But for 100 years, the white marble church has taken its place on Second Avenue and kept quiet vigil over that part of the community.
According to Senior Minister Lebron McBride, the recognizable white marble the church is made of, was actually unusable marble — odds and ends rejected by during construction of other structures. The unusable marble was donated and hauled to Rome by railroad from the Tate Quarry in Pickens County. The marble was then chipped and made into uniform blocks to construct the church in 1912 at a cost of $35,000.
“It is amazing to consider the placement of the heavy blocks of marble at that time in history without the use of the modern equipment we have today,” McBride said. “Although the record has not survived, horses and mules along with ropes and pulleys must have been used.”
But the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) had been in Rome before the current church was built. The church was organized in 1896 with 12 charter members who met in various places such as the courthouse, Bosworth building as well as the high school and Strand Theater.
In 1901, a simple wooden sanctuary was erected on East Third Street, just back from where the present church sits.
The first minister, B.B. McCraw, was a graduate of Yale College and practiced law until the Civil War. He was severely wounded in the Battle of Franklin, Tenn. He later left the bar and entered the ministry.
Today, the church is home to about 100 members.
“It’s always been a relatively smaller congregation,” McBride said. “The Christian church (Disciples of Christ) has encouraged more freedom of the individual as well as individual interpretation and ideas. We hope that we’re providing support for the community. It’s important for us to feel we’re contributing to some of the special needs in the community by providing a place for people to feel comfortable.”
He said the church is sometimes called a “Bridge Church” since its beliefs have common components of several denominations.
“That’s because of the acceptance of various traditions and persons who come from differing backgrounds can feel comfortable together in the church where there is a wider range of theological belief and practice,” McBride said.
The First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has its origins on the American Frontier in the early 1800’s. Membership was, and still is, granted after a simple confession of a desire to follow the teaching of Jesus Christ. The denomination values the freedom of each individual to make up his or her own mind and allows for differing opinions. The church baptizes by immersion, but accepts other forms of baptism of those wishing to join who were baptized by other means. A distinctive feature among the protestants of which they are a part, is that the Disciples of Christ observe the Lord’s Supper each Sunday.
First Christian Church of downtown Rome has been active in the community over the years and contributes to such community outreaches as The Good Neighbor Ministry. The church houses the “Meals and More” program for the working poor and participates in this venture with several other area churches. Sack lunches are provided each Tuesday afternoon.
To date over 120,000 sack lunches have been freely provided since the inception of the program in 2004. Another program called “Backpack Buddies” that provides supplies and food to school children is also in existence. The church, additionally, supports the Week of Compassion and other offerings in its denomination to help people around the world.
The current ministers at First Christian Church of Rome are Rev. Dr. LeBron McBride, Senior Minister and Horace Stewart, Associate Minister and Minister of Pastoral Care. They came on board together as a team eleven years ago.
McBride said while members are proud of the church’s 100 year anniversary, they are even more proud to have served the community’s needs for so long.
“Significant ministry has been done over the last hundred years by this church and there is a good spirit within it,” he said. “Services are conducted each Sunday at 11 o’clock and visitors are welcome.”
First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is located at 209 E. Second Ave. and their website is RomeDisciples.org.