Community History - Covington - Madison Avenue Christian Church
The Madison Avenue Christian Church was established in 1912 with the merger of the Fourth Street Christian Church and the Central Christian Church. The Fourth Street Church was established in 1874, when a group of disenchanted members of First Christian left to start a new congregation. In 1875, the new congregation purchased the old First Presbyterian Church on Fourth Street at the head of Court Street. The neighborhood around the church grew more industrial and commercial over the next two decades. By the late 1800s, the congregation began discussing the possibility of relocating to a more residential neighborhood. The Central Christian Church was established in 1909 following the successful revival held by J.A. Lord. The congregation worshipped in a private residence at 18th and Greenup Streets. In 1910, the congregation purchased a site at the corner of Scott and 18th Streets as a site for a permanent church building.
Both the Fourth Street Christian Church and the Central Christian Church were both working toward the construction of new churches in 1910. The ministers and members of the two congregations began talking about a possible merger. These talks reached a consensus in 1912. On April 12th of that year, the new Madison Avenue Christian Church was established. The incorporators were: J.B. Heiser, O.J. Carpenter, S.G. Boyd, W.S. Giltner, T.C. Ranshaw, T.G. Kennedy, T.M. Pearce, A.F. Berte, T.M. Fisher and Rodney Cord. The two congregations decided that the Reverend Joseph Willis Hagin, Pastor of the Fourth Street Congregation, would be the first Pastor of the new church.
Florence G. Kennedy, a member of the Fourth Street Church, agreed to donate a lot on the eastside of Madison Avenue between 15th and 16th Streets as a site for the new church. The new Madison Avenue Christian Church was designed by local architects C.C. and E.A. Weber. The Italian Renaissance Revival design called for a two-story brick structure surmounted by a large dome. The main entry was adorned with a large portico supported by Ionic columns. The lower level contained classrooms and meeting rooms, while the upper floor housed the main auditorium. The new church was dedicated on November 30, 1913. The congregation boasted a membership of 400 at the time of the dedication.
The interior of the new Madison Avenue Christian Church evolved over time. At the time of the dedication, the Hanks memorial stained glass window was installed in the church. The window had been donated by Jennie C. Hanks in memory of her husband and two sons. The window was produced by the Grau Art Glass Company of Cincinnati and was designed around the theme of the Resurrection. Another window was also ready for installation at the time of the dedication. This window was planned around the theme of Christ blessing the children, and was donated by Mrs. Clifford Ross in memory of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Hayden Kendall. In time, two additional stained glass windows were donated to the church. In 1930, Miss Lyde Font and Mrs. Mollie Pearce donated a window which depicted sunrise on Easter morning. Another window was donated by fifty families of the congregation in 1951. This window depicts Jesus with outstretched hands and the words “Come unto me.”
Madison Avenue Christian’s second Pastor was the Reverend Kenneth B. Bowen. Reverend Bowen served from 1927 until 1945. Bowen resided in a home at 1554 Madison Avenue which had been donated to the congregation by Mr. and Mrs. William S. Giltner. This home was sold in 1929, and a new parsonage was purchased at 1135 Audubon Road in suburban Park Hills. Reverend Bowen oversaw the erection of an education building in 1929-1930. The addition was dedicated on April 20, 1930. The cost of construction was $56,000.
The congregation’s third Pastor was the Reverend Barton J. Johnson. Johnson served from 1945 until 1965. More current pastors were: Lawrence G. Crane (1965-1970), Robert H. Anderson (1970-1977) and Philip Miller (1978-1985).
Madison Avenue Christian Church, Covington, Kentucky, Golden Anniversary 1963; Kentucky Post, February 8, 1912, p. 3, March 19, 1912, p. 7, March 27, 1912, p. 7, April 12, 1912, p. 5 and May 5, 1912, p. 3;