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CRA164 -- First Congregational Church Records


2.25 Linear Feet
January 1985
Revised May 1989


Miss Marie Edwards donated the First Congregational Church Records to the Calumet Regional Archives on February 7, 1984.

Property rights in the collection are held by the Calumet Regional Archives; literary rights are dedicated to the public. There are no restrictions on access to the collection.

Linear feet of shelf space; 2.25 linear feet
Number of container: 3 boxes
Calumet Regional Archives Collection 164
Processed by: Mark A. Vargas
Date: January, 1985
Revised: May 1989

Scope and Content

The records document the history of the First Congregational Church of Gary from 1908 to 1966. Most of the information is detailed in records of church organizations and Sunday bulletins. In the Annual Reports from 1947 to 1962 the researcher can usually find documentation for the following groups or committees: Minister, Deacon, Treasurer, Financial Secretary, Membership, Clerk, Adult Fellowship, Church School, Music, Flower, Trustee, Usher, Nominating, Girl Scout, Pilgrim Fellowship, and the Mayflower Guild. Also, the correspondence of the pastors deals with their appointments and resignations, and their role in church anniversary celebrations.

Researchers may find useful the membership rosters from 1946 in Trustee Records, 1942-1946; 1962 and 1963 in the respective Annual Reports; and 1964 in Newsletters, 1950-1965.

Researchers may also be interested in the church's position on race relations. The minutes of a special meeting to consider the enrollment of black members can be found in the Minutes, Congregation, Race and Membership file. Documentation of the proposed dismissal of Rev. O.M. Hepler can be found in respondence file. Researchers may also wish to review church bulletins from 1963 and 1964 on the race issue. The church published a special bulletin on the murder of black Birmingham, Alabama schoolchildren, which is found after the 22 September 1963 bulletin.

Also of interest is the 1919 church pledge against "anti-Americanisms," found in the Historical Information file, Box 1, Folder 1.

Other collections held by the Calumet Regional Archives concerning church history include the City Methodist Church Records (CRA 020); St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church Records (CRA 147); and Christ Church (Episcopal) Records (CRA 158).

Historical Sketch

The history of the First Congregational Church of Gary began in 1906, when pioneers held Sunday School under oak trees at what is now Third and Broadway. In 1907, at the Broadway Nickel Theater, the congregation started proceedings for affiliation with the Congregational Church. Among the original trustees was Ora L. Wildermuth.

The church received its charter in 1908, and laid the cornerstone for its building at sixth and Madison on December 7, 1908. A new church building was built at Sixth and Grant in 1926.

On February 6, 1966 the First Congregational Church was unified with the Fifth Avenue United Church of Christ as the First United Church of Christ. On January 30, 1972, the Peace United Church of Christ was founded by the unification of the First United Church of Christ and Christ the King United Church of Merrillville. Groundbreaking for the church's present location took place on September 29, 1974.

Pastors of the First Congregational Church were the Rev. Arthur Sullens, Rev. Willard C. Lyon, Rev. Frederick E. Hopkins, Rev. Luke Stuart, Rev. Eric Lindh, Rev. C.J. Armstrong, Rev. Merrill Beale, Rev. Ray Barber, Rev. Orville Hepler, Rev. John Schofield, Rev. Charles Jennings, Rev. Uesley Durland, and Rev. Paul Metzer.

Box File Description
1 1 Historical Information (1907-1974)
2 Articles of Incorporation (1910, 1927)
3 Constitution and By-Laws 1921-1963
4 Minutes, Council 1910-1934, 1952-1954
5 Minutes, Board of Trustees, (1921-1944)
6 Minutes and Reports, Church Building, 1925-1928
7 Minutes, Women's Society, 1925-1928
8 Minutes, Congregation: Race and Membership, 1954
9 Minutes, Deacons, 1955-1965
10 Minutes, Congregational Conference of Indiana, 1926
11 Correspondence, Rev. Arthur J. Sullens, 1964
12 Correspondence, Rev. C.J. Armstrong, 1942
13 Correspondence, Rev. Merrill Beale, 1942, l946
14 Correspondence, Rev. Ray W. Barber, 1947, 1949
15 Correspondence, Rev. Orville N. Hepler, 1949,1955
16 Correspondence, Rev. John D. Schofield, 1955
17 Correspondence, Rev. Chas. Jennings, 1957-1958
1 18 Correspondence, Church Mortgage, 1920, 1926-1936
19 Correspondence and Related Documents, Sale of Parsonage, 1943-1945
20 Correspondence, Various, 1912-1918, 1925
21 Correspondence, Various, 1961-1963
22 Correspondence, Various, 1964
23 Membership Demits, in and out, 1915, 1917-1930, 1970
24 Ministerial File, 1920-1931; Pulpit Committee, 1955
25 Trustee Records, 1942-1946
26 Annual Reports, Fiscal Years 1947-1952
27 Annual Reports, Fiscal Years 1953-1958
28 Annual Reports, Fiscal Years 1959-1964
29 Financial Reports, 1919-1924
30 Financial Reports, 1925-1953
31 Financial Reports, 1954-1960
32 Financial Reports and Pamphlets, Various, 1952-1963
33 Treasurer's Reports, 1958-1966

Box File Description
2 1-2 Treasurer's Books, 1912-1944
3-4 Pledge Books, 1925-1931
5 Check Register, 1934-1936
6 Insurance Policies, 1936-1937
7 Church Building Information, 1908-1910
8 Programs, Church Groundbreaking, 1925
9 Programs, Church Dedication, 1926
10-14 Invoices, Church Building and Equipment, 1925-1926
15 Newsletters, 1950-1965
16 Bulletins, 1944-1945
17 Bulletins, 1946, 1949
18 Bulletins, 1950-1951
19 Bulletins, 1952-1953
20 Bulletins, 1954-1955
21 Bulletins, 1956-1957
22 Bulletins, 1958-1961

Box File Description
3 1 Bulletins, 1962-1963
2 Bulletins, 1964-1965

Subject Tracings

  • Churches
  • Congregationalism
  • First Congregational Church (Gary)
  • Gary
  • Girl Scouts
  • Race Relations
  • Religious Organizations
  • Wildermuth, Ora