Church History

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Over 100 years ago, in 1888, Mt. Comfort United Methodist Church was established in its present location, although the roots of the church began 60 years earlier.

The ancestors of our founders set out in 1840 on a grand mission, to bring the word of God to the community by providing a house of worship. From log cabin, to wood frame to brick, down through the years, through joy, tragedy, depression and prosperity, from one generation to the next, the members of Mt. Comfort have accepted the same promise, to keep this church, in the words of our founders, as a place of divine worship.

The church has changed physically, but the spirit remains the same, for the spirit is God’s and the church belongs not to us, but to Him.

1840 – Sycamore Chapel

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History books tell us that beginning in 1836 the forefathers of our congregation worshipped in the homes of Thomas Craig, Obediah Eastes and Daniel Skinner. In 1863 fire destroyed the Sycamore Chapel and once again the congregation found itself without a church.

1870 – Hopewell Methodist Episcopal Church

A new building was built in 1870 and was erected on the site of the original chapel. The new building was named Hopewell Methodist Episcopal Church.

1888 – New Beginnings

The trustees hired a local farmer, James Murphy, to build the one-room rectangular frame church. The building was completed and dedicated in November 1888 by Reverend C.W. Wade to a total membership of 72 people.

1927 – Mt. Comfort Methodist Episcopal Church

The original Mt. Comfort church served the community well through the graveling of roads, the introduction of the automobile, the paving of a National Road, US 40 and World War I.

In 1927, there was not enough room in the rectangular frame church. Expansion was necessary, and Mt. Comfort church underwent a major remodeling. During the remodeling, church services were held at the Mt. Comfort School, a three-story brick building close to the church. The original structure was raised four feet, a new section was added to the south side, and a new steeple was added. The sanctuary was renovated, and a full basement was dug underneath the church. The basement provided room for Sunday School classes, youth group activities and an annual Vacation Bible School. A kitchen was added in the basement to accommodate the need for pitch-in dinners and church community smorgasbord. The expansion of the church was completed in 1927. The Mt Comfort Methodist Episcopal Church was ready to meet the hard times that were coming.

1958 – Mt. Comfort Methodist Church

National leadership of the various Methodist groups decided to unify. Mt. Comfort dropped the “Episcopal” from the name and became Mt. Comfort Methodist Church.

In the 1940’s, the community and church settled into a period of slow and steady growth. These were the days of Sam and Laura Scalf, Georgia and John Thomas, Allen and Stella Easter, Jim and Mickey Fentz, Lula Blue, Ruth Kelly, and a hundred other people devoted to keeping the church alive and growing. The church yard was landscaped in 1952, and the parking lot was expanded in 1954. In 1956, Mt Comfort Methodist Church needed more space and once again remodeling began.

In 1958, the construction was complete, and the new sanctuary was consecrated on August 20, 1958.aboutUs_history_02

After the 1958 construction, growth came quickly. McCordsville Methodist Church also experienced growth during the same period. At the time, Mt Comfort and McCordsville were sharing a minister. McCordsville Methodist Church requested its own minister. In 1958, Mt Comfort Methodist Church decided to go with its own minister.

The first parsonage of Mt Comfort was built under the direction of Floyd Kuhn. Just seven months after the plans were accepted, the parsonage was finished. Pastor Dwayne Jones was the first occupant.

October 1973 – New Church Sanctuary and Classrooms

May 1972 marked the beginning of the end of an important era. On Mother’s Day, disaster struck when a tornado touched the church. The frame of the church shifted off the foundation – nobody was hurt. The decision was made to build a new church. The formal ground breaking ceremony was held April 1, 1973. October 1, 1973 was the final day of preparation. The first service in the new church building was October 21, 1974. The church building cost approx. $100,000. Much of the finish work was done by church members. The new facility included a large worship center, eleven classrooms, a conference room, an office, and a kitchen with amenities like air conditioning, extensive sound system and laboratories in three classrooms. The eighty-eight- year-old structure was demolished by volunteers.
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November 1985

