History of our Church
History of the Logansport Church
Act 1: A Time of Beginning (1895-1905)
It was 1895 when Elder Allen Oberlin and his family left St. Louis, Missouri for Logansport, Indiana. Logansport was a new territory with much prospect in ministry. The railways and canal systems were bringing new people into the area. Logansport was a thriving community of potential converts and Elder Oberlin wanted to win these individuals to Jesus Christ. So when Elder Oberlin arrived in the new territory, he opened a Sunday school in Adamsboro; a community just minutes from Logansport. He rented some rooms in the Adamsboro Mill where he taught the word and preached to a small congregation on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. His work in Logansport and the surrounding communities gave Elder Allen Oberlin the title of father of the Logansport congregation.
As communities in the west grew, Elder Oberlin felt the call from God to move in this new direction. In 1900 the believer’s gathered and called on Elder A.G. Crosswhite, a German Baptist speaker, to come and preach a revival service at the Adamsboro Mill. During the revival, seven were baptized and a new enthusiasm to begin a church in Logansport was ignited. The District Mission Board, sanctioned by the Indiana district of the German Baptist Brethren Church, took charge and supported regular preaching and teaching in the fellowship. A.G Crosswhite believed that God wanted him to make Logansport his home base for evangelistic work, so he set up residence in the community. While here, A.G. Crosswhite offered his services to lead the fellowship. The congregation embraced the idea and continued the work of the Lord in Logansport and the surrounding communities.
Act 2: A Time of Uniting (1906-1918)
The fellowship continued to grow in the early 1900’s, but in what direction was God calling this new fellowship? At the same time, a district meeting of the German Baptist Brethren Church’s was gathering to discuss a church plant in Logansport as well. The delegates appointed three Elders to organize a church in the growing city of Logansport, Indiana. Upon arriving in the area, they met with local leaders and found some members of the new fellowship that had been organized. It seemed that the two ideas fit together. The committee met formally with local members of the Logansport fellowship on November 16,The meeting was held in a rented Union Sunday School Hall on the north side of 1633 Michigan Avenue. The meeting was called to order by Elder A. G. Crosswhite with Elder Frank Fisher acting as secretary. After devotions, Elder Crosswhite informed the fellowship of the desire of the District to form a church in Logansport, Indiana. The thirty six members present voted unanimously to turn their fellowship into the First German Baptist Brethren Church in Logansport, Indiana.
The congregation moved the location of their Sunday school program from Adamsboro to the Union Sunday School Hall on 1633 Michigan Avenue, the place of the original meeting, to comply with the congregation meeting in Logansport. A few of the members of the fellowship in Adamsboro stayed to continue the work in that community. In 1913, the work at Adamsboro ended and the individuals returned to the Logansport congregation for teaching, fellowship, and worship. From 1906 until 1916, the founding father of the congregation, Elder Allen Oberlin, returned to the preaching role in the congregation. Being a German Baptist Brethren at heart, he instilled many of the core teachings in the denomination to the congregation. Adult baptism by emersion was central to the belief of the church. Participation in a full love feast with foot washing every year was practiced from 1906 to the present day. The core belief of gathering around the word was ground into the belief system of this new congregation. And simple living became a way of life for all. Elder Oberlin loved the word and wanted to instill it in the life of this congregation but not this congregation alone. Wanting to plant new congregations, Elder Oberlin would leave at times to start a new work and then return to refresh the Logansport Church. But in 1916 Brother Oberlin died thus ending act two in the life of the German Baptist Brethren Church of Logansport. His death wasn’t the end of the church; it was the beginning of a time of change.
Act 3: A Time of Change (1919-1940)
When Brother Oberlin died, a fund was set up through the Indiana Baptist Brethren District to build a new church. The Mid-Indiana conference agreed that a building was needed to further the work of the kingdom in Logansport. So from 1916 to 1919 the congregation began the work of planning and saving for a sanctuary and Sunday school hall. The task was completed in January and on July 6, 1919 Elder Sam Damm signed a contract for $6,977.50 to build a new facility at 17th and Market. On October 1, 1919 a dedication service was held to give the building to the work of the Lord.
