Mathew Clapp 1858
11. William Robison 1859-1860
12. D. K. Winder 1861-1862
13. C. C. Foote 1863 - 65 - 68
14. B. A. Hinsdale 1866
15. Isaac Errett 1867
16. James Cannon 1869
17. Silas Shepard 1870 - 1872
18. Alanson Wilcox 1874 - 1879
19. J. J. Atwater 1879 - 1884
20. S. Lloyd Carsie 1884 - 1896
21. J. W. Allen 1886 - 1899
22. W. W. Sniff 1899 - 1902
23. C.H. Plattenberg 1902 - 1903
24. Edgar Dewitt Jones 1903 - 1906
25. E. B. Bagby 1906 - 1908
26. William Rothenburger 1908 - 1918
27. E. B. Barnes 1918 - 1920
28. F. H. Groom 1921 - 1946
29. Hoke Dickinson 1947 - 1953
30. Ernest S. Harrold 1954 - 1960
31. Richard Wilcox 1961 - 1966
32. Gordon Hagberg 1967 - 1974
33. Neil Wallace Deupree May 1976 - January 16, 1990
34. Richard A. Beach Nov. 1, 1990 - August 31, 1996
35. William R. Kimball Sept. 1, 1998 - Feb. 15, 2000 (Co-Pastor - Trial
36. Christine Tseng-Kimball Nov. 1, 1998 - Dec. 31, 1999 (Co-Pastor)
37. Allen V. Harris Apr. 16, 2001 -
Interims & Associates:
Larry Pigg, Associate -- ?1962-1965?
Carl Hilgert Associate -- ?1967-1974
Manuel Tamayo, Associate - ?1967-1974?
Jerry Sullivan, Assoc._ -- ?
George Gates, Interim -- Feb. 25, 1990 - Oct. 31, 1990
Connie K. Strawn-Bradow, Interim -- Sept. 1, 1996 - July 26, 1998
William Spangler, Interim -- June 6, 2000 - April 15, 2001
Cleveland: The Making of a City
By William Ganson Rose
Contributor John J. Grabowski
Published by Kent State University Press, 1990
ISBN 0873384288, 9780873384285
(Try searching for "Franklin Circle" in the search
box on the right side of the page!)
Link to Cleveland City Council notice about FCCC's Historic Landmark Status.
Cleveland City Planning Commission listing of Historic Landmarks.
Link to the
Cleveland Memory Project
Link to a
Historical Timeline for the City of Cleveland
Link to a Great CSU Article on Immigration and the
Near West Side.