Quick Links Quick Links

Historical Sketch of the Cramer & Hanover Church of Christ

by Submitted by Bennie Hill


199 North Hanover Ave., Lexington, Kentucky 40502

Established March 4, 1915

The Cramer & Hanover Church of Christ was “set to order” March 4, 1915 in the home of Bro. Joe & Sis. Naomi Morrison. They were newlyweds having recently set up housekeeping in Lexington. As a result of Sis. Morrison’s inquiries into the existence of a Church of Christ in Lexington, Bro. H.C. Shoulders, preacher at the Winchester Church of Christ, located 12 people who came to that first service. Among them were the Morrisons, the Shockneys, Mrs. Wm. Parrish, Miss Dora Watts, Mr. John Lawrence & Mrs. Dee Baber. It was Bro. Lowery who set the church in order.

This group of believers continued to meet in individual homes, including Bro. C.E. Smith’s home in the country and the Shockneys’ home, being more convenient to the car line. On April 11th they began meeting in the Jackson Hall on S. Limestone, and then the Masonic Temple Building on North Broadway. Both Walter Harding and F.L. Rowe, along with H.C. Shoulders, spoke intermittently.

From this development grew the interest and necessity of purchasing property to house the newly founded and growing congregation. In April of 1916, the property upon which the church was first built (199 North Hanover Ave.) was purchased from the estate of Bro. J.W. McGarvey who was the founding minister of the Broadway Christian Church. Bro. McGarvey taught at the College of the Bible (Transylvania) and one of his students, John Jesse Mountjoy, asked him to perform his wedding to Irene Sutherland. After John Jesse’s death, some ten years later, she and her second husband, Tom Reeves, began attending Cramer.

Other families attending during the early years were Mr. Lowery and son, Mr/Mrs. Cleod Smith, Mr./Mrs. R.F. Byron (Naomi Morrison’s sister), Mr/Mrs. Bailey Gentry (brother of Naomi), Mr/Mrs. Harvey Dean (moved to Lexington from Ebenezer Church of Christ), Clyde Cope and family, E.C. Detherage and family, Mr/Mrs Estes, T.A. Gourley and family, Mr/Mrs. Howard Smith, Mr/Mrs. H.V. Tanner and family, Sterling Hukle and family, the Ransdell family, and Mr/Mrs. John Handy (customers in H.A.Schockney’s shoe repair shop) were invited by Bro. Schockney and started attending Cramer the same year they married.

Among the early preachers at Cramer were J.A. Harding, M.C. Kurfees, H.H. Adams, J. P. South, S.H. Jones, E.P. Watson, F.L. Rowe, J.W. Shepherd, H.L. Olmstead, R.H. Boll, E.L. Jorgenson, J.L. Hines, W.K. Harding and Bro. Baumer. Missionaries whom Cramer supported and those who visited Cramer in the early years included from Japan, J.M. McCaleb and Harry & Herman Fox; from China, George Benson and E.L. Broaddus; from Honolulu, Max Langsap; from South America, Virgil Smith; and from Africa, Dow Merritt. Through the years Cramer continued to have a strong missions emphasis and today houses the Missions office for the Church of Christ Worldwide.

In 1919 Bro. Homer Neely Rutherford held his first revival meeting at Cramer. He came back for two other meetings before accepting the full-time ministry here on July 4, 1932. There were about 25 members in attendance at that time. The same year he came, the original cottage occupied by the Shockney family was moved and the property cleared to begin work on the basement. While work progressed, the congregation met in nearby Ashland School.   On December 18, 1932, services were held in the new basement with Bro. N. Wilson Burks speaking at an afternoon service.

Evangelists who held meetings in the basement included R.H. Boll, D.H. Friend, and H.L. Olmstead. Work progressed on the second floor while members met in the basement. Bro. Shirley Scroggins was the last to be baptized in the downstairs baptistery.   In 1936 the present stone building was dedicated. The second floor was completed at a cost of $12,000.00. Bro. & Sis. G. B. Ward donated the corner stone. Bro. John Preston was the first to be baptized in the current baptistery.

