Christ Church United Methodist
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Christ Church United Methodist is a church with a great heritage. Although we have only been at our current location since 1955, we’ve been God’s hands and feet in the Louisville community for a long time.
Christ Church United Methodist proudly traces its roots back to the first Methodist congregation in the city of Louisville where early Methodists met in a log cabin on the site of the present Jefferson County Courthouse beginning in 1806. The lineage of Christ Church flows from the members who separated from Fourth Street Methodist to build the new Brook Street Church, which thrived from 1839 until 1865. In 1865, the church sold its property and relocated to 233 East Broadway and changed its name to Broadway Methodist Episcopal Church, South.
Broadway Methodist Church
Broadway Methodist Church grew into one of the strongest churches in the Louisville Annual Conference. Broadway’s members furnished many ministerial and lay leaders to the Louisville Conference, sent the first missionary, Martha Hite Watts, to Brazil and helped to organize several other local Methodist churches including Highland, Fourth Avenue, Beechmont, and St. Paul.
By the 1940s, the community around Floyd and Broadway had begun a rapid change from residential to commercial. In addition, plans were made public to expand the Medical Center from Chestnut Street to include the area of Floyd and Brook. These factors led to an exodus of much of the downtown Louisville population to the suburbs and membership at Broadway Methodist began to diminish. On Sunday, Sept. 5, 1954, the church voted to consider relocating to the East Brownsboro Road area.
The Indian Hills Methodist Church
On Aug. 21, 1955, approximately 44 members of Broadway, Crescent Hill, Fourth Avenue, St. Matthews and St. Paul Methodist established a new church, naming it the Indian Hills Methodist Church. One week later, the first services of the new church were held in the Masonic Widows and Orphans school building.
Church school classes for all ages began meeting immediately. Among the adult classes were one which remains active at this present time — the Pathfinders (from the Broadway Church). Less than one month after initial services, the new church purchased 6.6 acres at Brownsboro Road and Blankenbaker Lane from Mr. and Mrs. Luther Goose.
Birth of “Christ Church”
After 90 years of service at Floyd and Broadway - the final Sunday worship service was held at Broadway Methodist Church on Nov. 17, 1955. The merger of the two congregations was celebrated on Nov. 20, 1955, at Garnett Hall. The oldest continuous Methodist church in Jefferson County merged with the newest!
On January 1, 1956, the new congregation adopted the name Christ Methodist Church.
A New Church Building
By late January 1956, it was decided to build a church plant that would accommodate 1200 in the sanctuary and 750 in the church school. On Sept. 1, 1957, just a little over two years after the initial call for volunteers to form the new church, the doors of a new chapel and initial educational facilities of Christ Methodist Church were opened.
Members of the young congregation took possession of their new accommodations with a fierce enthusiasm, continuing to grow in spiritual commitment. Church membership grew rapidly, and in a few short years the original facilities became over-crowded. By the end of 1961, plans were in place to move ahead with construction of a sanctuary, a fellowship hall, kitchen and certain additional classrooms. The construction was completed before the end of the year 1962.
The church’s membership exceeded expectations by 1966, straining the capacity of the facilities. To overcome these short comings and to continue the church on a path of growth and service, it was recommended that a two story structure be added on the east side of the church, parallel to the sanctuary. The plan for the lower floor of the proposed facility would include a gymnasium, shower rooms, scout and storage rooms, rest rooms, class rooms, lounge and offices. The plan for the upper floor would include class rooms, nursery facilities and rest rooms. In addition, it was planned to make an all-purpose room near the chapel, which became the Cloister Room, and cover the walk-way leading from the chapel to the sanctuary. Finally, the church should be properly staffed to meet the needs of a growing congregation and diversified interests.
The building was finished in March of 1974.
In the early 1980s, Christ Church fostered a mission church in Goshen that became St. John UMC. The church’s willingness to put such effort and resources into something outside herself is testament to her commitment to the community and to the charge to discipleship.
The Current Christ Church
Christ Church continued to grow and change physically, with major renovations in the 1980s and the addition of the current Fellowship Hall and expanded educational and office facilities completed in 1998.
By 2004, Christ Church’s growing membership and programming ingenuity led the congregation to begin its most recent expansion.A new three-story education building was dedicated in 2007, and provided new adult Sunday School classroom space, new office space, a parlor, a covered entrance, a dedicated coffee shop, and the space for the Children’s and Student Ministries to expand.
In 2009, Christ Church dedicated its current sanctuary, built to accommodate a membership that could no longer worship comfortably together in the sanctuary completed in 1962, now called the chapel. The new sanctuary is making it possible for Christ Church membership to continue to grow, as well as leading to expanded programming, such as the Sanctuary Concert Series, which gives our congregation the opportunity to welcome guests from across the city. More impressive, however, is the spiritual growth which has been the true hallmark of this congregation.
The number of current programs, including mission activities, small groups, Sunday School classes, music programs, support groups and activities shows that this is a church where lay people understand that each Christian is called to ministry. Our mission is to build a loving and inclusive Christian community that invites everyone to know God, to grow as a disciple of Jesus Christ, and to serve faithfully in the world.
Please continue to pray that the Holy Spirit will guide us in our endeavors.