The Black Rock church of Christ has served the community of Black Rock for well over one hundred years. It is known that the church was meeting in private homes around the turn of the twentieth century. Some can remember when an old hotel near Bonita Spring, just west of town, was used as a meeting place. It is also believed that another hotel in town was used, either the commercial or the Cottage Hotel.
There was no preaching on a regular basis at that time, but preachers traveled around and preached at different locations. Brother Brooks Stell was one of those preachers. Being confined to a wheelchair, he traveled with his sister. It is said that brother Stell preached to the congregation at Black Rock and persuaded them that they needed to build a building and appoint elders. Some time, probably around 1920, a wood frame building was constructed on the Henry Kelley property at 5th and Elm Street. Brother Stell was said to have preached the first sermon in it. Brother Stell then encouraged Taylor Davis to study his Bible and prepare himself to preach the gospel. Brother Davis preached his first sermons at Black Rock and Portia. He also did a lot of the baptizing for brother Stell, who was crippled.
The late John K. Polk Rhodes, who was the father of country music legends Dusty and Speck Rhodes, was the songleader for the congregation and built the pulpit around 1926, which was used until a new building was erected in 1994. The building burned in 1937, but the pulpit and the pews, which were also handmade, were salvaged from the fire and were stored in the home of Samp and Nema Hill until a new building could be built. The church met in the schoolhouse during that time.
In March 1938, seven lots were purchased from Nellie B. Adams for $200. The auditorium of the present building was errected and the basement and back classrooms were added on in the 1940’s.
Some time after the building was completed, the communion table was donated by Laura Sturdivant. In 1952, new pews were purchased from Lynch Supply Co. in Fort Smith at $50.00 each. The old pews were then donated to the Powhatan congregation.
The present building being used was built in 1994 and is located a few blocks west of the old building at 1296 Elm Street. The late Ronnie Smith, an elder of the congregation and an experienced carpenter, supervised the work of the new building. Ronnie was assisted by Jeff Oldham, who later lost his life in a motorcycle accident. Another elder, Jim Inman and son Michael, who have a heating and air business, took care of the electrical work along with the heating and air work. Current preacher Steve Prestidge also assisted in the carpentry. Almost all of the able bodied men of the congregation helped in some way with the building, and many of the women pitched in and helped in any way they could. It was a congregational effort that culminated in a comfortable, highly functional building which was paid for in full by this small number of Christians in ten years.
The congregation is made up of about sixty members today.