Indianapolis – Fulfilling a Long-Time Vision

Over the past few weeks, we virtually visited two of our congregations in Africa. This week I’d like to write about an American congregation that traces its original roots way back to the old Radio Church of God days. After many years, the vibrant assembly in Indianapolis, Indiana fulfilled a vision that many had held for decades and received a major blessing, one that is still unfolding. Through a joint effort between the Indianapolis congregation, the Council of Elders and others at the Home Office, a 12,000 sq. ft. building was purchased in northeast Indianapolis in 2019. A previous church organization had bought and converted a former data processing facility into a multi-use church building with a formal assembly area, fellowship facility and other useful amenities.

Photos below include ABC Choir visit on March 20, 2021

On occasion a somewhat nomadic congregation in decades past, the Indianapolis congregation had a history of finding a meeting place, putting down some roots and then have circumstances force a move. Like many other congregations, this happened several times over the decades. Sometimes the halls were subpar, and sometimes very nice, like the fellowship hall the Indy congregation leased from a nearly new Lutheran church before it moved into its existing facility. But that rental hall, like other halls, presented several challenges, including short-term hassles of finding alternative meeting space when the Lutheran church hosted its own events.

Bev and I lived in Indianapolis for several years when we pastored the Terre Haute and Lafayette congregations and when I was serving as a member of the Council of Elders (Cincinnati is only about two hours away by car). We attended in Indy from time to time, especially when Indianapolis would host a joint service of outlying congregations (which would usually require the renting of a large hotel meeting room to accommodate everyone).  This was at a time when Darris McNeely was pastor.

The Indianapolis congregation had set up a separate building fund for local brethren in 1995. Over time this fund grew to six figures, and the Indianapolis brethren showed their generosity time and again by providing funds to other church congregations to help purchase buildings in Indiana and Ohio.

Photos of Indianapolis Teens Sushi Party

Now, owning a church hall and having 24-7 access has provided many major benefits, even during the restricted time of COVID-19 social distancing. Just before the Indy church moved in, then-Indianapolis pastor Bart Bornhorst took up a new post in Pennsylvania. Joshua Creech and his wife Lizzy, formerly serving as an associate pastor in Tennessee, moved north to take up serving the Fort Wayne and Indianapolis congregations, which has worked well.

Indianapolis, which merged with the Lafayette congregation a few years earlier (and also serves members from Kokomo, Columbus, and places in southern Indiana), holds a legendary reputation for service in hospitality and potlucks. As soon as the church moved into its new building, those and other church activities quickly ramped up. No more would chairs, audio equipment and hospitality areas have to be torn down and the building vacated by 6 p.m.

A 24-hour fun weekend “lock-in” for the teens was soon organized, something that could not have happened previously. Additional rooms in the new church building were dedicated to young people and expanded Bible classes for children. Other social events and after-services fellowship were expanded, including pizza and other types of gatherings. Indy members quickly organized to begin upgrading the facility and making improvements to freshen up areas and allow better use by brethren.

In March of 2020, things changed dramatically. Experience previously gained through setting up phone and internet connectivity would prove very valuable during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

With an expanded capacity for sound support, members in Indianapolis were able to set up multiple camera angles and video graphics to enhance streaming services. While brethren safely stayed home during the early days of the pandemic, Mr. Creech and other elders were able to lead traditional services from the Church building with only a handful of people present to conduct services. Everyone else linked in live through the internet and phone, and a song leader led hymns in the traditional fashion. On occasion live special music was presented. It provided familiar continuity, an important aspect during uncertain times.

During the lockdown, the church building was physically reset to match Indiana COVID-19 meeting requirements, and over time larger groups of members were able to return, all adhering to Indiana mandated standards.

Miscellaneous photos of Indianapolis UCG life!

As restrictions relaxed, more members began attending. A major moment came recently with the staging of the first-ever Night to Be Much Observed at the Indianapolis hall with dozens of members pitching in to help with and enjoy a catered meal a few weeks ago. My wife Bev and I were privileged to attend this first-time event and it was indeed a lovely and memorable evening.

Ironically, the previous hall rented by the Indianapolis congregation was closed right at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis and only recently began allowing people back in. If Indianapolis had not made its move, the UCG congregation would not have been able to meet in any fashion at the old hall for well more than a year!

As it were, the Indianapolis congregation hosted the Fort Wayne congregation for the Last Day of Unleavened Bread. The additional available building space allowed both congregations to safely attend while remaining in compliance with state meeting regulations. Many people had not seen each other for months. More such joint meetings are planned, as the Indy church building is conveniently located near the I-69 interstate that links to Fort Wayne.

Today, with upwards of 100 people attending each Sabbath, the Indy church looks forward to even more activities, Bible studies, seminars and other events to maximize the use of the building. Now well-versed in ZOOM technology, the Creechs are able to regularly unite brethren from all over Indiana through online women’s Bible studies, Second-hand Lions Club, and other meetings.

The Bible tells us “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1). In the first church service back in 2019, both Darris McNeely, former long-time Indianapolis pastor (and now Beyond Today host), and I were able to positively reaffirm that members are the church, not the building, and I had the privilege of reviewing Solomon’s prayer of dedication (1 Kings 8:22-61). The members in Indianapolis certainly have been living up to those high standards!

Want to experience Indianapolis firsthand? An open invitation for all visitors remains from the Creechs and the congregation, and anyone can easily search on Google for the address of United Church of God in Indianapolis or go online to


Posted in UCG.