Keene Seventh-Day Adventist Church’s History
On January 6, 1894 sixty-seven people met on a wooded hill between Alvarado and Cleburne and signed their names as charter members of the Keene Seventh-day Adventist Church. For more than ten years these early members met for services on the campus of the newly-founded Keene Industrial Academy. In 1905 they moved into a meeting hall that they had constructed several blocks southeast of the academy.
Their first church was built to accommodate 300 to 400 people, but as people came to the area looking for Christian Education for their children, the church building had to be enlarged. Several times the congregation embarked on remodel/expansion projects to manage the growth that was experienced over the first fifty years or so. During this time, the church was largely used as a training facility for students being prepared to pastor other churches when they finished their studies. The Bible teachers for the college supervised these students and offered additional ministry support to the members.
The foundation for our current church facility was poured in 1956 as church membership topped 1,000. Over the years the church has been enlarged to provide additional space for classrooms with the addition of the Sabbath School Complex and Chapel. The Youth Center/Church Office Complex was completed in early 2003 rounding out our current church facility.
A Church School, now known as Keene Adventist Elementary School was begun to provide education for the younger children. And when Southwestern Union College was officially recognized as a senior college in 1967, the Keene Church was asked to assume responsibility for the academy. In 1975 Chisholm Trail Academy moved into its present facility. With the growth of the schools, the church continued to increase in membership as well.
During its 125 year history, the Keene Church has grown from those first daring and excited sixty-seven charter members to now serve as the church home for more than 2900. In addition to our current members, over the years a large number of former members have moved to other communities to help plant and grow more than 10 new congregations in Johnson County. We continue to pray that God will expand His kingdom in this community, as well as in our hearts, as we work and wait for the promised return of Jesus.