One year ago, the congregation of the Mulberry Christian Church made a difficult decision.


“There were only six of us left,” said Ed King, who became a church elder in 1983. “We just couldn’t physically and financially keep it going.”


The building was sold to the All Faith Church, and then the congregation had another decision to make — what to do with the money. “We wanted to give back to the community for all the support it had given the church over the past century,” King said.


 

One year ago, the congregation of the Mulberry Christian Church made a difficult decision.


“There were only six of us left,” said Ed King, who became a church elder in 1983. “We just couldn’t physically and financially keep it going.”


The building was sold to the All Faith Church, and then the congregation had another decision to make — what to do with the money. “We wanted to give back to the community for all the support it had given the church over the past century,” King said.


The result, a chapel at Rosebank Cemetery, was dedicated Monday following Memorial Day services.  


“It takes pillars of the community to make this happen, and we have several pillars,” said Randy Jones, Mulberry mayor. “The city and people of Mulberry thank the church for this chapel.”


“A good friend, Ronnie Talbott of Liberal, Mo., told us about a little country church that closed, and it had built a chapel at a cemetery,” King said. “That’s how we came up with the idea.”


“They started construction right after the first of the year, and wanted it to be done on Memorial Day,” Jones said. “They almost succeeded.”


There was a very special reason why the former Mulberry Christian Church congregation wanted to finish and dedicate the church by Memorial Day. 


“Our last service was one year ago today, on May 25, 2008,” King said. “That was one of the saddest things I’ve ever had to do.”


The chapel is complete except for  doors and some other finishing touches. It includes some memorial plaques from the old church.


King said the congregation had its beginnings on Nov. 25, 1908, when a small group of people met to establish a Christian church in Mulberry. A charter was granted on Aug. 24, 1909.


“At first the congregation met at the Owl Building on South Main, and later on it had a room above Smilie’s Grocery Store,” King said. “The congregation grew and decided it needed to build a church. The first church building was dedicated on Aug. 27, 1916. Ten years later, they had a mortgage-burning party followed by a fellowship dinner.”


The church did suspend services for a time during World War II. “After the war a group of ladies started it up again,” King said.


On March 15, 1982, a tornado struck Mulberry and the church was damaged beyond repair.


“Mike Dean, who was the pastor, had preached a sermon not too long before that, telling us the church wasn’t the building — it was the people,” King said. “We kept going and made plans for a new building. Help came from every direction, and we had our firs service in the new church in January 1983. The mortgage burning was on May 26, 1985.”


The new building served as the congregation dwindled. In later years, it didn’t have a pastor, but for the last four years, Ken Sommerfeldt of the First Baptist Church, Girard, drove over and preached for the congregation.


Among those present Monday was Deane Yencic, longtime teacher and Mulberry Christian Church member. “I spent many happy years in that church,” she said.


King and the others hope that the new chapel will be a reminder of the Mulberry Christian Church and its 100 years of history and service.


“All of us have attended graveside services here at Rosebank Cemetery and other cemeteries during inclement weather,” he said. “We just hope this chapel will provide solace to families when they lay their loved ones to rest.”