A steeple still standing


Zionsville United Methodist Church celebrates 175 years

By Sophie Pappas

For Frank Huff, Sunday mornings were never for sleeping in.

In fact, he did quite the opposite from the time he was a small boy. His mother would wake him as soon as the church bells began to ring, forcing a young Frank to make a groggy dash to the church pews.

“Mother insisted we walk to church every Sunday,” Huff said with a laugh. “She was very persistent.”

Frank and his sister, Fanny Rosenstihl, grew up in the village of Zionsville in a small home at 90 E. Pine St., and from the earliest days of their memories, have been members of the Zionsville United Methodist Church.

This month, the church is celebrating 175 years of ministering to the community.

“Frank and Fanny have lots of good stories,” said Jennifer Hicks, the church’s Director of Newcomer and Congregational Care. “As do lots of the people in this community.”

Huff recalls the church being a “staple” in the community, and remembers passing by the two town supermarkets, the old hardware store, and the gas stations on his weekly walk to the chapel.

“There were only two churches in Zionsville at that time,” Huff, who is now 77, said. “There was the Methodist and the Christian church, so you were one or the other. And let me tell you, church was always the center of the community.”

Hicks, who has lived in Zionsville for 15 years and has raised three children in the church, said that while the church has grown and evolved throughout the years one thing remains special: the people.

“They all have a history, which is really a history of our town,” Hicks said.

Glenn Howell, Senior Pastor of ZUMC, has been working within the network of Methodist churches for 30 years and said that Zionsville’s church offers a unique environment for its congregation.

“It’s a big moment to turn 175,” he said. “Not many things in Zionsville are still going at 175. It’s a great time. And it’s like the community in the sense that this church is full of very talented, generous people.”

To mark the 175th anniversary, members of the church went on a pilgrimage to Israel earlier this year. They also held a celebration on the steps of what is now Nancy Noel’s art gallery, The Sanctuary.

This Main Street building is the site that held the church for nearly 100 years, from 1854 until 1962. Prior to this location, church was held inside a log building on Michigan Road.

In 1962, the church moved its location to the 1100 W. Oak St. site, which now houses Zionsville Town Hall. It was not until 2001 that it moved to its current location on Mulberry Street.


Timeline of Zionsville United Methodist Church

1828– Local Methodists begin meeting in member’s houses.

1839– Bethel Methodist Episcopal Church is built out of logs on Michigan Road.

1854– Revival leads to the building of a new church on Main Street, and the name is changed to Zionsville Methodist Episcopal Church. Church membership was 180.

1908– New annex built to accommodate up to 500 people.

1938– Fire in the church caused extensive damage, and much of it was rebuilt.

1939– Methodist Episcopal and Methodist Protestant South churches unite.

1961– Groundbreaking for 1100 W. Oak St. church location.

1963– Oak Street church is dedicated. Total cost of the building was $250,000.

1998– Church decides to relocate after Lester Bradley, a member of the church since 1952, donated 37.3 acres of land in memory of his late wife, Alyce.

2001– Worship services begin at the Mulberry Street church location.

About ZUMC

Total grounds: 48 acres

Building size: 76,000 square feet

Bathrooms: 19

Seating capacity in sanctuary: 700

Height of steeple: 195 feet

12 columns in the sanctuary represent the 12 disciples and tribes

3 steps to the chancel represent the trinity

Church membership: 1,400

Fun Facts

  • The church’s oldest member is Charlie Miller, who is now 95.
  • The longest-attending members are Marjorie Turley, who has been a member for 77 years, and Martha Ogborn, who has been a member for 76 years.