By Lindsey Acton
The strong faith base known as an integral part of life for many Hendricks County residents has a robust history, dating back to well before many cities and towns were established. In fact, these faith organizations were instrumental in the creation of settlements that became today’s Hendricks County cities and towns.
While many churches have a long history, official records show these three have long-standing traditions.
Avon United Methodist Church
Avon United Methodist Church, formerly Avon Methodist Episcopal Church, is the oldest, currently operational church in Hendricks County. Though records show that conversations to found this church began as early as 1820, it wasn’t until after the inception of Avon Township in 1824 and the establishment of a post office in 1825 that the organization officially began.
Founded as Wesley Chapel in 1832, the church has served Avon and its surrounding areas in some capacity for close to 200 years.
Shortly after the inception of Hendricks County in 1823, Wesley Chapel formed, and its members originally met in the log cabin home of John Gossett, one of Hendricks County’s initial organizers.
This cabin served as Wesley Chapel’s home at the corner of Indiana 267 and Morris Street until it was likely destroyed by fire.
The earliest free-standing, wooden framed church building was constructed in 1842. Located a half-mile west of Avon on the northwest corner of U.S. 36 alongside Northlawn Cemetery, where historians believe some of the earliest burials happened about 1847. This church was used until it, too, burned in 1875.
A still larger, nearly identical structure was built in almost the same site and used until 1904 when population growth and construction necessitated yet another move. At this time, the tracks for the Indianapolis & Western Traction Company came nearly to the front door of the church, creating the need to relocate.
This move brought Wesley Chapel’s congregation to its first brick church, located on the corner of US 36, near the eastern edge of Avon. The move also allowed the inception of several church programs, including its first educational initiative. Avon’s kindergarten was later housed there. Seeing continued growth in the late 1960s Avon School Corporation bought the land.
By this time, Wesley Chapel became Avon United Methodist Church. Leaders were planning for facilities to accommodate population growth, and construction concluded in 1969.
By this time, the church had served Hendricks County for over a century, playing an important role in the betterment of Avon and surrounding areas. The church school program continued, as did its robust music program, though not much is known about the early musical history of this congregation.
Since that time, facilities have been added, improved and reconstructed to meet the congregation needs. Avon United Methodist Church remains the oldest, currently active church in Hendricks County.