A Ministry of Place

Union Chapel has a long history of serving the Indianapolis community, specifically the area known as Nora. Indiana pioneers worshiped in the area as early as 1827. A church building was built in 1864, just a few blocks from Union Chapel’s current location. Many of their congregation were babies and children in the previous building. The name “Union Chapel” was given because originally all denominations used the building to worship. In the 1950’s, the congregation bought five acres at the corner of East 86th Street and Haverstick Road and built the current building. This beautiful, brick, chapeled building is a well-known landmark by many.

Today this congregation presents a unique demographic with an influx of young families and a continually growing group of elementary aged children. The Union Chapel Church building is well utilized with many groups using the facility and a long-established child-care ministry.  The church has a unique interest in the arts and music, offering special family art classes. They are blessed to have Amanda Keller-Ades, their “artist in residence” to lead their special arts programs.

In 2015, the church leadership began to explore the project.  The congregation had been working very hard to become a more missional, outward focused church. A significant part of their ministry was what the pastor, Andy Charnstrom, calls “ministry of place.” They had 300-400 people utilizing the space for reasons other than Sunday services. They realized there was no gathering space in the Nora area, so they decided on making the new space “a gift to the community.”

Union Chapel UMC

The project consists of building a two-story addition, which would include a large, much needed space for children and youth. There will also be an information center and large multipurpose room which would give the community a dedicated space to just engage, enjoy refreshments and talk.

Pastor Charnstrom shared a delightful story of how their architect was selected.

The leadership had advertised for and had met with several architects and design/build groups. After numerous interviews, they were only “partially satisfied,” Pastor Andy shared. Then, one day they found a brochure tucked under one of the church’s doors. It was from an architect living in Palatine, IL, who was in the area looking for work. The first thing they noticed, amazingly, the picture of the church on the front of the brochure looked just like Union Chapel! They decided this seemed like a very fortuitous sign and decided they would interview, then later hired, this architect. They have been more than pleased with his work and all agreed it truly was a “God thing” that brought them together.

As you can see from the photograph, this story is far from complete. They are so excited to see what the future holds and cannot wait to see, and share, the finished space!