History of Valpo FUMCMethodism in Northwest Indiana 

      In the early 1800s, Fort Dearborn (later known as Chicago) was built and settlers began to move into this region. In 1822 the first white man settled in what is now Porter County, but the development of the area did not begin in earnest until a stage line was established by Converse & Reeves in 1833 linking Chicago and Detroit.

     In 1835, the LaPorte District of the Methodist Episcopal Conference sent the first missionary minister into Lake and Porter County areas: Mr. Stephen Jones. A circuit at that time consisted of 400 to 500 miles and took six to 12 weeks to complete, depending on travel conditions. Through Mr. Jones’ efforts and the grace of God, the Deep River Mission was organized and grew steadily.

 

The Origins of First United Methodist Church

     By 1836 and in the years that followed, the group of people who would become the First United Methodist Church of Valparaiso worshipped at Gossett’s Mill on the banks of Salt Creek. In 1847, the first church building was constructed. It was a small frame building on the corner of Jefferson and Franklin Streets. After meeting any available place in town for two years, our ancestors had a home of their own.

     The small meeting house was soon outgrown, and “the church with a steeple” was completed in 1849. It served the congregation until the “old brick church” was completed in 1886. In 1957 the Education Building (Wesley Hall) was completed. An alley originally separated it from the sanctuary.  

     In 1968 the old brick church was demolished and work began on the “new brick church” which forms the core of our current church building. Various additions, including Tower Chapel and the acquisition of Asbury Center across Chicago Street, have added office areas, classrooms, meeting rooms, and activity centers for our growing congregation.
     Like most downtown churches, however, we have become landlocked and there is no room for further expansion. Parking is at a premium for most worship services and large events, although we are able to use parking lots of downtown businesses that are not open on Sunday. 
      In 2006, the congregation of First United Methodist Church expanded its mission to include a second-site ministry called New Song. Located in the basement of the building at 212 E. Lincolnway in Valparaiso, it offered an informal but intimate area for worship for all ages, hospitality for all, and a ministry to children, which is quite welcoming especially for those that might feel uncomfortable in the traditional church setting.  
     With growth and a new direction from God, New Song chartered in May of 2010 as another United Methodist Church in Valparaiso.  God continues to expand His Kingdom.