Here is a brief overview of what I consider to be the essentials of our Congregational History.
By Thomas J. Short
The New Testament Church began at Jerusalem, Israel, on the Day of Pentecost (late May) in AD 33, exactly 50 days after the bodily resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This earliest congregation of Jewish believers consisted of those who had repented of their personal sin and who were subsequently immersed into the death and resurrection of Christ so that they might specifically have their sins removed and receive the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit. As an organized group they were committed to Apostolic Teaching, Fellowship and Prayer. (Acts 2:1ff) It is our intention to imitate these same core practices within the Elkhart East congregation.
By AD 43, after huge numbers of Gentiles (non-Jews) living in Antioch, Syria, had accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, the term Christian had become the common way of referring to those who followed the teachings of Jesus Christ. (Acts 11:22-26) Today we proudly bear that same name as individual believers and have incorporated it into our congregational name as well.
By the end of the 1st Century, as predicted by Jesus Christ, and His Apostles & Prophets, false teachers had begun to twist the basic doctrines of the Christian Church. With the rise of Roman governmental persecution in the 1st-3rd Centuries, followed by Roman governmental approval in the 3rd-4th Centuries and finally by Roman governmental control established in the 4th-5th Centuries, European Christianity underwent many changes. Over time, the Bible (which is the only true defense against perversions of the Faith), was lost to the common reader in Europe, being only accessible to priests who read ancient Latin. While something of the original Church remained intact (a sort of remnant, if you please) it would be only a weak shadow of its New Testament self for the next thousand years.
Preceded by the work of 14th/15th Century scholars like Wycliffe & Hus (who, even under threat of death, committed themselves to making the Bible readily accessible to the common readers of their countries), the 16th Century Protestant Reformation went on to strongly insist that European Christianity return to a standard of Church authority that was based on the Bible alone. This marked a major turning point in the appropriate restoration of the New Testament Church to its original state.
Unfortunately, European Protestantism waned somewhat in its commitment to Biblical authority and was itself soon being used as a political tool in the very turbulent situation surrounding the European political assimilation of the New World. Because of governmental persecution throughout the 17th and 18th Centuries, some of the most conservative, Bible-believing components of European Protestantism ended up being established on the eastern shores of North America. This fact, combined with the early 18th Century revival now called the First Great Awakening, resulted in the unique promotion of and the special protections afforded to Protestant Christianity within the early history of our United States.
As the newly-birthed United States pushed westward, a particular form of conservative, back-to-the-Bible, Protestant Christianity arose on its frontiers. Leaders within this “Restoration Movement” (as it is now known) rejected denominational creeds and the centralized control exercised over individual congregations by the various denominations and strove to reestablish the practices of the early, New Testament Church. Elkhart East is historically tied to this American Restoration Movement.
In 1995, the Goshen Christian Church helped give birth to the River Crossing Christian Church, hoping to establish a restoration church on the east-side of Elkhart, near the Six-Span Bridge. In 2004, the River Crossing congregation acquired property just north of the curve of County Road 17. Having built a new building on this property near the Elkhart East Indiana Toll Road interchange, the congregation decided to change its name to the Elkhart East Christian Church in early 2008 in order to better reflect its new home.
If you serve the risen Savior, you are more than welcome to come & grow with us.