For the next thirty-eight years. Bro. H.N. Rutherford served as Cramer and Hanover’s full-time minister. Three mission congregations were started in Lexington while H.N. was minister. The Melrose Church of Christ was located on the west end of town. When it closed its doors in 1979 the Willard Potter family began worshipping at Cramer. The Prall Street Church of Christ was attended by African Americans. The Perry St. Church of Christ or West End Mission reached out to the inner city. Though its doors closed, the bus ministry, which began in the late 1970’s, was an offspring of this mission.

Upon Bro. Rutherford’s retirement in August of 1970, Billy Ray Lewter, former missionary to the Philippines, began as minister and continued until August of 1973. Julius Hovan came in August of 1973 and continued through December of 1974. From January to November services were conducted by Billy Lewter, Victor Broaddus and the elders. Even though retired, Bro. Rutherford continued on at Cramer as Associate Minister until his death sixteen years later in 1986.

On November 2, 1975, Bro. Bennie Hill came to Lexington to serve as full-time minister and has continued for these last 39 years. God’s hand was at work in Bro. Bennie’s life in ways he didn’t know. Bro. Rutherford’s wife was Mary Adele and Bro. Bennie married her granddaughter Frances Adele.   H.N.’s twin was named for Dr. Bennett who delivered her, and Ben’s father was named for Dr. Bennett who delivered him in the same county. Bro. Rutherford began preaching in Louisville then later preached in Florida before coming to Lexington. Bro. Bennie also began preaching in Louisville, then Florida and finally in Lexington. For both ministers each time they moved to another state another child was born.

In 1976 an addition was added to the auditorium including a fellowship room, kitchen, Sunday School rooms and offices. One of the offices is occupied by the Church of Christ Worldwide. Bro. Victor Broaddus, who in 1951 was set apart by the Cramer congregation for missionary work in the Philippines, served as the first director for this office. Currently Bro. David Harding serves as director with his wife Betsy as Administrative Assistant and Stanna Page as Treasurer. This office collects and distributes funds around the world, handling close to $150,000 last year.

Soon after the addition was added a bus was purchased and a year later a Sunday morning route began. After that a Wednesday evening route was added.   About 100 souls have been added to Christ’s body through this bus evangelism. In the mid-eighties the 54 passenger bus carried as many as 78 riders to Vacation Bible School. The bus evangelism also created a strong camp emphasis. For quite a few summers as many as 60 campers and staff attended Woodland Bible Camp in Linton, Indiana, sponsored by the Premillennial Churches of Christ.

Throughout these 100 years God has been faithful though Satan has been at work to put out the light of the gospel here at 199 North Hanover. Even as early as the first meetings in the Morrisons’ home there were those Christians who attempted to forbid them to meet. And later Bro. Rutherford was discriminated against and not received by others in the Church of Christ, even his kin, on account of holding to a literal fulfillment of Daniel 2:4: 11:1-12; Jeremiah 30:1-11; Hosea 5:14; Joel 3:9; Zechariah 14:1-11; Luke 1:30-33; Isaiah 9:6-8. Furthermore he believed in Revelation 20 to mean that there shall be a literal reign of Christ upon the earth of 1,000 years. Bro. Bennie Hill, years later, was asked by the teachers at the college he attended to sign a statement that he would not promote or discuss with other students his beliefs in Bible prophecy.

Just as described in the Word and Work in 1918, our congregation continues to work at restoring primitive Christianity in the city of Lexington. In preaching the Word in its simplicity we strive for unity as we unite with the Lord and “pray that we may be one.”

We are happy to welcome each of you who have come today! It is good seeing many faces from the past and it encourages us to know that you are continuing to serve the Lord. Our prayer is that each of you will continue to be faithful even as God is faithful. May each of us be watching and waiting “looking for the Blessed Hope and appearing of our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:11)

Maranatha, Maranatha, Our Lord Come!

2 Responses to “Historical Sketch of the Cramer & Hanover Church of Christ”

  1. Nikkolai M. Rubio says:

Leave a Reply

I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13