Fishers United Methodist History

Rev. D.D. Powell and fourteen members organized the Fishers United Methodist Episcopal Church in 1874. The first trustees were T.A. Fisher, William McKinstray and Benjamin Castetter. This congregation met at the schoolhouse until 1875 when the Union Church building was erected. It was located on the road running East and West through Fishers (116th Street, as it is known today), and was located on the property immediately East of the Reformed Church of America. The Masonic Order used the upper story for a lodge room.

The same pastor served two other churches, New Britton Methodist Episcopal and Fall Creek’s Zion Methodist. Both were older churches than the Fishers United Methodist Episcopal Church. New Britton church was organized in 1852 and reorganized in 1868. This congregation conducted their services in the Baptist Church building. In 1858 Rev. Metzker organized the Zion church at the Morgan schoolhouse. In 1860 a frame building was erected in section 33 for the accommodation of this society, which, in 1862, had a hundred members. By the year 1880, however, due to deaths and removals, this congregation had decreased to only thirty-eight members.

The pioneers of Fall Creek Township were, as a rule, a church-going people. Itinerate preachers came in the early days and preached to people in their homes first and later in houses of worship. Among the first preachers visiting the neighborhood was Nathaniel Barnes, a Methodist.

The Rev. Beal succeeded the Rev. Powell in 1877, followed by Rev. I. J. Rhodes, followed by the Rev. R. B. Powell in 1879. Their successors were the Rev. Carpenter and Rev. Curry (known and spoken as affectionately as “Dad Curry”). His pastorate was terminated shortly by his appointment to serve as Chaplain at the State Reformatory.

Soon after the turn of the century, the people of Fishers United Methodist Episcopal Church had a vision for a new building, which was realized when the ground on which the new church was to be built was given by Mrs. Addie Kepner. Rough lumber for the building was given by Mrs. Tyne Eller and was sawed from trees that had fallen on her land. The contract was awarded to O.N. Applegate of Mattsville. The new structure (32’ X 50’, with a Sunday School room 14’ X 32’) was erected on what is now known as South Lantern Road. The building still stands today on the West side of the road opposite of Fishers Elementary School building and is now home for the people of The Christian Life Center. The original building was heated by furnace, had an elevated floor, and was built at a cost of $3,100. The congregation had accumulated $1,800 cash for the building, but an additional $1,410 was raised by donations and pledges on the day of the dedication of the new building (February 26, 1905). The Rev. T.A. Graham was pastor at the time.

In a few years it became necessary to add two new classrooms and to enlarge the church basement. Several members of the church gave beautiful colored glass windows. The need arose, too, for a larger and modern parsonage, so ground was secured near the church and building was begun with O.M. Fisher and Ross Hunt as contractors. On Sunday, July 24, 1927, a dedication service was held in which the new Fishers, Zion and New Britton parsonage were dedicated by Dr. W. T. Arnold of Muncie.

In the year 1930, the New Britton Church closed her doors and their members joined with the Fishers United Methodist Episcopal Church people. In 1939 the Methodist Protestant, Methodist Episcopal South and Methodist Episcopal churches united, and Fishers United Methodist Episcopal Church became the Fishers Methodist Church.

In May of 1947 Zion Chapel was closed and their members joined with the Fishers Methodist Church congregation. Two years later a church redecoration program, under the new leadership of Rev. Garry Browne, provided new plaster, a new sanctuary floor, new carpets, new chandeliers, new paint and a new gas furnace.

In 1951 an organ fund was started with generous contributions from interested members and friends of the church. In less than a year a Wurlitzer electric organ was installed. Chimes were added to the organ in 1953, and an adult choir was organized and directed by Mr. Arthur Gentleman. Mr. and Mrs. R.E. Harold presented choir robes to the church in 1954.

In 1956 the Trittipo lot adjoining the church grounds was purchased while the Rev. Damon K. Finch was pastor. In November of that same year a financial campaign was begun that produced pledges of $40,000 over three years for the purpose of building a sanctuary and educational unit. A Building Committee was appointed and an architect was engaged to draw up the plans for the larger facilities. Mr. Vernon Crickmore served as Chairman of that Building Committee. On November 8, 1961, the Church Official Board presented available locations for new church building sites.

Our present location, East of Interstate 69 on East 116th Street, was chosen, and Mr. and Mrs. A. W. Reynolds, Sr., gave the church two and one-half acres of ground for the new church building. The congregation purchased an additional two acres to provide for ample parking space.

The cornerstone of the first unit was laid on October 21, 1962. The first service in the new church was held on Sunday, December 23, 1962. The Day of Consecration was held on February 17, 1963, with Bishop Richard Raines as honored guest.

