Solid Rock United Methodist Church
Wednesday, May 31, 2023
... building lives on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Solid Rock UMC History

     Solid Rock United Methodist Church was formed from the union of the Jefferson Center United Methodist Church and the Warren United Methodist Church. The two churches first worshiped together as Solid Rock on July 6, 2008, and the merger was officially recognized as of August 1 of that year.
     Many months of discussion, deliberation, and prayer preceded the decision to merge. Both congregations had been seeking direction for the future of their ministries, facing challenges of declining attendance, aging congregations, and church facilities which were not handicapped accessible, not conducive to programming needs in the twenty-first century, and in need of ongoing maintenance.
     A task force was appointed, consisting of members of both congregations, to study opportunities for cooperative ministries. This task force first met on January 17, 2007. While many members in each congregation had given consideration to the idea of a merger, initially the task force discussed numerous ideas for joint ministry and ways in which the two congregations might work together to become better acquainted. One of the first steps taken by the task force was to open communication between the congregations by publicizing events and inviting participation of each congregation in the activities of the other.
     The task force was named "New Ministries Vision Team." Several meetings ensued, and input was sought from both congregations. While many expressed interest in pursuing joint ministries, the work of the committee moved slowly for lack of direction and uncertainty about how best to proceed.

New Ministries Vision Team
Representing Jefferson Center: Barbara Hart, Steve Holmes, Myrna Neff, Jerry Walter.
Representing Warren: Linda Cloud, Wendell Jackson, Bruce Preston, Oma Zent. Later in the process, Mike Bolinger and Bonnie Zeller replaced members who left the team.

The Decision
     In June 2007, Administrative Council members of both congregations received letters advising them of an upcoming vote to determine whether the New Ministries Vision Team should continue its work or disband. The vote directed the committee to continue its work, with the understanding that no commitment to a merger had been made, only that more fact-finding would take place.
     Many members of each congregation had deep roots in their home church. As discussion continued, it became apparent that, although the congregations could remain separate and participate in some joint ministries, only through a complete merger could the desired ministry goals be accomplished. For many, this idea took some time to accept. Throughout the process, meetings, discussions, and decisions were surrounded by prayer in both congregations as God's will was sought.
     In early 2008, the New Ministries Vision Team felt the time had come for the congregations to decide whether or not to go forward with a merger. Both Administrative Councils agreed to hold Charge Conferences on the evening of March 18. Under the direction of District Superintendent Rev. Chip Gast, the Warren Conference was held first, followed an hour later by the Jefferson Center Conference. Both Conferences ratified the proposed merger, and the process which had previously progressed slowly now began to move steadily forward.
The Transition
     Having made the commitment to unite the congregations, the next questions were "how" and "how soon?" Various scenarios were considered. Were either of the existing churches large enough to accommodate combined worship? Could the two congregations perhaps meet together at a third site once a month? Change was coming quickly. How soon would members of the two congregations be able to adapt and feel comfortable with a complete merger?
     Warren and Jefferson Center United Methodist Churches held their first joint Administrative Council meeting on April 29, 2008. The main business of the meeting was to approve appointments to four new ministries committees. These included a Naming Committee, a Transition Committee, a Building/Site Committee, and a Capital Funds Committee.

Committees which oversaw the merger process:
Naming Team: Michelle Bolinger, Julie Schwartz, Peg Christner, Brenda Conner, Rita Bolinger, Curley Boxell, Mariah Spahr, Dave Spahr, Linda Cloud, Emma Sabinski, Rosalie Walter (chair), Jorita Banter, Ron Neff, Linda K. Howell, Jeff Walter, Marg Bentley, Candy Smith, Dottie Souers, Dale Smith, Dave Wechsler
Capital Funds Team: Joh Smith, Myrna Neff, Steve Holmes (chair), Gary Walter, Randy Neff, Susan Mills, Wanda Spahr, Barbara Preston (secretary), Barbara Souder, Vickie Sieberns, Wendell Jackson, Robert DeWeese
Transition Team: Joenita Keller (chair), Mike Bolinger, Marie DeWeese, Linda McHowell, Oma Zent, Perry Spahr, Jeff Walter, Randy Hensley, Jackie Wolfe, Rochelle DeHaven, Becky Fippen, Barbara Hart
Building/Site Team: Darrell Blair, Jeff Walter, Matt Walter, Joh Smith, Barbara Kleinhans, MIndy Rider, Mandy Bordeaux, Tamara Spahr, Taya Decker, Bruce Preston, Joe McIntire, Pat Shuttleworth

