Learn About the History of Summit Christian Church


Summit Christian Church, Dayton, Ohio

is associated with “the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ),” the largest Protestant body founded on American soil. We began in 1804 in Cane Ridge, Kentucky and in 1809 in Washington County, Pennsylvania and Bethany, West Virginia. A dream that the Church of Jesus Christ could be one lead Thomas and Alexander Campbell, ministers of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Bethany, West Virginia and Barton W. Stone, a Presbyterian minister in Kentucky to reject all human creeds and names and to insist that “the stream of Christianity has become muddy. We will go back to the New Testament where the waters were pure, and sit at the feet of the Great Teacher and his apostles.” This they did, formulating their principle, “Where the Scriptures speak, we speak; where they are silent, we are silent,” In 1832, Campbell’s “Disciples” united with Stone’s “Christians” to form what is now known as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

When Baptism by Immersion Was Adopted

by the Disciples, they practically joined the Baptists but separated in 1830. Unlike most other American denominations, the Disciples suffered no separation over the question of slavery, but maintained their unity throughout the Civil War. While claiming for themselves the name “Christians” or “Disciples,” they do not deny that other churches are Christian, and they cooperate fully with all interdenominational agencies and practice “open communion.”

In Dayton, Ohio three men, Hayes Oltfliam, John D. Rice, and Henry L. France, rented a room on Calm Street and started Sunday School. As the attendance and interest grew, they called Elder Jason C. Cowan who organized the church in 1912.

The church has moved from the following locations: Washington Street to Odd Fellows Hall at Fifth and Mound Streets. While there, the congregation purchased ground at Norwood and Sprague Streets and built the first home of the congregation. Norwood Christian Church. Under the leadership of Pastor Eli W. and Dorothy Wilbert, the Norwood mortgage was paid off and the congregation purchased the facilities at Summit (now Paul Laurence Dunbar Street) and Mercer Streets in May 1946 for $48,000.