The Gridley Apostolic Christian Church has approximately 360 members. Sunday attendance totals between 450 and 500 persons.
The church in Gridley is an outgrowth of a new movement which occurred in the 1830's in Europe when a young divinity student named Samuel H. Froehlich left the Swiss State church and began preaching and establishing congregations. The major emphasis was a recognition that the Scriptures were the only rule of faith and life. Following the teachings of Christ and the Apostles has been a major goal.
In Europe the church was known as Evangelical Baptist. In America, it was re-named Apostolic Christian because the church follows Christ and the Apostles, and also because leaders felt the church had some theological differences with Baptist denominations in America.
The congregation in Gridley, Illinois was officially established in 1870. Prior to that, a few families residing in the area would worship at the Apostolic Christian churches at Roanoke or Congerville.
By 1870, periodic services were held locally, and a year later were scheduled on a regular basis at Matthew Kaupp's home in the middle of the block on East Second Street, across from today's grain elevator. Ministers from Roanoke came to preach until a young brother in faith, Joel Herman, 21 and unmarried, became Gridley's first minister.
On January 16, 1874, General Ashael Gridley, a prominent land agent -- and the person for whom the village was named -- donated land for the first building "to be used as a church and none other but to worship the Almighty God". The site was at 208 East Gridley Road (on Route 24).
The original church was enlarged in 1887. In 1938, it was again enlarged, and a basement added. A beautiful structure with brick facing, it housed worship services for another 32 years.
In 1970, the present church building on East Sixth Street was completed. Dedication services were held on September 13, 1970. In 1977, a fellowship center was built, and in 1987 Sunrise Manor was completed. Sunrise Manor has apartments for senior citizens. It is also the site for HarvestCall projects and provides a kitchen facility for Meals on Wheels.
The congregation's first local Elder was Bro. Rudolph Witzig, who came to Gridley in 1883. He had been selected as a minister in Switzerland at age 24, and ordained an Elder at 26. He served until his death in 1912. From 1912 to 1947, Elders from Roanoke had the oversight of the Gridley congregation.
Bro. Joe M. Klopfenstein was ordained Elder in 1947, and served until his untimely death in 1965. He died while scooping snow soon after returning from an Arizona vacation. Bro. George M. Gramm (who served two years as Co-Elder with Joe M. Klopfenstein) was ordained in 1963 and served until 1972.
Bro. Edwin Ringger was ordained as Elder in 1972 and served until 1994 when his son, Bro. Earl Ringger assumed the mantle of Gridley's leadership. In 2016, Bro. Harvey Kaeb was elected to serve as elder.
Ministers are chosen from the congregation, and this has been the tradition since the church’s founding in 1870. This is also true in the denomination's other congregations. The church usually has had four or five ministers serving at one time.
Serving the Gridley church as ministers from 1870 to present were Brothers Joel Herman, John Speiss, Rudolph Witzig, Adam Messer, Michael Kiefer, George Funk, Jacob Ringger, Engelbert Grusy, John Schlipf, John Schieler, Leo Grusy, Joe M. Klopfenstein, George M. Gramm, Guy Miller, Elmer Witzig, Edwin Ringger, Harold Schmidtgall, Byron Stoller, Earl Ringger, Stephen Baner, Clark Stoller, David Zehr, Daren Metz, Harvey Kaeb, Arlan Miller, Todd Witzig, and Richard Martin.
The local Gridley church has integrated closely with the other Apostolic Christian Churches, and a deep sense of brotherhood has prevailed with brethren across America. It has been a special and treasured experience to fellowship with believers of like mind and faith in more than 90 congregations in 26 states, and in Canada, Mexico and Japan.
Note: More detailed historical information can be obtained from the church's national history entitled Marching To Zion (pages 224 to 231, Second Edition). This book is available at the Gridley Public Library, at Apostolic Christian Publishing, Goodfield, Illinois, or by calling 309-747-2803 in Gridley. Also, information can be found in Foundation’s Strong, the history of Gridley, Illinois (pages 213 to 216). Call 309-747-2803 in Gridley to review these pages, or visit the Gridley Public Library.