A new location brought with it new opportunities. No longer was the congregation on the edge of town. Now the facility would be in the heart of the city. With the advent of the new building, James Hunter began a program to reach the youth of the city. Ninety children began attending midweek services designed to minister to youth. Several of those youth grew up to be active members of the Logansport Congregation. During this time, many changes took place in the life of the congregation. A piano was brought into a worship service in 1927 and played on the first Sunday by Blanch Long. In 1928, Pastor Homer Schrock began a men’s work in the community. In 1929, the congregation assumed full responsibility for all financial activates, no longer calling on the district for aid. And in 1930, Merle Stinebaugh, Pastor Walter’s wife, started the first choir. It was a wonderful time in the life of the church. Josie Hanna, a founding member of the congregation, passed away and left her home to the church as a parsonage. It was during this time that the name of the church was changed. A split had taken place with the German Baptist Brethren thus a decision had to be made as to which branch of the church it would join. The German Baptist Brethren Church of Logansport became known as the Logansport Church of the Brethren. The church was growing, hearts and lives were being changed, and the kingdom of God was alive and well in Logansport, Indiana.
Act 4: A Time of Status Quo (1940-1963)
During the years of the war, and immediately after, a time of stagnation took over in the life of the congregation. The congregation took a very strong peace stance during war times and that was not liked by many. Records show that during and just after the war attendance shifted from being a growing congregation to a declining congregation. Numbers in the 1930’s were approaching one hundred, but by the 1960’s numbers had fallen into the low sixties. Instead of new ministries beginning the status quo was held onto. “The same” replaced “the new” in a time of change in our world. Change was happening rapidly in society but not in the church.
Homer and Rosetta Fry became members during this time in the life of the church. They said, “A lot of part time pastors came in and out of the church during this season. They were good people, but had full time jobs outside of the church and that made it difficult for the church to have a vision and to grow.” It also seemed like there wasn’t a need to grow. “There was a good crowd each week” said Rosetta, “and we didn’t see a need to reach out into the community.” They became comfortable with just loving each other. While asking Rosetta about the important people in the life of the church during this season she responded, “On September 14, 1952 I became a member and was baptized in the basement baptistery. Some names we remember were Ray & Faye Martin; they were the first ones to greet us and make us feel at home in the church. Minnie & Vic Kitchel were deacons and showed us the love of Jesus.” One character that seems to have great importance on this act and moving the church on into the next was Jerry Holsinger. Rosetta Fry gives this story, “I remember when the district called us to accountability on tithing. Homer was still working at the paint store and we had two little boys. Money was tight. We remember thinking ‘Tithing, how could we ever do that?’ I remember an elderly gentleman, Jerry Holsinger, who witnessed to us. He had raised a large family of 10 children. It would have been during the depression when he stood up at the council meeting and said that after reading the scripture that talks about tithing he felt called to do just that and God always provided for him and his family. So we went home still thinking we could not tithe, but God called us to do that. And the Lord certainly has blessed us! I believed Jerry Holsinger helped many in the Logansport church family to become tithers.”
During this time of the status quo, a group of newcomers began thinking about bigger and better things for the church. Their work brought them to Logansport, and their service to the Logansport church will be remembered. Helen & Keith Ross, Paul & Evelyn Neher, Gene & Sue Arthur, were transferred into the community from another location and they lived here approximately 10 years. They were very active in the Church and started the people thinking about building a new facility in the late 50‘s and early 60‘s. Their vision of a new building was contagious and began moving the congregation into a new era. They saw into the future and believed that the opportunity would require a small move east.
Act 5: A Time of Excitement (1960-1971)
Pastor Horace Huse came to the church during a time of transition in the history of the congregation. He had a vision for the youth of Logansport. A piece of property was available next to the school system and Horace had foresight to purchase 10 acres of property was in front of the current Logansport High School. With the blessing of the congregation, and the vision that was inspired by those three families, the piece of property was purchased. As often happened in this church’s story, Horace was moved to a new congregation, but the vision remained with the people.
A new level of excitement about the church erupted when the building on 17th and market was sold. By 1967, the Grace Fellowship church, offered $35,000 dollars for the building on 17th and Market. The congregation voted and the sale was finalized. But the sale of the property didn’t mean that it was time to build. There was still a great amount of money that needed to be raised. It was 1969 when the congregation finally voted to build a new facility. Ground had been purchased by the school system but the School Corporation decided they wanted the location themselves. After much deliberation, a trade was approved and the ground next to the school was exchanged for the property in front of the school. That piece of ground is now where the church stands at 2405 Shadowlawn Drive.
