By Sue Peterson Blyth
Special to the Register
All are welcome to attend an open house at Kirksville Christian Church Sunday, Dec. 30, and celebrate the retirement of its pastor, the Rev. Don Graham.
The retirement service will begin at 11 a.m. and there will be live music from 2 to 4 p.m.
Kirksville is a sleepy village about halfway between Berea and Richmond. The church is located at the intersection of KY 595 and KY1295. There is not much left of the little crossroads town that was pretty roughed up in a tornado back in the 1940s.
Miraculously, Kirksville Christian Church survived that whirlwind and just barely escaped the E3 tornado that tore through Kirksville in 2009.
But the question for the congregation today is, can this old country church keep its doors open during the changing of the guard and transition to a new generation or will the whirlwind be too much for it?
Like many Kentucky country churches, Kirksville Christian has been around a long time — 184 years. It’s pastor, Don Graham, has been there a long time too — more than 50 years. As the church faces its pastor’s retirement, a lot of changes will need to happen if the next generation can continue to cross this historical threshold.
Recently, the church was saddened to learn that their pastor and his wife Francis would be retiring Dec. 30 and relocating to Illinois.
Don, as he is known by his congregation, has been a strong church pillar and is not easily shaken by the various political and religious winds. Rev Graham, formerly on the Berea College faculty and the campus coordinator of religious activities, participated actively and held leadership positions in many community organizations. Those included the Berea Chamber of Commerce, Patrons of Housing, Family Resource Center of Kirksville Elementary and Kentucky River Foothills, to name a few.
Don and his previous wife Nancy, who passed away in 2010, also owned and operated two shops in Berea near Boone Tavern for 39 years, a popular quilt shop and one promoting Appalachian Arts and Crafts.
Don closed the shops in early 2012 because of the economic downturn.
He will be sorely missed in Kirksville, Berea and all of Madison County.