Central Christian Church predates New Mexico’s statehood, as pastor David McVey points out.
The church on Main Street was established in 1910, while New Mexico became a state in 1912. The congregation celebrated their 100th anniversary Sunday.
“We just wanted to mark that milestone, celebrate 100 years of service and ministry in the community,” McVey said.
At the anniversary worship services, Ben Partin, who grew up in the church and is now a youth minister in Los Alamos, spoke.
Church member and former pastor Kenneth Broad knew Partin as an infant and said it was good to see seeds the church planted showing growth.
“That was a real joy,” he said.
Also, the church held an anniversary luncheon that about 225 people attended, McVey said.
Central Christian is autonomous but affiliated with the Church of Christ and Christian Church denominations.
It began meeting at the corner of Fourth Street and Avenue C, a corner now populated by Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N’ Bake Pizza and Landall’s Box Office, Broad said. In 1958, the church moved to its current location, and in 1980 an addition was built.
Church member Melveta Green has attended the church since she was 2 years old. Now she’s 80.
“I guess it feels like home,” she said, explaining why she’s stayed. “I’ve been there so long, it’s just a home church.”
Green said it has to be the people that made the church last 100 years. They all are friendly and understand each other, she said.
Broad served as pastor from 1969 to 1985, and he and his wife, Shirley, have remained active in the church.
He believes a love for God and a desire to see people brought into a meaningful relationship with Christ, even if it means sacrificing to help people in difficult times, have kept the church going.
The church’s outreach includes a children’s program, a campus ministry at Eastern New Mexico University, teaching for adults, a food distribution program and support of local and foreign mission work.
In a letter commemorating the church’s anniversary, McVey said the congregation wasn’t celebrating just an institution’s survival.
“We celebrate hope, strength, grace, light and redemption,” he wrote. “We celebrate Christ who has lived and is living in this body, his church, Central Christian Church, Portales, New Mexico.”
McVey expects Central Christian to remain in that spirit.
“We want to continue to be a place where people can connect and continue to find support and faith and opportunity to serve,” he said.