The church continued to grow in its new facilities, but by the time Rev. William Bellmore joined us in 1982, Mt. Comfort Methodist Church had outgrown the sanctuary as the pews could no longer accommodate all the worshippers. The Sunday School rooms were overflowing. The church also did not have enough parking spaces. Once again, expansion was needed. Church activities continued to grow. Men’s breakfasts, fall bazaars, Easter Cantata’s, Mother-Daughter Banquets, Chili Suppers, Bible Studies and other activities flourished. The youth group was active and children’s choirs increased. The annual Christmas Eve Candlelight Service had candles throughout the church, outside the driveway and down Mt Comfort Road to Interstate 70 in addition to east and west of cross streets to form a large cross.
Leoma Eakin, whose portrait hangs in the parlor (presently a conference room), was the great-granddaughter of Joseph Wright, an early Buck Creek Township settler (his grave is found in the cemetery north of the church). She maintained an interest in the community where her ancestors lived and in the Mt. Comfort Church, which she considered her home church. On March 24, 1984, God took Leoma Eakin to be with Him. In her will, Leoma left a financial legacy to be divided between this church and the Hancock Memorial Hospital. These funds helped pay for the new Mt. Comfort Methodist Church sanctuary, narthex, parlor, restrooms, office space for pastor and secretary.

On November 24, 1985; 97 years after month of the dedication of the first church on this site. Reverend Darrel Riley conducted the first worship service in our new church sanctuary.

1988 – 100th Anniversary

In 1988 Mt. Comfort United Methodist Church celebrated its 100th anniversary under the guidance of Rev. Thomas True. We added a youth minister to guide our young people. The choir, directed by Jan Amick and accompanied by Mary Lou Holliday, contributed much to the Sunday services. Additional organ music was provided by Mary Springer and Deanna Ringer. The budget for 1988 was $180,009.00. We were in debt again, and already short of space for Sunday School classes, but we had faced those problems before and knew we could overcome them through cooperation, dedication, and trust in God. In 1988, our trustees worked hard to keep the promise that three men acting as trustees made one hundred years ago to insure that this church would stand tall on higher ground. Because of their efforts and those of many tireless members, Mt. Comfort was designated “Church of the Year” (in our size category) by Town and Country Ministries.

April 20, 1989 – New Parsonage Behind Church

In November 1989 ground was broken for the new parsonage to be built behind the church. It was completed in record time and consecrated on April 20, 1990. In 1990 Harvey Childs became the choir director, and Leland Brett joined us as the new Associate Minister. Mt. Comfort Pre-School started with Pat Zarse as the director. William Carnes was hired as the new choir director. Rev. True departed, and Rev. Gritter joined us for a few months. Late in 1991, Rev. Lloyd Wright assumed the pulpit as an interim minister until Rev. Mark Fisher came in March 1992. In 1994 John Carrick came to serve as Associate Minister, and Mary Ellen Harding became the new choir director. In that year we began two Sunday morning services throughout the year. In 1995, the budget was $236,692.00. The Administrative Board voted to hire a Director of Youth and Children’s Ministries. Shortly thereafter John Porter filled the position. In 1996 the first handbell rehearsal was held.

The Family Life Center

After months of discussion and consultation, the committee proposed the building of a multi-purpose facility that would include a new main entrance, a redesigned kitchen, a café area, several classrooms, improved child care areas, and a large auditorium with a stage and audio-visual loft plus a basketball court. Financing the new facility necessitated that the 99+ acres of farm ground owned by the church be sold. Sale was authorized in October 1999. In April 2000, we launched a capital funds drive “Opening New Doors” to begin raising the estimated 2 million dollars needed to complete the project. On August 20, 2002, excavation for the expansion began. Total cost of the addition was $2,167,9925.46. On June 20, 2002 the occupancy permit was granted and on June 24, 2002, a dedication service was held.

In 2001, we were delighted to welcome a new Associate Minister, Bob Land, and we were even more delighted to offer congratulations when he was ordained in 2002. However, this year Rev. Fisher was reassigned after serving our church for 10 years. In February 2002, we welcomed Rev. David Patrick who came to us from Rushville.

