First Christian Church was founded in Madison, in 1836, a member of the Stone-Campbell Movement in the newly opened Northwest Territories. It is thought that the congregation moved from home worship to the basement of a downtown school until its first building was acquired on Walnut Street. The congregation moved to its present location with the completion of the Greek Revival-style building on Main Street during the Civil War in 1864.
The congregation has survived not one, but two disastrous fires, one in 1899, and the more recent Christmas Eve fire of 1989. In each fire, only the exterior walls of the structure remained. Music and the arts have played a large role in the church’s life. A Moeller pipe organ was added to the sanctuary in 1909. During the 1990 renovation, the St. Joseph, Missouri Temple Organ Company was commission and the pipe organ replaced. The sanctuary was also rotated so that it is broad and shallow rather than long and narrow. The curved pews embrace the central communion table and welcome all to worship.
Perhaps the church’s most notable feature is the beautiful stained glass windows in the sanctuary created by Stephen Purdy, a window designer with The Fox Studios of Indianapolis. The windows were made in the Art Nouveau Style of Louis Comfort Tiffany. Characteristics include the use of opalescent glass, intricate leading and organic copper foil work, acid-etching, and using several layers of glass. The east windows feature the four seasons and the twelve disciples all set in the Madison and Hanover area. A west window depicts John baptizing Jesus in Clifty Falls. By placing Jesus and the disciples in Southern Indiana, the Gospel stories move from antiquity into our present place and time. In the Gathering Room adjacent to the sanctuary are two history windows. One depicts the Stone Campbell Movement and the other shows the history of this congregation. The Main Street sanctuary windows are antique windows which were found in Lebanon, Ohio and believed to be circa 1890.