Calvary United Methodist Church History
It was on June 4th, 1911 that several persons of the area called "The Hump" first met under a large Maple Tree at the corner of Lusher Ave. and 21st Street and started a Sunday School Class. As the weeks went by they moved to a porch, then to an apartment building, The Lusher Flats, on Larue Street. Then,
when the Hump School was built on 21st Street across from St. Vincent's Cemetery, they moved into the school.
The Quakers, the Evangelicals and the Methodist Episcopal all at one time or another lent support to the work, but it was the Methodist Protestants, under Rev. Fred Clarke of the Division Street Church (now Grace United Methodist Church) and Rev. Samuel Heminger, who spent long hours calling on the
homes of the Hump area, who were responsible for organizing the Hump area Sunday School Class later to be the Calvary Church.
The inspiration came in 1919 when Rev. Fred Clarke had consented to hold revival services in the Hump School. The Spirit of God moved and after a month of meetings and 52 conversions to Christ the Christian people of the Hump took the name Calvary Church, asked Fred Clarke to be their pastor and
made plans for a building of their own.
After several years of praying, working, and tithing, a combination parsonage - chapel was erected at the cost of $6500 on the northeast corner of Nappanee St. and Indiana Ave. The Dedication was held March 9 1924. Membership rolls included family names such as Grauer, Helvie, Parcell, Lechlitner, Toben, Fore, Noffsinger, Hamilton, Shigley, Martin, Thompson, Zollinger, Ullery, Squibb, Jackson, Newcomer, Cross, Herrle, Jones, Thornton, and perhaps a few more.
Rev. John Coons (1922) and Rev. Nathaniel Vice (1923-26) were pastors in those early years. Both were self taught God called men who served God well. The average Sunday School attendance in 1925 was 56. Rev. Otis Jones, a locally converted barber, served Calvary from 1926-31. Rev. Gerald Skidmore served Calvary from 1931-35. The 30's were difficult times for the church. Men were sometimes paid in groceries not wages making it difficult for church finances. In 1935 16 tithers were counted in the Church. The average Sunday School attendance was 84. Rev. W. R. Schmelzer served Calvary from 1935-40. In 1939, Calvary Methodist Protestant Church became Calvary Methodist Church, when three denominations, The Methodist Episcopal Church North, The Methodist Episcopal Church South, and The Methodist Protestant Church united. The President of the Indiana Conference of the Methodist Protestant Church at the time of the merger was the the same Fred Clarke who was instrumental in founding Calvary.
At this time pastors were appointed on a part-time basis while attending Garrett Biblical Institute. The first of these was Rev. Robert Yunker (1940-42), followed by Rev. M.C. Morrow (1942), and then Rev. Wayne Mitchell (1943,45). The Sunday School attendance in 1945 was 91. During this time Calvary became completely self supporting. The congregation was outgrowing the 30 x 30 chapel and plans to build were considered. But because of World War II building had to be postponed.
In 1945, B. R. Collins was appointed and served 3 months. Rev. E. S. Morford served the remainder of the year until 1946. Rev. Orrin Manifold (1946-49) was the next pastor. One Sunday he gave a sermon from Matthew 25:14-29. It inspired a project that came to national attention. On a Sunday in April
1947, 5 & 10 dollar bills were handed out to the congregation. Each person was to try his hand at investing his talent. Making jam, raising chickens, and selling various items were among the projects chosen. But none of the participants is likely to forget “The Manifold Potatoes”. Newsweek Magazine wrote of the potatoes and Lowell Thomas told of their success to a nation wide radio audience. The potatoes ranged from marble size to ping-pong size. Rev. Manifold couldn’t sell the as potatoes so he joined them together with toothpicks and formed animals and caricatures of people. He had a booth at the annual bazaar and did make a profit of $3.07. The total amount earned by the “Talents” projects was $1300.
The Boss property, at 2215 W. Indiana Ave., was purchased to be used as a parsonage and Sunday School rooms.
Rev. Ross Richey (1949-54) was pastor at the time of ground breaking, April 8, 1951, for the remodeling and addition to the existing building. The remodeling was a do it yourself project and there were many “work nights” for the men of the congregation. Piles of lumber and blocks and a wood stove decorated the
sanctuary that winter. One Sunday during worship, Don Maxwell, got up on a ladder in the middle of the service to remove a “C clamp” swinging from the rafters. The Consecration of the finished building was held on Dec. 7, 1952. Because work was done by men of the church, the total cash outlay for the renovation was only $31,000. A new Baldwin organ was also added to the church at the time. The Calvary family had lots of fun while they worked to help their church grow. Some may remember the champion soft ball teams. There was also fun in 1950 when the Win-a-Couple Class formed a traveling theatre group.
In 1954-56, Rev. E. J. Arthur became pastor at Calvary. He and his wife lived in the Bass property. During this time Sunday School attendance averaged 137 and average attendance at worship was 151.
In May of 1956 the mortgage burning was event in which all were grateful to participate.
Rev. Roger Lautzenhiser came to Calvary from 1956-1963. Again there was a need for a building, this time a parsonage. Under the direction of Dutch Johnson and his father the men of the church built a red brick home at 2300 West Indiana Avenue. Various projects were undertaken at this time to help pay for the new parsonage such as: making and selling rugs, crazy hat style show, making and selling Amish cookies, going to Canada to catch 200 lbs. of smelt, cleaning them and having smelt suppers.
Under Rev. Lautzenhiser, the congregation grew. It became necessary to hold two worship services with Sunday School in the hour between.
Property was acquired from Indiana Ave. North to Pennsylvania St. and from Nappanee St. East to Laramie St. Plans were started for construction of a new building at 2222 W. Indiana Ave. at the approximate cost of $250,000.
Rev. Dwight Conrad was pastor from 1963-66. It was during this time that the present structure was completed. One of the outstanding features of the present building is the cross, made by Shafic and Kamal Sava, carpenters of the Nazareth. The 6’ x 17’ cross was made from small pieces of olive wood framed in European Ash. Arrangements for obtaining the cross were made by Mr. Cleo Carithers and his friend and counsel, in Hiafea, Mr. Howard Backus. December 23, 1963, the new church was consecrated by Bishop Richard C. Raines. At this time, one of Calvary’s own, Loretta Gruver, was commissioned as a missionary nurse to Ganta Mission, Liberia, West Africa.
In October of 1963, a group of women from the Susannah Wesley Circle decided to ask permission of the Official Board to allow them to start a Resale Shop, with the sole purpose of helping pay off the debt of the new building. In January of 1964, a Resale Shop was started in the old vacant church building. After of operation, in 1965, the women were able to pay $1,500 toward the pews in the new church. In May of 1966 the Resale Shop was moved to 338 Elkhart Ave. in one large U Haul truck and the help of many strong people. Rev. Riley Case was pastor from 1967-72. During this time the church had a very active youth group and from this the “Young Believers” singing group was formed. Also, at this time on April 13, 1971, our Calvary United Methodist Nursery School was started which is another valuable service to the
Rev. James Copeland was pastor 1972-76. During this time the Win-A-Couple Class decided to landscape around our church property. Many of the trees around the church were planted at this time as memorials.
In 1976, Rev. Clyde Trumbauer came to Calvary.
After many years of sacrifice and dedication from all the people of Calvary, on Oct. 21, 1977, the ladies of the Resale Shop were given the honor of making the final payment of the mortgage of our church. The original mortgage was for $180,000 and the ladies of the Resale Shop paid a total of $55,553.33 on this
With much to do in the future we are looking forward to much growth spiritually and in outreach to others.