Worshiping God Since 1886
The very first inkling of the Seventh-day Adventist church in Kansas City was when Edson White and his wife, Emma, held a Bible study gathering on the porch of their home on 12th Street near Tracy on August 9, 1884. Ellen G. White and ten other believers were present. Writing of this meeting in an issue of the Review and Herald magazine, Mrs. White observed, "Who knows how many souls God may yet raise up to His glory, even though many hardships be encountered along the way." Several colporteurs came to help in the work, and a Sabbath School was organized in July of 1885.
By the summer of 1886, the Conference President, Dan T. Jones, and others felt the time had come for the Kansas City mission to become a church. As summer approached, the workers had pitched a tent on the corner of 14th and Flora, and on September 8, 1886, the church now known as the Kansas City Central Seventh-day Adventist Church was organized. There were 21 charter members. By October, the church was admitted to the Conference of Seventh-day Adventists with 31 members.
With the coming of cold weather, a hall at the corner of 18th Street and Woodland Avenue was rented. The little church struggled and grew. It moved five times in seventeen years. They bought a lot at the corner of 12th and Woodland and built a basement that they planned to occupy as the church building was being constructed. By 1901 the membership had grown to 265 and the basement was outgrown.
The first full-time pastor, Elder Elwin Merrill, came in 1901. In 1902, plans were made to sell the basement property and halls were rented on Bales Avenue at 12th Street and at 9th and Michigan. A lot was purchased in 1903 on the northwest corner of 14th and Michigan and a neat brick building was built. It was called the First Church of Seventh-day Adventists. On January 13, 1909, this church building was destroyed by fire, but with insurance monies and generous freewill offerings, the building was replaced free of debt. During the rebuilding, the members were able to meet in the Methodist church at the corner of 14th and Campbell. In 1909 a tent meeting (such were popular at the time) was held with former Pastor Elwin Merrill as the evangelist. In July 1910, Drs. D. H. and Lauretta Kress came to give health lectures.
By 1917, the membership was growing so rapidly that it was apparent a move was in order. In August 1919, the Methodist church on the corner of Linwood and Charlotte was purchased at a cost of $21,000. This attractive stone church with the beautiful stained glass windows and circular balcony had a seating capacity of 750, and it was immediately known as the Linwood Boulevard Seventh-day Adventist Church. During the pastorate of Charles T. Everson (1919-1922) there was a great deal of evangelistic activity, as he was well known for his powerful lectures. On one day, 135 persons were baptized.
In August 1920, the first church school was established, and it was held in the basement of the church. In 1922 a lot was purchased at 3023 Monroe for the purpose of building a new school. The school building was completed in 1924.
Under the counsel of the next pastor, F. W. Paap (1922-1924), Evangelist Bryan D. Robinson and Conference President H. C. Hartwell, it was decided to have a re-organization of the church. The new name was Memorial Seventh-day Adventist Church and the membership now stood at 413.
Elder George West (1928-1932) came as pastor with two great burdens on his heart: the salvation of souls and to clear the debt of the church. He took the money he had saved to replace his worn and tattered suit and gave it on the debt of the church. He and his wife cut short their food at home. One time they had only peaches from a tree in their back yard. The church members followed his example. These were depression days. The church telephone was disconnected and the lights were turned off, but the debt was paid on April 9, 1932. On one occasion, 94 people were baptized and on April 12, 1932, 48 more were baptized. Elder Neff was assistant pastor, and he solicited his own salary of $100 per month from the members.
Work for the youth and an outreach to the unsaved was increased during the period 1932-1939. Bakeries were started in homes, with the youth delivering the products. Slices of pie were sold to W.P.A. workers. The Dorcas ladies made quilts, held rummage sales, set up soup kitchens for the hungry, and gave away food baskets. On November 16, 1937, a newspaper called The Scroll was started by the youth, recording their fun-times as well as featuring articles written by the Conference President. This paper continued until at least 1944, and its name was then changed to Kansas City Junior Message. During the pastorate of Elder A. E. Lickey (1936-1939) 75 to 100 people were added to the church. Services were held midweek and on Sunday evenings as well as the Sabbath.
