THE CHURCH OF CHRIST OF ROCKWALL
A wagon train of pioneers crossed the Red River into Texas in the dawning days of 1836. On their journey from Tennessee and Northern Alabama, they stopped and held worship services on Sunday and became known as "the church on wheels and horseback." Legend has it, that Davy Crockett traveled with them as far as Memphis, but left them after crossing the Mississippi River, impatient with the delays. Crockett had better things to do and raced off for Texas and his destiny at the Alamo.
Most of these adventurers were members of the Church of Christ. They were led by Dr. Mansil W. Matthews (1806-1891). Born in Kentucky, Matthews had ties to the Stone-Campbell religious movement. At that time, the names Christian Church and Churches of Christ were used interchangeably. This group assembled to worship in Texas for the first time on January 17, 1836.
Settling near Clarksville, in March of that year, Matthews was elected to serve as representative to the first Texas Congress. He joined the Texas army and served as surgeon during the Texas War for Independence. He enjoyed a long and illustrious career as physician, soldier, lawyer, legislator and gospel preacher.
In 1852, Terry Wade was digging a well near the western edge of the town site of Rockwall north of today's State Highway 66. Wade discovered an unusual wall-like formation from which the settlement got its name. Mansil Matthews moved his family to Rockwall the following year and established a church in his home in 1853. That date makes the Rockwall congregation one of the earliest churches of Christ in Texas.
Matthews left Rockwall in 1855 or 1856, leaving several family members buried here. He continued to preach until the Sunday before his death in 1891. Dr. Matthews is buried in Paradise Cemetery in Wise County, Texas. A permanent meeting place for the Rockwall church was erected on the southeast corner of Fannin and Washington Streets about 1860. The church steadily grew until a disagreement concerning the use of musical instruments in worship divided the congregation in 1895. The group opposed to the use of the instrument became known as the Rockwall Church of Christ which eventually moved to the northwest corner of Fannin and Washington Streets. The church worshipped at that location until 1979 when they moved to a new facility on Interstate 30.
The Lakeside Church of Christ formed in 1988 and eventually located on State Highway 66. For fourteen years both churches existed on separate sides of town. Early in 2002, talks between leaders of the two churches resulted in a merger into one congregation on October 6, 2002.
The new congregation became known as Rockwall Lakeside Church of Christ and celebrated its 150 year legacy of serving Rockwall on October 5, 2003. A citation was received on celebration Sunday. It read,
"I send greetings to the members of the Rockwall Lakeside Church of Christ as you celebrate your 150th anniversary. Faith plays an important role in the lives of many Americans, offering strength and guidance for the challenges of each new day. By encouraging the celebration of faith and sharing the message of God's love and boundless mercy, churches like yours put hope in people's hearts and a sense of purpose in their lives. This milestone provides an opportunity to reflect on your years of service and to rejoice in God's faithfulness to your congregation. In the days ahead, may your community continue to grow in faith and friendship. Laura joins me in sending our best wishes for a memorable celebration."
The proclamation was signed by George W. Bush, 43rd president of the United States of America.
The marriage of the two churches was led by James Hawk of Lakeside and Elmer Morgan of the Rockwall church. Hawk became Pulpit Minister and Morgan served selflessly as Associate Minister of the combined congregation.
After the merger of the Lakeside church with the old Rockwall church, we decided we wanted a new name to go with our new home. In anticipation of our move to the new worship facility located on FM 549, we began searching for just the right name.
Geographically, we were on the eastern edge of Rockwall. Geologically, we were on the highest ridge in Rockwall County. So, Eastridge was a logical choice.
Biblically, east of Jerusalem, across the Kidron valley, there is a two mile long ridge called the Mt. of Olives. It was on this ridge east of Jerusalem that the Glory of the Lord rested after departing the Temple. It is from this ridge that the Glory of the Lord returned to the Temple Many of the incidents in the life of Jesus took place on this ridge to the east of Jerusalem.
So you can see, the name Eastridge Church of Christ is well suited for our congregation.
Mansil W. Matthews and Grave Marker
December 29, 1806 - April 13, 1891 Wise County, Texas
The final resting place of M.W. Matthews is in Paradise, Texas. What a fitting place to be buried! Paradise is a very small town just 35 miles north of Ft. Worth, Texas. Take I-35W North toward Denton. Just a few miles north of the I-820 loop, you will bear off northeast on Hwy 81/287. Travel 15 miles and take the Bridgeport - Hwy. 114 Exit and turn left (west). Travel 15 miles toward Bridgeport, and you will come into the community of Paradise. You will see the town off to your left in the distance. However, continue traveling on Hwy 114 to a traffic light. It will be the crossroads of Hwy. 444. Continue on Hwy 114 through the traffic light and go about a block. A sign is posted showing the city cemetery to the left. Turn on that left (Honeysuckle Rd.) and go about a block and turn left on Pecan St. You will see the cemetery on your right. Enter the gate and proceed to the back of the cemetery and turn left. Follow the little dirt road to the southeast corner of the cemetery. When you bear back to your left again, stop the car, for you are at the site. The grave is enclosed with a short concrete curb, under a little tree.