A Family of Perfectly Imperfect People


The history of Sunset Church of Christ has at it’s roots a planted church. Sunset is the result of a merger between the Broadway & Madison and the Scenic & Weaver congregations. These two congregations, each with long histories in Springfield, merged in March 1985, when they began meeting in the Scenic & Weaver building. Construction began on a new church building at the corner of Fort & Sunset and the first services were held there August 1986. However, to understand the deep “Church Planting” roots of this congregation, a brief history is in order.


The Scenic & Weaver congregation was first known as the Walnut Hill church. The old Walnut Hill building was constructed on land donated by brother Alexander Clapp in 1882. But around 1890, the congregation divided over the use of instrumental music. Those who wished to have instrumental music took possession of the building for several years but then deserted it. In 1911, those who had opposed the use of an instrument began using the building again.

Around 1912, Brother O.L. Hardin moved his family from Texas into the old Walnut Hill church building until he bought a farm and moved from the building. At that time the brethren, who had refused to use the organ, returned to the Walnut Hill building. Later the Walnut Hill building was sold and moved. The Central Point School property nearby which had been bought was used as a place of worship. In the early 1970’s a new auditorium was added to the old school building and later a classroom and office addition. The Walnut Hill church became known as the South Scenic & Weaver church of Christ when the streets were finally named.


The Broadway & Madison congregation met for the first time in their new building in February of 1916. Broadway & MadisonBrother O.L. Hardin was the first minister. This congregation was planted through the efforts of the Johnston & Dale church. In the 1920’s, the building was expanded and as growth continued, a property was purchased on South National Ave. and a new congregation was planted there. The South National Ave. congregation’s new building was completed in 1930. Several of the members of Broadway & Madison moved to the new congregation to help get it started. In 1958 yet another addition was completed on the Broadway & Madison building. And in the 1960’s five acres were purchased in the Southwest part of the city as future needs were anticipated.


In the mid-1980’s, leaders of the Scenic & Weaver and Broadway & Madison congregations began exploring the possibilities of a merger. John Alley was the minister of the Scenic & Weaver congregation and Dave Dowlen was the minister at Broadway and Madison. The cooperative spirits of both these men and the elders in each congregation helped to lay a foundation of love and teamwork that has been the hallmark of the church ever since.

The assets of both churches were combined to construct the new facility at the corner of South Fort and West Sunset on the five acres of land purchased years before by the Broadway & Madison congregation. In August 1986, the first services were held in the new building. The elders and deacons or the new Sunset Church of Christ were comprised of men from both congregations. The first elders at Sunset were: Lowell DeBusk, Doyal Lindsey, Orin Robinson, Gene Scroggins, J.W. Smith and Darrel York. The first deacons were: Carlyle Cochran, Jess Hedden, Robert Kerley, Jerry Mays, Jack Miller, Don Smith and Lewis Walsh. John Alley and Dave Dowlen continued to serve as ministers of the new congregation.

The Sunset Church of Christ has enjoyed decades of growth and unity. During this time, Bruce Potter served as pulpit minister from 1988 – 1992 and Joe Bright began serving in that capacity in June 1993 and still serves today. And with church planting in her roots, Sunset has continued the tradition and has had three successful church plants as well as several sponsored ministries.