Our story begins in 1903 when a group of committed leaders founded a new Church of Christ after 20 years of gathering unofficially. Three years later in 1906, this church raised money to begin Childers Classical Institute, a Christian college now known as Abilene Christian University. The church gathered for services every week in the college’s administration building until January 28th, 1929 when a fire destroyed the building. Abilene Christian College, as it was known then, relocated to northeast Abilene, where it remains today. The Church of Christ amicably split, with some members choosing to move with the school, and another group deciding to remain in the area.
On December 29, 1929, the small group of about 50 remaining Church of Christ members purchased land at the corner of South 5th and Highland to construct a new building. When the first portion of the building, the basement, was completed in 1930 the members began meeting there. “We just dug a hole in the ground and started going to church in it,” recalled Frank Sheppard, first minister of Highland Church of Christ.
Building the rest of the church took much longer than anticipated due to The Great Depression, but it was completed in 1938. Highland quickly grew and by 1956 another major construction project was underway. The new auditorium was built to seat 1,500 people. Highland uses the same auditorium to the present day, after a much needed 2014 remodel updated the existing structure.
For almost 100 years, Highland Church of Christ has actively ministered in Abilene, Texas and in many places around the world. Through the years Highland has had over 75 active ministries that serve the church members of all ages and the community of Abilene. Local ministries include Christian Ministries of Abilene (food pantry), Freedom Fellowship & Grace Fellowship (outreach satellite campuses), Boys & Girls Club, a Boy Scout Troop, the Highland Counseling Center, and many more.
Several non-profit ministry organizations have spun out of the Highland Church, including Christian Homes and Family Services of Abilene, Herald of Truth, Disability Resources, Inc., and FaithWorks of Abilene. Additionally, Highland has participated in mission efforts in Spain, Portugal, Cuba, Thailand, Brazil, Eastern Europe, Peru, China, and several other countries. International Mission work is still an integral part of Highland’s DNA.
Through the decades, Highland has had 11 preaching ministers. Highland currently has 33 Elders. These elders have always been led by the Holy Spirit to be visionaries for the spreading of the gospel, helping the poor and hungry, equipping church leaders, and building up the body of Christ.
Currently Highland is guided by its Restoration Vision – identifying and focusing on ways in which Highland can join God in the restoration of all things. The three pillars of this vision are Restoring Highland, Restoring Abilene, and Restoring the World.
Highland’s legacy and sphere of influence among churches of Christ has been very strong. The Lord has used the Highland Church of Christ to accomplish remarkable things during her history. We believe that Highland’s best days are ahead – worshiping God, teaching the gospel, loving our neighbors and friends, and highlighting the spiritual giftedness of all members to serve and bless others in the name of Jesus.