In December 1939 the name of the church was changed to "Kansas City Central," the name it bears today. Elder Fordyce Detamore was pastor from 1939-1942. He actively involved the youth; there was the Sunshine (singing) Band and literature distribution. He was an evangelist, and held meetings in the church, the Athenaeum, and the Ivanhoe Temple. During his ministry 225 new members were added to the church. In April 1941, the church board voted to raise the teacher salary by $2.50 per month to make a total of $50! Elder Detamore also initiated a Bible correspondence course called The Radio Bible Lessons. The lessons were done in the basement of his home and the grading and mailing was handled by his wife, Aletha. This was the first Bible correspondence course to be offered by the denomination. When Elder Detamore was called to the Voice of Prophecy, the church membership stood at nearly 800, and was the largest of any non-institutional Seventh-day Adventist church in the nation.
Under the leadership of Elder R. B. Numbers (1941-1944) the Park Memorial Church was organized. During the pastorate of Elder A. A. Leiske (1946-1948) the church building was remodeled and redecorated. With the addition of some of the high school grades, the school at 3023 Monroe became Kansas City Junior Academy, and it needed more space. The lot across the street was purchased and material from an army barracks was purchased to build an additional building. An auditorium and cafeteria were included. A day care center for the public, initiated by Thelma McGuire, was added, providing additional income for the school.
Another daughter of the church was added during the pastorate of G. R. Freeman (1951-1954) when the New Haven Church was organized. The need for a new school became evident and plans were formulated under Elder Roger Brewer (1957-1964), and in September 1964 (after Elder Ray Davidson (1964-1969) became pastor, the move was made to the new school in Raytown, which became known as Cedarvale Junior Academy. During the time the school was being built, two more daughter churches were organized in Grandview and Independence. There were other significant events during Elder Davidson's pastorate. The Gladstone Church was organized. A new building for Central Church at 8929 Holmes was purchased. The congregation met in what became known as the Blue Chapel, with the addition of chairs in the foyer. Wisdom in the move was soon apparent. A few months after the move to the new location, the church on Linwood Boulevard burned in October 1968.
Under the direction of the next pastor, Elder Lee Hadley (1969-1973), and with much volunteer labor by dedicated men and women of the church, a new auditorium with rooms on the lower level was added to the church building. The ground-breaking was May 3, 1970. The basement, including a modern kitchen was finished during the pastorate of Elder Earl Snow. Elder Snow also started a church newsletter, The Central Courier, to keep members informed of church events. The church dedication came under Elder James King (1977-1981), April 8, 1978. Pastor Luis Torres and his wife Carol came to assist at Central during Elder Kings pastorate, heading up lay involvement. He was instrumental in the founding of the Lees Summit church, having held a tent meeting on a lot at the corner of M-291 and Chipman Road in Lees Summit.
During Elder Randall Murphy's ministry (1981-1986) a tape ministry was begun. Also, he was instrumental in bringing Elder Ignacio Chaviano and his wife Ana, who had been driven from their home in Cuba, to Central Church, and they raised up a Spanish church who shared the facilities of Central Church. Elder Chaviano was later the associate pastor of Central Church until he was called to a pastorate in Texas. Under Elder Murphy's leadership, also, Central Church built a building next to Cedarvale Junior Academy to house the local Adventist Book Center after the Conference office moved to Des Moines, Iowa. The office complex in the south wing of the church was completed under his direction. Shortly before Elder Murphy left, plans were laid to hold several Revelations Seminars in homes with lay members leading out. Elder Jerry Fore (1986-1992) followed through with these meetings when he came to Central Church. In 1992, a new church group was formed at Lees Summit, and during that summer.
Doug Woods, with his wife Donna, was the interim pastor at Central until Elder Ignacio Chaviano returned from pastoring in Texas to be Central's senior pastor. There have been two major evangelistic meetings during his pastorate, and also the church has participated in several of the Net satellite meetings. In 2002, Pastor Bob Joseph joined the Central Family followed by Pastor Terry Wolfe in 2006. During his tenure, Pastor Wolfe continued to grow the church's membership through Revelations Seminars amd small study classes, resulting in several baptisms. Then, Pastor Edye Campos (2010-2013) served as pastor of KC Central with a strong
There are many lay persons who have been involved in music, evangelistic outreach, medical, health, educational work, etc. who should be mentioned, but space is limited, and it would be too easy to omit some who should be included.