History of the Christian Church in Valparaiso

“The purpose of this congregation is to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in faithful response to God’s will and purpose as revealed through Jesus Christ and God’s continuing revelations in the world; to seek in all persons a faith and commitment to Jesus Christ; to serve the community of which it is a part; to bring the gospel message to bear upon society; to sustain and be sustained by the general and regional manifestations of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); to work cooperatively with Christians in other communities; to seek the oneness of the body of Christ; and in all ways to make known the love of God.”(ca. 1840s)

Elias Axe - 1st Elder
Lewis Comer - Spiritual Leader

In 1837, a Disciples preacher, Lewis Comer, began preaching in Morgan Township.  Elias and Jacob Axe hosted a meeting on June 22, 1837 in the home of Elias Axe at 106 Franklin Street to be united in faith.  They accepted as their discipline the doctrine of Jesus and his apostles. 

 

The group consisted of Jacob Axe, Elias Axe, James Purdy, Mrs. James Purdy, Mrs. Agnes Axe, William Jones, Belinda Jones, Caroline Russell, Mary Anne Baum, and G.W. Turner

The following year in 1838, G.W. Turner wrote again to the Millennial Harbinger to let the Christian Church in the wider world know that growth had been slower than hoped.  The congregation grew by only five persons to a meeting of 16 and because Brother L. Corwin needed to earn a living outside the church, weekly gatherings had not been possible.  The community still had hope, as Brother R. Viets of Ashtabula County, Ohio, had visited during the year and was looking to move to Valparaiso.  He appears to have had the gift of proclamation.

 

"In essentials, Unity; In non-essentials, Liberty; and in all things, Charity." 

19th century slogan of the Stone-Campbell movement.

The Second Great Awakening (1795-1835)

Barton Stone, a new Presbyterian minister, had just begun his pastorate at the Concord and Cane Ridge churches (Ky) when the nationwide revival movement entered Kentucky and Tennessee.  In the summer of 1801, the people of Kentucky had an emotionally intense interest in religion.  The revival at Cane Ridge drew as many as 35,000 people.

 

Ministers from Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, and other churches joined in the preaching. Hundreds were baptized. Meanwhile, the Presbyterian Synod of Kentucky opposed the revival movement. Rev. Stone and three other ministers withdrew from the Synod and formed their own union.  Still concerned about ideas of organizations that separated Christians, he ended his participation in the Presbytery, and his followers became simply “Christians” and their fellowship, the “Christian Church.”

 

7 Chicago Street
1874 - 1990

After a 13-week protracted meeting conducted by J.H.O. Smith, the church had grown by 210 members. With anticipated further growth and they began to plans for a new building.  On February 23, 1888, the Valparaiso Messenger reported that the congregation was discussing the need to enlarge the church building. On April 19, 1888, the church trustees determined that a new building with a capacity to seat 1,000 was needed.  

 

Architect Thomas of Chicago was hired May 24, 1888 to design a building within the following specifications:  capacity of 1,000, constructed of brick at the current location and at a cost of $12,000 to $15,000.  The hope was to have the building ready by November.   Plans were approved and available from the architect on July 5.   The new building was dedicated on December 16, 1888.