Services first began in log cabin homes and were served by circuit riders. The church was officially organized by Isaac Stagg, in 1838. The first church building, completed in 1887, was built on an original plat lot given to the small twelve family congregation by Solon Robinson and William Clark. The structure was rebuilt after a fire and was given a brick edifice but, remained at that spot until 1957. At that time a new church was built where the congregation worships today. The pipe organ was purchased in 1910 with the financial help of Judge Elbert H. Gary. This organ was moved to the new church and has been enlarged and refurbished since the move.
Over seventy ministers have led the people as they increased to a membership of almost eight hundred. As the numbers increased so have the programs that serve the church and the world outside its doors.
There have always been Bible study groups and study trips have been taken to Germany, England, and the Holy Land. Vacation Bible School, attended by children of all faiths, has been held each year since the 1940s. Every year the church has confirmation classes that preteens attend to prepare them for membership in the church.
The United Methodist Women’s group of the church was first organized in 1890 as the Ladies Aid Society. They have continued under various names and have played a huge role in the success of the church. The Epworth League, a teen-age youth group, first met in 1894 and now meet under the name Amped. The women and the youth reach out to others in need by mission trips and numerous projects each year as well as participating in church outreach programs. Other organized church groups have included: Methodist Men, Over 50’s, Prayer Chain, Christian Caregivers, Moving On (for those who lost partners), COPS (for caregivers), Older Adult Ministry, Twenty Something Group, Stephan Ministry, Crafty Grannies, and Caring Cooks.
First United Methodists have a real heart for missions. Throughout their history they have always supported missionaries. Mission teams have traveled to New Mexico, South Dakota, Illinois, Oklahoma, Maine, Minnesota, Florida and Henderson Settlement in Kentucky. Also, they have gone to Africa, Guatemala, Roatan in Honduras, and Haiti. They presently are raising funds to help build a church in Roatan. In 1994 the congregation took in a refugee couple that was fleeing from Bosnia and helped them to resettle in the United States. Monetary aid has been given to an orphanage in Russia. In 2012 the children of the church sent prayers and snowflakes to the children of Sandy Hook.
For our community the church has participated in many outreach programs such as: Royal Family Kids’ Camp, Meals on Wheels, Blood Drives, St. Jude Home, Parish Nurses, Adopt a Family at Christmas, tutoring programs, and Adopt a Highway.
This church has always been a part of cooperative programs with other churches in Crown Point. Before any churches were built, various denominations worshiped together in the log county courthouse. There have been progressive dinners, combined services for Good Friday, Memorial Day, and Thanksgiving Day, and shared Vacation Bible Schools. In 1949, congregations of the St. John’s Evangelical Church and the Methodist Church combined for church services when the ministers went on vacation. The Presbyterian and Methodist Churches shared an organist for a short period of time in the early 1940’s. During the Korean War all the churches agreed to ring their bells at 7:00PM to remind the citizens to pray for peace. In 2011 a memorial was erected on our southwest corner to honor those who died on September 11, 2001.Community services were held and attended by many from the armed services, police and fire departments of surrounding communities and other citizens.
Walking Tour of Our Church
- Stained glass window behind the altar was designed by Esther Arnold of Ft. Wayne represents four gospels using evangelical symbols taken from books of Ezekiel and Revelation. Winged man is ST. Matthew, the winged lion is St. Mark, the winged ox is St. Luke, and the winged eagle is St. John.
- Wood and brick behind altar – oak & walnut – lines up and down represent ups and downs in life – openings in wood get larger as rise & represent life opening up as we get closer to God Wood does not go all across representing that God’s work is never finished. Wood is our reredos (wood “screen” behind altar) – many churches see curtain or solid wood behind altar.
