Where it all began…
The beginning of what became Saint Joseph United Methodist Church met in the home of Christian Parker to pray, study and worship. Starting in 1836 an organizational meeting was held in an existing schoolhouse located on the southeast corner of Saint Joe Road and Saint Joseph Center Road where Parker Cemetery is now located.
The new worshipping community was consecrated at the crossing of Saint Joe and Saint Joseph Center Roads. In 1863 a 34′ by 45′ frame building was constructed on land and donated by George Ashley on the northwest corner of the crossing we now call Riviera Plaza. There was no water or electric power. Who would’ve known that three buildings and more than a 100 years later we would still have a thriving Church community today.
In 1905, electric power was installed in the frame building, but it still had no water. Sure to the growth of the congregation, in 1916, a larger building was required. A brick structure was built on the northeast corner of Saint Joe Road and St. Joseph center Rd. The large stained glass window of Jesus from the Brick Church is now located in the choir room.
The second church (a brick structure) was built in 1916 on the northeast corner of Saint Joe Road and St. Joe Center. Rd. The new church was a one-story building with a basement that provided classrooms with movable partitions. The restroom was at the end of a path outside, and the water came from a well also outside. For the first time, there was electrical power which was used when the ladies made lunched for a nearby canning plant. The money raised was used to buy needed items. A well pump and inside water supply were added to the second church, but more parking was needed.
In 1957, Medical Protective Insurance Co. provided the 7 1/2 acre site for the third church (the northwest corner of our present building) which included a pastor’s office, classrooms, kitchen and a multipurpose room which was served as a gym and a sanctuary with a choir loft over the kitchen and a boiler room beneath. A small parking lot was on the north.
As interest in the new worshipping center increased, in 1967 the need for additional facilities were required which included a sanctuary, classrooms, a main entrance and a hall to the sanctuary. The pastor’s office was moved to the south hall. in 1979, the administration office, the east education hall joining the north and south wings, and narthex gathering area were added. Two additional paved parking areas were also required. We came closer to the church we know and love today.
In the early 1990s the need for additional classrooms became evident when a survey indicated that every room was in use with no room for growth. With this in mind,a building committee was appointed to see what was needed. The F-wing was added containing ten classrooms, a music room, a kitchen, two restrooms and halls. Now, with expanded facilities, Saint Joseph can host students from Fairfield Elementary in a program called Study Connection.
The mission of Saint Joseph is threefold:
- Grow the number of “Professions of Faith” by 15% each year for the next ten years.
- In the next ten years: begin 9 House Churches and three new worshipping communities.
- Move toward the goal of having 80% of congregation (including children) in regular spiritual growth/studies.
- Find or Develop and administrate a tool to track spiritual growth.
- Have an annual focus on young people entering fulltime Christian service.
- Seek excellent, transforming, inspiring worship.
- Raise Fort Wayne Community Schools to the highest graduation rate in Allen County.
- Within ten years have 1000 Kenya Simba Scholars.
The United Methodist churches in Indiana are part of a worldwide church that holds to the basic teachings of Christianity, and we consider ourselves part of the whole church of Jesus Christ made up of many denominations.
Saint Joseph is part of an 11-million-strong global church that opens hearts, opens doors and opens minds through active engagement with our world. We encourage everyone who seeks to respond to God’s love, to grow in spiritual strength, and to participate in a community providing support and opportunities for service. We are followers of Jesus Christ and believe that everyone can experience God’s love through Christ and be changed. This is God’s “amazing grace.”
This grace fills us with an assurance that we are God’s beloved children, and gives us courage to live our lives with strength, integrity, love and compassion. God wants us, both as individuals and as communities to be better than we are. So we are active in applying God’s truth to our own lives, and to the larger communities of which we are a part.
While we are bound together by these truths, we celebrate a wide diversity of opinions about many matters. John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, said that Methodists are not defined by their opinions but by how much they love God and “shed God’s love abroad in the world.”
We invite you to learn more about our rich theological heritage, by visiting the official website of the United Methodist Church.