McCORDSVILLE – It’s been a long and winding journey for the church begun on a farm in 1866. The path has included two name changes, four moves, and a new town and even county. The songs sung and the order of events in a Sunday service have changed, too.
But the church those 144 people came together to start in the 19th century remains and even flourishes in the 21st, with a congregation that’s grown more than sixfold over the past 150 years.
“It’s no small act of God,” senior minister Rob McCord said of reaching the milestone. From what he’s seen, and from what he’s learned from those who’ve been there longer, the church has just consistently been a church that is all about the Gospel and all about reaching the area — never going too long, (or) getting too buried in tradition to the point that it would stifle the mission.”
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Tom Mock is a descendant of one of the church’s founding families. His father, Edgar Mock, lived to be 98; he was church treasurer for 69 years and sang in the choir until he could no longer climb the steps to the choir loft.
Not surprisingly, Tom Mock has been part of the church from childhood, joining it in the 1940s at age 10, when it was Oaklandon Christian Church. He began serving in the church as an usher during his teen years. In the decades that followed, he served in many different roles, among them coordinating a pastoral care ministry in which volunteers visited members in the hospital or rehab facilities.
He was away for about 20 years, moving because of his job, but he and his wife returned in the late 1980s and resumed their service at the church, leading a Bible study in their home for more than 17 years. Now they are greeters on Sunday mornings.
His wife, Carmen, has also worn many hats through the years, from teaching Sunday school and vacation Bible school as a young mother to being involved in women’s organizations and the church choir. These days the hat she wears is a red one, as she is part of a Red Hat Society chapter that meets at the church.
Carmen Mock also has been part of the church since childhood and remembers dedicated people who’ve been part of the church’s long history and helped create an atmosphere that feels like family to her. Among them were Cecil and Lily Mae Apple, who sponsored the youth group when she was growing up.
“They made a real effort to make each kid feel welcome and special,” she said.
The Mocks said there are many dedicated people at the church who volunteer faithfully and keep its many ministries and its mission giving going, with a common mission and purpose that they say has characterized the church throughout its history.
Tom Mock credits the ministers who have served the church, saying they were committed to the Bible and lived lives consistent with the sermons they preached. “The church experienced growth because of it,” he said.
He also points to the vision of the founders and the generations who followed — generations who were not afraid to build or even move if they felt they needed more space to make others welcome.
“The people that met on that farm 150 years ago, every time they made a move … it was a risk, but it was a dedicated risk,” Tom Mock said. “Every time they expanded … it worked because people were dedicated.”
Amid the many changes, then, those at the church see in their history what has remained the same.
“I do see this consistent pattern of the mission of God being the highest priority,” McCord said.
1866 — Oakland Christian Church is established with 144 members.
1868 — A frame meeting house is built at what is now Church Street and Oaklandon Road
1869 — Children’s Sunday School is organized.
1880s — Oakland changes its name to Oaklandon, and the church changes its name, too.
1909 — The church builds a new structure across the street from the original site.
1948 — A three-story addition including classrooms for children and youth is completed.
1962 — The church buys seven acres for $17,000 at 6701 Oaklandon Road.
1965 — Ground is broken for a new church campus at the seven-acre site, to include a 400-seat sanctuary, 21 classrooms, offices and a 250-seat fellowship hall.
1966 — The first service in the new facility on June 12 draws 443 people.
1993 — The church breaks ground on a family life center; it was completed in 1994.
1998 — A long-range planning team recommends relocating. Around this time, the church renovates a former Oaklandon fire house into a student center two blocks from the church.
2007 — The church breaks ground on a 50-acre site on Mt. Comfort Road.
2009 — The church moves to McCordsville and, no longer in Oaklandon, changes its name to Outlook Christian Church.
2015 — Ground is broken in September on a 25,000-square-foot project that will expand space available for children and youth.
2016 — On May 1, Outlook Christian Church celebrates its 150th anniversary.
Sunday, Outlook Christian Church celebrates 150 years since those original members met and formed the church. Two of the church’s three surviving former pastors will be back for Sunday morning’s services at 9, 10:15 and 11:30 a.m. At 7 p.m., a worship concert will celebrate the milestone, followed by cake and ice cream.
The congregation will receive copies of a devotional based on Psalms, a Bible book of 150 chapters. Staff of the church have written an entry to go with each Psalm.
Senior minister Rob McCord said other elements of the celebration will come later in the year, such as an open house for the 25,000-square-foot addition that expands space for youth and children’s programs.