A History of Union Chapel, Part 4: 1961 – 2000

Posted by Sharon Moore on

As Union Chapel moves into the future, we take a moment to appreciate where we've been. Our history is rich, the faith of our forefathers reaching back to Indiana's "pioneer days." Here, we present episode four of five. If you've found yourself in the middle of the story, the other installments are here: One, Two, Three.

Union Chapel’s bright future anticipated an expansion.  The sanctuary would become a chapel.  A new, much larger sanctuary would be constructed.  Connecting to the west end of the Education Wing, the new sanctuary would be large enough to allow all members to attend one service, instead of the two services now necessary.

The growth of the Nora community changed the landscape of the neighborhood.  Keystone Avenue extended across White River and through the farms of Union Chapel families.  One by one, the farmlands were sold, becoming upscale retail and residential areas.  Haverstick Road was truncated below 86th Street, with Keystone becoming the primary road for access to the church from the south.  I-465, passing a few blocks to the north of the church, made direct access from the north impossible.

Social changes came along with the landscape changes. Union Chapel was fast losing its position as the only church in the vicinity.  The new addition was not to become a reality.  By 1965 the congregation had reached its peak of 705 members and membership numbers began to fall.

Striving to meet the needs of congregational members, several improvements were made over the years, starting very soon after the building opened when an easier access to the basement was added to the east entrance.  Air Conditioning so followed.  A wheelchair ramp on the west end allowed access to the lower level of the Education Wing.  The east entry was expanded and ramp access was added into the office area.  Those unable to negotiate stairs could now get into the sanctuary and to Fellowship Hall.

By 1995 the congregation was again dreaming of expansion.  A “Dream Plan” was established, which included a modern, much larger sanctuary to the north.  Renovation of the Education Wing was the only part that was realized.

As the community grew, so did competition for attention.  People found that they passed at least one other church on their way to Union Chapel. Local sports programs, always a strong factor in the lives of the kids, were having activities on Sundays.  And life, in general, had become more complex. Traditional church activities struggled to maintain importance and relevance in the Nora community.  (To be continued...)

Tags: church, history, indiana, indianapolis, indianápolis, nora, union chapel, united methodist church