With a vote to begin a building project came the need for raising funds. John Lozier had an idea that is still talked about today. He believed that the church needed to come together and work for this major project. His idea was to go to the apple orchards in the area, pick up apples and make cider out of them to sell to the community. The idea was a hit with the church and the community. Denice Townsend said, “For six years, the congregation saved and washed bottles, picked up apples, took them to the apple press, filled containers, and sold the product to raise money and pay off the debt. It brought the church together, making friends as well as raising funds for a needed project.”
While the church was raising funds and dreaming of a new facility, the Grace Fellowship Church allowed the Logansport Church of the Brethren to worship in the same location. So for two years, the congregations functioned under the same roof, sharing the same facility. But at the end of the allotted time, there was still not enough money to begin building on their piece of land. Doris Ulery said, “There was a concern about the future of the congregation and the amount of money needed to be raised. We couldn’t start building and have that kind of debt. We needed another option.” So the congregation made a decision to move into the YMCA for a season. That season stretched on for over two years and the Logansport Congregation worshiped in a facility that was not their own for nearly five years. Doris said that it was a challenging time in the church, the congregation even had to have choir practice in her home until the building was complete, but the challenge was one that led to a new facility.
August 30, 1970 was the beginning of a transition. The deacons of the congregation went to 2405 Shadowlawn Dr., pulled out their shovels, and took the first scoop of dirt out for the footing.
It was a day of ground breaking. Rosetta Fry said, “It was an exciting day with dreams of a new and better future.” The dream was completed nearly one year later.
On July 4, 1971 the Logansport Church of the Brethren stepped into their new and current home. Rosetta Fry said, “A big thanks went to Pastor Phil & Marlea Kessler who, for 8 years, took us through the building of a new facility. Also John Lozier as he was the head of the building committee, the treasurer, and the one who wrote many of the checks.” It had been hard work getting to this day. But it would all be worth it.
Act 6: A Time of Increase and Decline (1972-1996)
New buildings did not lead to new opportunities. While the building was complete, a huge debt was faced by the congregation. Bud Reed, a member of the Logansport Church of the Brethren since 1962, said, “For six years, the focus of the congregation was on building a new building; now the focus was on paying for it.” He said that the concern of the congregation was not on how to minister to the community, or how to reach individuals for Christ, it was how to raise enough money to make the payments on this new facility. So from July 4, 1971 to April 12, 1981 the focal point of the congregation was on paying for their dream. While the dream was good, it took away from the mission of the church.
It was a time of increase and decline. Numbers would go up for a season or for a pastorate and then recede to their previous place. The stagnation in mission and ministry eventually lead to decline. But that stagnation was not a sign that there were not good people present in the church. There were a number of major players in the Logansport church during act 5 and 6. Dorinda Stackhouse said, “Leon and Doris Ulery were a part of the team that envisioned the need for a church to be on one level. Their concern was for the elderly and a way to help them come into the church. Homer and Rosetta Fry were wonderful, loving people whose parents worked in the children’s home of Logansport. They brought many of the kids into Sunday school and church and gave much energy to the youth group. Howard and Marge McCoy where the head deacons and provided leadership to the congregation while Seth and Thelma Huddleston served on the board and worked with the Sunday school program.” Dorinda also mentioned a few others. Thelma Huddleston was the one that suggested a newsletter that could keep the congregation informed of current events. Bob and Donna Nelson served as deacons and leaders in trying to retire the church debt. Glenn and Phyllis Stroup, and Paul and Frances Ridenour were just a few of the individuals that were a part of the church and its life.
Jan Reed remembered that the 70’s and 80’s were plagued with new pastors, “It seems to me that every time we got a new pastor there were many changes for the congregation. Most of them were good.” But with the advent of new pastors, there was little continuity in the ministry of the church. Each pastor brought change but the change seemed to pass away with the onset of the new minister. Dave Sievers said that the change in pastors affected the passion that the church had in following its leaders. “Why should we begin a new ministry or program” Dave said, “The pastor would only be here a few years and when he left so did the ministry.” This attitude affected the thinking of the church for nearly three decades.
