“We have many fellowship opportunities for our congregation and as an outreach to the community. Wonderful Wednesdays happen during the school year and offer a free meal at 5:00 followed by activities, discussions, and Bible studies for all ages, children through adults.”
Parents Night Out
Youth Mission Trips
History of the La Porte First United Methodist Church
The first settlers, who were God fearing people, eager for religious service, met in people’s homes. In La Porte and St. Joseph Counties there is evidence of Methodist missionary work in the years of 1829 – 1830. The missionaries were Erastus Felton and Leonard B. Gurley. Their work was centered in Michigan, just above state line.
In 1831 a local Methodist preacher named Jeremiah Sherwood, began work in the Westville area. More than likely this was the first Methodist mission work in the La Porte county. Pastor Jeremiah Sherwood would have been the first traveling pastor going to several different cities to work with small bible study groups meeting at small towns popping up across the Indiana wilderness.
In 1832, the U.S. Army, with James Armstrong as Chaplain, was sent to this area to guard the settlers against a threatened attack by the Sac Indians. This uprising, however, never materialized and after about a week, the army was withdrawn. Rev. Armstrong must have fallen in love with the natural beauty of Door Prairie, for he resigned his military post as chaplain, and brought his family to a cabin a few miles north
west of Door Village.
In the fall of 1832, the first session of the Methodist Indiana Conference was started; Rev. Armstrong was made the presiding Elder (now known as the superintendent) of the Northern District. The states included in this district extended from Ohio to Illinois and from Lafayette to Kalamazoo, Michigan. Presiding elders such as Rev. Armstrong, rode a horse from city to city and were called Circuit Rider Preachers. These brave men rode through the wilderness, where they conducted worship services, which included the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, once each quarter in every church in this large geographic district. Circuit riding preachers lived off the land as well as the generosity of those they ministered to. The many miles they traveled and the number of sermons they preached each day are amazing.
In 1836, George M. Boyd was appointed to the La Porte Circuit and began a long period of labor which endeared him to the community. Under his vigorous ministry a neat little brick church was built in 1836 on the northwest corner of Jefferson Avenue and Monroe Street. This was the first church built in La Porte.
It was not long before the growing congregation outgrew this small church building and built a larger church in 1850, on 811 Monroe Avenue. The pastor at the time was Rev. J.L Smith and the builder was Joseph Linard. It should also be noted that the German Methodist Church joined with the Frist Methodist Church in 1919. The Monroe street church facility was used until 1928, when 700 members of the Methodist church marched to the new church location on the corner of Michigan and Alexander street. The new church started to be built in 1927. Mr. George Allen was the designer and architect for the new church and Larson-Daniels were the builders. It is of Gothic architecture made from buff-colored Bedford stone at a cost of about $350,000.00. The Rose Window in the sanctuary was given by the Allen family. The colored pieces of glass came from Germany. The stain glass windows in the current chapel were brought over from the old church on Monroe avenue.
An interesting note: in 1895, the La Porte United Methodist Church started a ministry to deaf-mutes. The mission led a church school and worship services for 36 years. The church has supported missionaries from nearly all corners of the world.
For 186 years the La Porte United Methodist Church has moved to three different locations, changed names twice from Methodist Episcopal to United Methodist in 1968, and has provided outstanding spiritual leadership in the La Porte community. Since 1836 and leading up to today, there have been an estimated 90 pastors serving the La Porte UMC. Its influence has reached the around the world. Looking ahead, we know that the past is only a prologue for the future, and accept the challenge to make disciples for Jesus Christ, believing that God will guide our tomorrows as the Lord has guided our past.