Beginning in January 2003, Carol Wright became our Minister of Music. The youth took part in a two-day program entitled Acquire the Fire, held in Muncie, and 55 anticipated in Ichthus. A smaller group traveled to Kentucky during the summer on a mission trip. On May 27, 2003, we bid farewell to John Carrick and his family as they prepared to begin their mission work in Paraguay, South America. On October 5, 2003, we bid farewell to Associate Minister Bob Land who had been assigned to his own church, good news for him and those in his church, but sad news for those of us at Mt. Comfort.

In 2005 Carol Wright tendered her resignation as Minister of Music. Soon after, we hired Bob Hensley to assume this position. In 2005, after 3 years as our pastor, Rev. Patrick was reassigned. The Rev. Dr. Norman Campbell was our next pastor.

In 2007, our Music Director, Bob Hensley left us after sharing his musical talent and working very hard in many ways for our church. The Rev. Dr. Campbell resigned in November 2007.

December 2007 through June 2008, Rev. Jim Gentry, whom we all grew to love, became the interim pastor. In January 2008, Darrell Day became the Worship Arts Director.

On July 1, 2008, Pastor Reid Walker became our new pastor. He brought with him lots of enthusiasm, new ideas, his love of God, and love for all. Music Director Elaine Holloway began serving Mt. Comfort Church during this time. Pastor Walker ended his tenure with Mt. Comfort Church in June 2012, when he was reassigned to another congregation.

On July 1, 2012, Pastor David Galbraith began his appointment at Mt. Comfort United Methodist Church. Pastor Dave stated, “As I look forward to the coming years at Mount Comfort United Methodist Church, we must seek God’s will for our lives; then and only then will this church live out its mission of making disciples and transforming the world.”

Conclusion

In 1840 Thomas Craig and his wife Sarah Eastes sold three quarters of an acre of land to five men for $5.00 for the purpose of erecting a church in Buck Creek Township. That modest log cabin called the Sycamore Chapel was the beginning. Its fiery destruction in 1863 could have been an end, but it wasn’t. The faith was strong and gave rise to a new structure, a frame building known as the Hopewell Methodist Episcopal Church. And from this church came Amity and Mt. Comfort.

We owe our creation to the generosity of Silas Sylvester Eastes and his wife, Elvira Scotton, who in 1888 conveyed land to three trustees who promised to use, keep and maintain the property for the use of the ministry and membership of the Methodist Church. Those trustees saw to it that construction progressed, and in November 1888 the building was dedicated.

Down through the years many trustees have fulfilled that promise made well over 100 years ago, and hundreds of members have worked to hold the faith. This is cause for joyous celebration and thanking God for watching over our predecessors and over us.

But it is also a time for contemplation. The ancestors of our founders set out in 1840 on a grand mission: to bring the word of God to this community by providing a house of worship. In 1888 descendents of those God-fearing pioneers accepted the same responsibility. It was up to them to see that the Methodist Church grew strong to serve God. That sturdy group of the faithful promised to build a house of worship dedicated to the work of God, and with God’s helping hand, they succeeded. They and those who followed kept this church vibrant and growing, constantly expanding to help those who wanted to join the Lord’s service.

From log cabin to wood frame to brick, down through the years, through joy and tragedy, depression and prosperity, from one generation to the next, the members have accepted the same promise, to keep this church, in the words of our founders, as “a place of divine worship.”

From log cabin to wood frame to brick, the church has changed physically, but the spirit has remained the same, for that spirit is God’s. As did our founders, we hold that spirit in trust, to be cared for and nurtured as best we know how. And, we hold this building in trust, too, for it belongs not to us but to Him.

Despite our weaknesses, we find the strength in faith to keep the Mt. Comfort United Methodist Church vibrant and growing. Despite our differences, we work together to insure an even better second hundred years in the life of our church, keeping in mind that the building is only as strong as the faith of those who worship within. And we demonstrate in every way our dedication to the faith of our fathers, ever looking upward, standing steadfast on higher ground.

Majority of material taken from “Higher Ground: A Centennial History of the Mt Comfort United Methodist Church,” 1988 written by Sharon Kingen