In June 1965, the church received a gift of $10,000 from Mr. R. E. Harold to be used for a new parsonage. Mr. and Mrs. A. W. Reynolds, Sr., donated a lot in the Springdale Addition for the new parsonage. Sowers Construction Company was engaged to build the new structure for $22,500, and, on June 5, 1966, the Rev. and Mrs. Walter Meacham were able to hold open house in the new parsonage.

On December 5, 1966, the congregation voted to extend their educational facilities. Hubert and Ralph Erney were engaged to provide plans and to construct the new unit. Many lay people helped in the completion of the unit, which was put to use by the congregation for the first time on the first Sunday in December, 1967.

On October 14, 1979, the church broke ground for the third unit of construction, which included additional classroom space, a new fellowship hall, an extended sanctuary, and remodeling and refurbishing of some of the previous buildings. On March 15, 1980 the congregation used the expanded sanctuary for the first time, and other areas of the new building were used as they were completed. The final meeting of the Building Committee (chaired by Mr. Vernon Crickmore) took place July 29, 1980, ending more than 1,600 hours in planning and supervision by this group. District Superintendent Harold W. Criswell consecrated the new building on Sunday, January 18, 1981.

Rev. Nelson Chamberlain was pastor until June 1985, when Rev. Ray Lynn was appointed to Fishers United Methodist Church. In 1983 a nursery school and preschool was started. Membership at the end of the year was 751. In June 1988 Rev. Tom Kuhn was assigned to the church and Rev. Jackie Chandler was assigned as Associate Minister.

In 1988 and 1989 committees were formed for recommendations for future growth plans. In 1990 plans for new construction began for a 600-seat sanctuary with narthex, parlor, coatroom, restrooms, choir room, mechanical areas and renovation of existing educational wing, with construction beginning in 1991. Total membership was 693. Last service held in the old sanctuary was June 21, 1992, with service in the new sanctuary June 28, 1992. Membership at the end of 1992 was 708.

Pastors in 1994 were Rev. Dick Clark and Rev. Nancy Stimson, Associate Pastor. Proposal was presented for remodeling part of Fellowship Hall to create a youth area. Membership was 781. In 1996 Rev. Dick Clark died suddenly. Rev. Dr. Robert Bickel served as interim Senior Pastor from April to June, when Rev. Michael Reed was appointed to Fishers United Methodist Church, with Rev. Nancy Stimson continuing as Associate Pastor. Renovation on Fellowship Hall and the East education classrooms started in September 1996, with completion of Fellowship Hall, youth rooms and new East education wing in December 1996.

In 1997 Fishers United Methodist Church began participation in Interfaith Hospitality Network, a homeless outreach program. The preschool program now serves 230 families with 287 children enrolled. In June 2000 Rev. Marianne Hawkins was assigned as Associate Pastor, with Rev. Michael Reed continuing as Senior Pastor.

Once again, new proposals were given for future growth of Fishers United Methodist Church, including plans for a gym, family life center, and more classroom space. In the year 2000 the Building Committee initiated “Love Builds, Remodel Rendezvous,” where “Construction Superintendents” hosted Remodel Rendezvous in the homes of members to share information about the building project. At the completion of Phase One of the building project, 10 new classrooms above Fellowship Hall were dedicated on August 19, 2001.

In 2002, Rev. Pam Cook came to us as Associate Pastor. At the end of that year, we began work on our Family Life Center. We celebrated our annual Thanksgiving Dinner in the Family Life Center for the first time in November 2003, with over 400 people present. This facility continues to provide space for classes and groups, as well as, for children, youth, and adult activities including our UPWARD Basketball program.

In July 2007, Rev. Aaron Hobbs was appointed as Associate Pastor. This year we also purchased the Lion’s Club building for use as our new Fellowship Hall. In October, we expanded our outreach ministry by opening the “Come to Me” Food Pantry in the Fellowship Hall basement. 

In July, 2011 we welcomed Rev. Kevin McKinney and Rev. Josh Ditmer who were appointed Senior Pastor and Associate Pastor respectively when Rev. Michael Reed retired and Rev. Aaron Hobbs was reassigned.   

In July, 2016 we welcomed Rev. Jared Kendall who was appointed to Associate Pastor when Rev. Josh Ditmer was reassigned.

In July, 2019 we welcomed our current Associate Pastor Dr. Rev. Ben Greenbaum who was appointed when Rev. Jared Kendall was reassigned.  

And finally, in July 2020 we welcomed our current Senior Pastor Rev. Mark Ellcessor who was appointed When Rev. Kevin McKinney retired.

As we continue to look to the future, we pray that we remain faithful to God’s direction as we serve in ministry in Fishers, Indiana.