It was during this time that Joe Deitrick, one of the more influential pastors, came into the church. Joe was just out of seminary and full of ideas. He loved the denomination and spent much time and energy getting the church to focus on Denominational issues. He continued the ministry of adult baptism, love feast, and simple living that was set up by Brother Oberlin seventy five years earlier. Dorinda said, “Joe was 6 months older that I and I felt comfortable asking him questions concerning the beliefs and doctrine of the church. Before Joe, we were taught to believe what the preachers told us. Joe also taught us it is okay to worship without a white shirt and tie. We learned it was ok to worship with cowboy boots and a guitar.” During these days, drama and new music became a part of the worship service while holding to the central beliefs of the church. Joe and his wife were at the church much longer than most. Their six year stent in the congregation made an impression that is still heard today. But after Joe came a list of short term pastors that once again left the church without solid vision.
During these years, there was a declined in worship attendance. There are many reasons for this decline. Bud Reed believed that the decline has many facets. He said that there was the lack of focus on the world. There was much time spent on paying off the debt of the new building. There were individuals and personalities in the congregation who were more self-focused and not so much focused on the community. And maybe part of the decline could be placed upon pastors that only stayed for short periods of time. It is easy to point the blame in different directions, but the decline of Act 6 will lead to the renewal of Act Seven
Act 7: A Time of Renewal (1996- now )
In 1996 a revival service took place at the Logansport church. The congregation could not afford to bring in a big name speaker, so Sherry Vaught, an ordained preacher and the wife of their current pastor Terry Vaught spoke. Sherry talked to them about vision for the future. The message got Jan Reed thinking. Jan said, “Sherry asked us if we were who God wanted us to be. As we looked around at the 34 people present in the church at that time we wondered how this could be what God wanted for us.” It was just a few weeks later that the choir was asked to come forward and sing during a worship service. When the choir came to the choir loft they noticed that there was no one left in the pews to listen to them. All 17 participants in worship that day were in the choir. The church wanted to change but in the words of Jan Reed, “We had no idea how to move forward.” Jan was the board chair and decided to contact the district executives for some help. An idea was conceived that seemed out of the ordinary. Why not take two of the growing congregations in the districts and bring them in to help the third. They would take some members and funds from the Mexico Church of the Brethren and the Roann Church of the Brethren to help renew the Logansport congregation.
From the leadership team to the choir members, to special music, to outreach events, the other congregations came in to be the hands and feed of the church for two full years. Pastor’s Jeff Graham and Aaron Gross were called upon to preach and teach during this time of change; and it was a time of change. New Sunday school classes were started, music style changed, video illustrations began, children’s ministries, youth ministries, and kindness evangelism all became a part of this church’s life. We made a decision to reach out into the community. Our mission statement became, “Showing the Love of Jesus to our Community” and we did just that. From raking leaves, to free car washes, to oil changes for the elderly, to window washing, the church was about showing Jesus love to others. And that love was catchy. Not everyone in the congregation was excited about the changes that were happening around them. For the most part, the congregation embraced a new vision for ministry.
In the last ten years, the congregation has grown from 34 in worship to well over 200 on many Sundays in average worship attendance. We have baptized over 150 people and added over 200 new members. We now have a children’s church service, a midweek service for youth, two worship services on Sunday mornings, a radio ministry, and a small group ministry. Our outreach includes mission trips, missionaries in four countries; churches we have built in two countries and a seminary we purchased land for and helped build in India. In 2010 we planted a church in Wabash that is growing and ministering for Christ. Jeff Graham and his family we called to Haiti as missionaries and we raised up and sent three pastors to other churches to help them grow in Christ. We have completed three additions on the church, added a new parking lot, remodeled the sanctuary, Just expanded seating in the church and have plans for another addition when funds allow.
Much has changed in the last 11 years but one thing that has stayed the same is leadership. Pastor Aaron has had the privilege of being our pastor longer than any before. in 2016 he celebrated his eighteenth year with us. It seems that this continuity has been good for the church. The vision has been the same and the direction has been consistent. Pastor Mike came on staff and has currently served the church as the family life minister for over 12 years now. Our core values, mission statement, and vision for the future continue to guide this congregation into the future.
IN 2015, a group of 30 members gathered to think forward 10 years in the life of the church. We adopted LCB for a shorter version of our name and gave each of those letters a word. Live, Connect, Believe. We want to instruct people on how to live out their faith, connect them to God and to one another, and help them believe deeply in the word of God.
Our future is not certain but the one who holds it is. A blessed future requires keeping our eyes on Christ and not on ourselves; continuing with the core beliefs that we have developed; as well as listening to the direction of the Holy Spirit. It is certain that God will give us a future. One day that future will become part of the history of the Logansport Church.
Denominational Wesbite: http://www.brethren.org/