Keizer Christian’s roots in city grow deep

Keizer Christian Church, a Protestant denomination, has its foundation in the Stone-Campbell movement of the early 19th Century.

Keizer Christian Church congregants believe in what Rev. Erik Free called the “core elements of Christianity.” 

They include tenets such as: Jesus as the Son of God, who came to save the world, God as divine creator of the world, a mission to spread the Gospel and the practice of baptism and holy communion.

“Even amongst our churches you won’t find the same answer to any given question,” Free said.

Free has been the pastor of Keizer Christian Church for three years.

The only requirement to becoming a member is a profession of faith – there is no statement to sign.

Keizer Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is a Protestant denomination of Christianity. The denomination came into being through the Stone-Campbell movement, a Christian movement in the early 19th Century that wanted to unify all the churches and model them after the church in the New Testament. 

The name, Stone-Campbell, came from the leaders of two separate groups that had similar ideologies about how the church was supposed to look. Barton Stone lead a group called, “Christians,” based in Kentucky. In western Pennsylvania and Virginia, Thomas and Alexander Campbell were starting a group called, “Disciples of Christ.”

They believed that creeds (formal statements of Christian belief) kept the church separated and, as a result, Keizer Christian Church has no doctrinal statement. 

“We avoid strict adherence to historical doctrinal statements as a requirement for membership, asking only for agreement to a general statement of faith meant to reflect common Christian belief,” Free said.

The church has no set beliefs on theologically debated topics that are not considered core elements. Despite the difference in opinions on certain topics, Free said the church is “committed to being church together,” and it welcomes and encourages questions. 

“We are an outward focused worshiping community – our time together on Sunday mornings is meant to fill us, equip us, and inspire us to serve God by serving God’s people, the people of our community, each day of the week,” Free said.

They operate under the Disciples of Christ denomination, but do not answer to a higher denominational power. Free said individual churches are responsible for themselves. He added Disciples of Christ are closely tied with the United Church of Christ.

Rev. Erik FreePastor of Keizer Christian Church

“All churches are self-described as welcoming,” he said, but he still describes Keizer Christian Church that way. “We expect people to come as you are.”

Free said there are a mix of worshippers in the congregation, “some people wear a sports coat, some people wear jeans and some people wear their favorite sports sweatshirt,” he said. “I tend to preach in a suit and I get teased for it,” he added.

Though the congregation is older, the music is a mix of traditional hymns and contemporary worship and a choir is a staple of the church.

“There’s something for everybody so nobody is happy all the time,” he said, smiling.

Keizer Christian Church has a long history in Keizer. They were planted here by Salem First Christian Church and were originally located on the plot that became Albertsons.

After selling the land to Albertsons they moved the original building to Wheatland Road, where the church is now. They split the building in half and added the sanctuary in the middle.

The congregation is one of the funding churches of the Keizer Community Food Bank and the Keizer Community Dinner. They host a “Fun in the Field” event in the summers which is a local event for the neighbors. 

“It is a neighborhood, carnival-type event with activity and game booths and food that we offer free to the community,” he said.

Keizer Christian Church is located at 6945 Wheatland Rd N. They meet weekly on Sunday’s from 10 to 11:30 a.m.; after the service there is a time of fellowship.