This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Going to church the United Methodist way

(I thought it would be interesting to use Sundays to focus on Rensselaer's churches and to see how many Sundays I can go before I run out of material. Indiana is richly endowed with religious denominations, with influences from North and South, East and West. This is part of that series of posts.)

Trinity United Methodist Church is located at Cullin and Angelica. The pastor is John Hostettler. Sunday services are at 8:30 and 10:30. The church has an excellent website at http://www.gbgm-umc.org/rensselaer-trinity/. If you click on the history link on the left, you will get not only a detailed history of the local church but a history of Methodism in the United States.
The Methodists were the best organizers of the early churches. In 1808 the Indiana district was organized with six circuits. In 1816, the same year Indiana became a state, the Western Conference was formed. No other church grew so rapidly and none was so popular. It literally grew up with the country. By the 1840's, Methodism had become the largest Protestant body in America with over a million members.

The local church is part of a larger denomination, the United Methodists. There have been Methodists for two centuries, since shortly after the death of John Wesley, but the United Methodist Church is fairly new:
On April 23, 1968, The United Methodist Church was created when Bishop Reuben H. Mueller, representing The Evangelical United Brethren Church, and Bishop Lloyd C. Wicke of The Methodist Church joined hands at the constituting General Conference in Dallas, Texas.
The beliefs are mainstream Protestant, and can be found here.
As mentioned above, the website has an excellent history (edited by Beulah Arnott, who knows more local history than anyone else). Here are a couple of tidbits about the buildings:
In 1887 during the time S.B. Grimes and E.G. Pelley served as pastors the brick church on Cullen and Angelica Streets was begun. In the Fall of 1889, T.F. Drake was assigned as pastor and served three years. The church building was finished and dedicated January 26, 1890 by Bishop S.M. Merrill. The building cost $7,000, the last payments being made in 1895.

In 1909 while Rev. C.L Harper was pastor, the church was extensively remodeled adding Sunday School rooms and the whole building made modern as well as enlarged.

While the Reverend Carl Bosse served from 1953 to 1956 building plans were made and a fund raising campaign was launched to add a Christian Education Building consisting of more Sunday School rooms, a chapel, a church office, a large fellowship hall and kitchen. The building was completed in 1958 under the leadership of Rev. H.L Adams. Bishop Richard C. Raines conducted the Consecration Service on April 27, 1958.
The religious maps at Valparaiso University show that Methodism is strongest in an arc from the northern Appalachians to the plains of Nebraska and Kansas. It does not seem to have traveled well to the West Coast. Here is the Wikipedia entry.

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