- Altar – 7 ft long – most altars are 5 ft. or more & 39” h. x 24” w. Area where altar is called sanctuary (Portable kneeling rail is called a Litany Desk)
- Baptismal font – only item from old church in sanctuary – memorial for Capt. Wilford Brown died – WWII
- Steps – One step to chancel – 3 more in chancel – one more to altar (Symbolism – 1 = one God, 3 = Trinity, 5=Star at Christ’s birth and 5 wounds of Christ in crucifixion)
- Nave – seats approx. 300 and choir loft can seat another 25
- Side windows – two complete ones memorial to Avis and Joe Brown
- 10 Side Stained Inserts – Memorial to Theodore & Emma Fruehling
South side – in Old Testament
- Creation (world, God’s Hand)
- Noah’s Ark (rainbow)
- Moses (burning bush)
- Ten Commandments
North Side – New Testament
- Birth of Christ (manager)
- Be a servant (towel&basin)
- Crucifixion (crown of thorns)
- Resurrection (butterfly)
- Holy Spirit (dove)
- God with us (cross)
- Arches are 39’ high hanging lights have 3 rings and 4 crosses (3=trinity & 4=4 gospels)
10. Large cross behind altar 20”10” high and done in gold leaf
11. Plaque in back of nave on south wall – shows John Wesley – our founder – presented by Wesleyan Service Guild in 1960.
12. Stained glass in narthex – Represent 4 times in Christ’s life start SE see star (birth), SW Dove (baptism), NW Wheat and Grapes (communion), NE Fish and Cross (Christ send us into world) Stained glass put there to prevent people from walking into clear glass. At first tried live plants but later decided the stained glass would be better.
13. Old Church Pew – from old church at 238 S Main St rescued by Ed & Audrey Wilkenson – returned to Church as a memorial gift
Uses Picture of various church structures to tell history –
1834 – Crown Point Settlers arrived
1836 – 1st Methodist Class organized
1840 — Lot #40 given to church by Solon Robinson & William Clark after town plated At the same time land was given to the Presbyterian Church and they built soon after we completed the first frame building.
1845 – first building started on property – finished in 1847 (1st picture)
1860 – More substantial building constructed on site Needed larger building because of growth partly from very successful revivals in 1858 & 1859 by Rev. Greene.
1896 – Major construction around framework of structure of 1860 church enclosed sanctuary of church used from 1896-1957. In 1896 the veneered outside with brick, removed balcony, added new warm-air heating plant and replaced old pews with opera chairs. (insert picture had to be taken before 1938 because pictures taken in 1938 show no steeple)
1957 – Present structure built on land purchased from O. E. Peterson CEO of Lions who lived in w hat called Youche Mansion because it had originally been in Youche family.
1963- Added kitchen and fellowship hall
1978 – Built on Education and Administrative wing
Stained glass windows from old church – Stained glass windows given as memorials and one window given in memory of Timothy Ball (who was Baptist) because “Always interested in building up Christ’s Kingdom he was always glad to co-operate with his brethren in the other churches, both Protestant and Roman Catholic. His daughter often served as organist in our church. The memorial window is only a small expression of our appreciation of this brother in the work of the Master.” 100 yr old History book. The glass was remounted into its present frames through a gift made in memory of Bernice Baily in 1984.
Altar – from old church – 1896 – and altar clothes purchased by Katharine Swartz at a garage sale for $5 – $10 – unusual because reversible.
Fireplace mantle is from the Youche Mansion. It is made of Indiana Bedford limestone.
Organ – is the Alan Organ money donated in 1953 by Mrs. Fred Lisuis.
Ginkgo tree – of one of the oldest living species of trees – this one hit by lightning 3 times – this tree species is very immune to disease and insects. Leaves (fan shaped) turn bright yellow in fall and will shed all leaves within one day after the first freezing weather
Copper Beech – one of, if not oldest tree in CP. Insured for $17,000 during construction and has since been said to be listed on historical register. Due to deteriorated condition, it was cut down in 2006. A picture of it hangs in Memorial Hall. A slice of its trunk is on display as well.
Memorial of bell and cornerstone from the 1896 renovated church.
Meditation Garden was dedicated on June 24, 2007 after almost a year of planning, proposals, fund raising, and back breaking work by many. The garden is for all to visit and enjoy. In its very first summer of existence it was included on the Garden Walk in Crown Point.