4 Churches, 1 Faith Family

With hugs and words of greeting, members of Faith United Methodist Church welcomed their new pastors:  two former Taylor University “roommates” who were leaders in Good News, the evangelical caucus of the United Methodist Church’s Northern Indiana Conference.  

Rev. Larry Kurtz was the new Senior Pastor, and Rev. Frank Beard, an Elkhart native, the Associate. In two services 375 people joined for worship.  Faith was an entirely appropriate name selected for the resulting union of four inner-city congregations.  Castle, Grace, Good Shepherd, and Simpson voted April 18, 1993 to unite as one congregation and relocate to Elkhart’s east side while maintaining a ministry presence in the inner city. The groundbreaking and consecration service was held at the new site on April 23, 1995. Members of the Building Committee were Judy Atkinson, Al Bailey, Wilkie Bush, Don Covey, Jim Hacker, Teresa Jamison, Dick Jenks, Tony Johnson, Tim Lockhart, Bruce Martin, Ruth Miller, Becky Nelson, Jack Rodman, Dick Snellenberger, and Ramona Sutphin. On Sunday, September 14, 1996, Faith United Methodist Church worshiped as one congregation in its new facility. “To God Be the Glory, Great Things He Hath Done!”

Obediently following...

“Many of the traditions remain the same, but one has changed drastically.  It started as “The Story Sermon” for the kids to come down front & have a little sermonette.  We had so few kids back then, that the adults would sometimes come forward to accompany the kids.  We had young families go elsewhere because their child was the only one in her/his classroom. 


It was a mystery to us as to how 4 churches filled with older adults and very few kids could produce one church full of kids, youth, and bustling families.  It’s amazing what faith can do when we obediently follow God’s calling.  He called us to together, and just look at what He has done! Praise God from whom  all  blessings flow!”   ~Becky Nelson

“I was invited to do a women’s self-protection class for the Faith United Methodist Women in 1997.  I had been brought up Roman Catholic all my life.  I spoke to Pastor Larry afterwards and he convinced me to attend a service with my family.  I started with my two young boys Zack and Alex, and in 1998 we became members.  We finally convinced my husband Terry to attend along the way.  We now attend as an extended family, including our grandchildren.”  ~Norma Alber

"While living in a small apartment in Bloomington, one afternoon we had two visitors.  They were from Simpson & had driven down to see if I would direct the choir.  We visited several churches in Elkhart, and since I was going to teach music in the Concord School System, I thought directing the church choir would be a good experience.  What a blessing! Simpson became our family for 43 years. There were four choirs from Cherub’s through Adult. 

I had something missing from my spiritual life; during the pastoring of Rev. Doyle & the Sunday School class, I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior.  Alice Rowe was one of God’s true ambassadors of the faith.  She took our family & made us part of hers.  Our family needed Simpson in our joys, tears, fears, illnesses & decisions & they never let us down. 

But as years pass & life changes, all good things must change also.  Now I have a new family – the Faith Family.  My children are grown, my husband Hank has passed away, along with many of my mentors.  New people from four churches have formed a new family for me.  And I am finding the same closeness, lovingness, spiritual encouragement & concern because we are all members of God’s family, and I am so thankful!  Praise the Lord!"  ~Marty Morris

"Denny and I were looking for a church in the early 90’s…we came from First UMC on Mishawaka Road in Elkhart,  and needed a change…. then…Lo and Behold, in the Saturday Elkhart Truth, was an article and pictures about the merging of the 4 sister churches, with Larry Kurtz as pastor and Frank Beard as associate pastor.  There they were … on the front page of the religion section… with broad smiles welcoming anyone who wished to attend…..That was all it took….from that day forward, we were hooked….we were in a group  of many who were the first to be new members of the newly formed Faith church.


We have enjoyed many evenings making peanut brittle…serving dinners at our Wednesday Night Live services…helping at wedding receptions, fish fries, and fixing breakfasts for our Holiday Craft Show. The bulletin boards have been a passion of mine and we have faithfully served on many committees.


Our children were married here…our grandchildren have been dedicated here….and we have been truly blessed meeting new pastors and their families, meeting and keeping wonderful friends, being able to help send kids to camp and help bring clean water to Haiti.  There is a lot of love in this congregation…and we feel it….hope you do too!!!"  ~Jan & Denny Keck

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