     By this time, Rev. Kathy Newton, pastor at Jefferson Center, had been appointed for another year. The Warren pastor, Rev. Mike Malone, retired from the pastorate, and Rev. Newton was appointed to pastor both churches.
     In May 2008, the plan was for the churches to continue meeting in their individual locations, with Jefferson Center holding its worship service at 9:00 a.m. followed by Warren's service at 10:30. On July 6, the congregations would meet jointly at the Warren site at 9:30, then attend the Salamonie Summer Festival community service together.
 Naming a new church
     Ten members from each the Warren and Jefferson Center Churches were appointed to the Naming Committee. The committee met on May 4 and May 12, 2008. Over 80 names were prayerfully considered and discussed. Guidelines for naming churches were read and the following criteria were considered important for choosing a name for the new church.
  • Welcoming (not too "churchy" to exclude the unchurched; appeal to all ages)
  • Spiritual connotation (meaningful as a church name 50 years from now, not just a reflection of the present merger)
  • Unique (not shared by another entity in the area, nor the name of more than two other UMCs in Indiana)
  • Memorable (easy to pronounce, easy to remember, clear meaning)
     Guidance was sought from the District Superintendent's office. The name should be followed by "United Methodist Church" and must be approved by the combined Administrative Council of the the two churches. Caution was given: it was best not to have an all-church vote.
     Committee members freely voiced their opinions. A paper ballot showed that one name was by far the favorite and stood out as fitting the criteria. Dave Spahr moved, Ron Neff seconded, and the sixteen members present voted unanimously by a show of hands to recommend to the combined Council: Solid Rock United Methodist Church. "Anyone who hears and obeys these teachings of mine is like a wise person who built a house on solid rock." Matthew 7:24 (CEV)
     The name was enthusiastically accepted at the May 20 meeting of the joint Administrative Council.
Two become one
     Enthusiasm over the merger and the opportunities for combined ministry became so great that, by the June 17 meeting of the new Solid Rock Administrative Council, it was decided not to proceed with the plan of holding two services each Sunday in the two locations, but to begin meeting together permanently beginning with the July 6 service. The new congregation would meet at the Warren site in July and the Jefferson Center site in August, then alternate months.
     Meanwhile, the work of the Building/Site Committee was proceeding. After considering several potential building sites, a parcel of land on Bennett Drive owned by Heritage Pointe was selected.
     During the spring of 2009, both the Jefferson Center Church and the Jefferson Center parsonage sold. Pastor Kathy, who had continued to reside at the Jefferson Center parsonage, moved to the former Warren parsonage. The last service at Jefferson Center was held on May 31, celebrating 82 years of ministry to the community. The congregation would now meet at the Warren site until a new facility was constructed.
     The Capital Funds Committee was also active during this time. At their recommendation, the Administrative Council approved a contract with Church Growth Services to conduct a capital campaign. The campaign was conducted in the fall of 2009, with a goal of raising $400,000. At the conclusion of the campaign, commitments totaled $556,000.
A new facility
     Planning for a new building began at the inception of Solid Rock. An 11-acre tract was purchased on Bennett Drive. The congregation approved plans for the new facility on October 16, 2011, followed by groundbreaking on October 30. Construction was completed and the first service in the new building was celebrated on August 11, 2013, five years after the founding of Solid Rock.