Established in 1837, La Porte’s First Christian Church quietly closes

 

The congregation poses for a photo after the church’s last service.

The church at the southeast corner of Maple and Monroe.

Rev. Shattuck delivers his final sermon.

Story and photos by WNLP’s Mike Kellems (more photos below)

In addition to being a reference to Jesus, Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet; essentially the beginning and the end, or all encompassing. On Sunday, April 25, 2021, La Porte’s First Christian Church came to its own “Omega” as its final service was held.

The time capsule apparently didn’t want to reveal its contents …

With declining attendance and and aging congregation, a decision was made to close the church. Roughly 30 people were in attendance to sign the final hymns and listen to the final sermon by current minister Everett Shattuck. Shattuck is the 42nd minister to lead the congregation, which dates back to 1837.

The church building at the southeast corner of Maple Avenue and Monroe Street (across Monroe from the YMCA) was constructed in 1840 as a Presbyterian church and eventually became First Christian in 1868. Despite several remodels and additions, the hand-hewn beams of the 1849 structure can still be seen today in the attic.

Despite a bittersweet service this morning, Rev. Shattuck, who started at the church in 2007, led a spirited and often emotional homily.

… so Richard Vyse from Haverstock Funeral Home stepped in to save the day.

At the conclusion of the service a time capsule that was believed to have been placed in a cornerstone in the early 1970s was brought before the congregation to be opened. Bob Barnes, a longtime resident of La Porte County and now retired from New York Blower, was a youngster when he helped put the time capsule together and remarked that it was definitely left well secured. That was evident as several people attempted to open it without success. Richard Vyse, who is an owner of Haverstock Funeral Home next door, came to the rescue. Using fire, a vise, a pipe wrench and brute strength without success, a trusty battery-operated “sawzall” finally did the trick.

Inside the capsule a note was found listing the nine people who helped with the time capsule project, including Barnes. A church program dated September 26, 1971, along with several other documents all dated around the same time period, were found and read.

Before gathering for one last meal at the church, the remaining members of the congregation posed for a photo.

A note found inside the capsule.

4 Responses to “Established in 1837, La Porte’s First Christian Church quietly closes”

  1. Robert Hough

    Apr 26. 2021

    It was an emotional service indeed. With the aging congregation and youth moving away from the concept of church being in a location rather than in spirit, the organized congregation had little alternative other than to retire when its Pastor announced his retirement. Everette will be missed as will the congregation but the church will live on in spirit.

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  2. Mike K

    Apr 26. 2021

    I was thankful for this WNLP assignment and despite the finality, the incredible depth of history was very present.

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  3. William D Hartz

    Apr 27. 2021

    Definitely a lot of childhood memories here attending the First Christian church in the late ‘50s to ‘60’s. It was definitely a busy house of worship back then packed with a mix of young families and older members. The building may be empty today but it’s importance in our lives will not be forgotten.

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  4. Walt Kowalski

    May 03. 2021

    Lighthouse Church is currently in the process of purchasing the church. We’d like to say “Thank you” to the First Christian Church of helping make it possible for us to purchase the building. We are looking forward to seeing the building staying a church and continuing to reach the LaPorte community for Christ.

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