FORTVILLE — It was snowing that Sunday evening, enough to make a person think twice about any trip taken.
A mid 1960s bank merger had brought Art Whitaker’s job to Hancock County. That would bring his home there, too, and also his house of worship.
He and his wife, Sara, were visiting churches in search of a new church home. That Sunday evening, they were trying to drive to a church of the same denomination as their previous church, but the snow was heavy, so they shortened their journey by stopping in at Fortville Church of the Nazarene.
That stop ended their search.
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“I was so spiritually blessed, and so was he,” Sara Whitaker said. “We both felt the Spirit. … Everything was just what we wanted. That was it. Our decision was made.”
More than 50 years later, the Whitakers can look back on their years of service at the church, as Sunday school teachers, board member, choir singer or some other role.
Sunday, the congregation will look back even further into history as it celebrates the 100th anniversary of the church.
The church came to be through a 1915 tent meeting in Fortville. After those meetings, services took place in Hudson’s Jewelry. By fall, the church had been organized and a pastor appointed.
The church’s first building went up the next year at the southwest corner of State Road 67 (Broadway Street) and Fortville Pike (Maple Street). That building expanded, and the
Fortville Church the Nazarene celebrates 100 years of ministry Sunday.
A 10 a.m. service will feature special guests, including Dr. Ron and the Rev. Susanne Blake and Dr. Lenny Wisehart, as well as the Celebration Singers and the FCN Praise Team and Band.
Dr. Blake serves as the district superintendent of the Indianapolis District Church of the Nazarene. Dr. Wisehart grew up in the Fortville Church of the Nazarene and is pastor of South Lake Church of the Nazarene in Crown Point.
A catered dinner at the Mt. Vernon High School cafeteria follows the morning service. Tickets for the meal are available from the church office at 317-485-6443.
A 2:30 p.m. service will feature a Homecoming Choir, “Voices from the Past,” and a challenge by Dr. Ron Blake.
• 1915: A tent meeting takes place in Fortville, and the church is born. Following the tent meeting, Hudson’s Jewelry is used for church services.
• Fall 1915: Fortville Church of the Nazarene is organized. The Rev. Preston Roberts is appointed pastor.
• 1916: Construction on the original church begins at the corner of State Road 67 and Fortville Pike. It’s dedicated Aug. 15. Later, a parsonage is built onto the church.
• 1948-49: A Sunday School annex is constructed.
• 1961: A new parsonage and new church building are built on West Garden Street.
• Late 1960s: Sheldon Garage, adjoining the church property, is purchased and renovated along with former Sunday School rooms. A new youth auditorium and primary department room join the two structures.
• 1972: 8.72 acres are purchased where the church sits today.
• 1976: A family center is built.
• June 1980: The congregation moves to a new sanctuary.
• September 2003: The Rev. Phil Edwards becomes the church’s 20th pastor.
• Oct. 4, 2015: The church celebrates its 100th anniversary