Location: Elm street, near Cedar.
Originally establishes as a mission enterprise, by the First Church, and in its infancy conducted and sustained by the parent body, the Seventh Church has now about attained the stature of a full grown and self-sustaining organization; able and entitled to manage its own affairs. Of the maxim that "Christianity is the greatest civilizer," the results of this enterprise are a triumphant exemplification.
One Sabbath day, early in the year 1865, Mr. R. Craig, a resident of the southeastern part of the city, was much disturbed by a rude and lawless troop of boys, outrageously wanting in that training which inspire a decent respect for the Sabbath day. Their repeated and flagrant violations of the Sabbath, and unruly conduct generally, had often outraged the feelings of the staid old Scotchman, but never to such a degree as on this occasion; and now, for the first time, he began to seriously debate with himself the question of a remedy. He thought of applying to the police; and then dismissed that recourse, as being an inadequate measure of relief, and not sufficiently radical. Finally he decided that a Sabbath-School, by reaching the consciences of the offenders, would, in the course of time, effect a thorough and lasting cure. Mr. Craig, who was a member of the First Church, proceeded at once to prepare for the application of his remedy.
The pastor and elders of that church concurred in his proposition, and called a meeting of the pastors and elders of the four principal Presbyterian churches, to consult upon a plan for opening the campaign; a meeting of the officers and pastors of the First and Third Churches was shortly afterward held to consider the question; and finally it was agreed that the First Church should take suitable steps to provide spiritual instruction for the south-eastern quarter of the city. Wm. R. Craig and N. M. Wood were shortly afterward appointed a committee to establish a Sabbath-school there; for defraying the expenses of which work of organization, $130 was voted. A room in an old carpenter shop, belonging to Peter Routier, on Cedar street, was rented for the purpose. The school was organized by Messrs. W. R. Craig and Thomas McIntire, and successfully conducted through the summer of 1865 under the superintendence of N. M. Wood, Esq.
The rude building was occupied by the mission proving too small and uncomfortable for the purpose, it was decided to erect a suitable building for Sabbath-School and other religious services. Through the exertions of Jame M. Ray, a member of the First Presbyterian Church, a site was secured in Fletcher's Addition, donated by Calvin Fletcher, Sr., A. Stone, W. S. Witt, Elisha Taylor and James M. Hough. The board of Church Extension pledged $500 to aid in the erection of a building, and the First Church took upon itself the responsibility of seeing to it that the new enterprise should not fail. To this and Elder Thomas McIntire and James W. Brown, Esq., were appointed a committee to superintend the work of erecting the new building. Subscriptions to the amount of over $3,200 were collected, and the Sabbath-School early in December, 1865. The parent church supplied the Rev. W. W. Sickles to preach for the young congregation for a period of six months. The dedicatory exercises were held on the 24th December, 1865, and were conducted by the Rev. J. H. Nixon, pastor of the First Church. The Rev. Thomas Galt, licentiate, of Chicago, preached for the congregation from May to September of 1867; and was succeeded by Rev. C. M. Howard.
At 7 1/2 P. M., on the 27th November, 1867, the church was formally organized by order of the Presbytery; the committee consisting of the Revs. J. H. Nixon and William Armstrong, and Elders Thomas McIntire and William R. Craig. Twenty-three persons, either by examination or by letter, were admitted into the new organization. Wm. R. Craig was chosen the first elder, and the Rev. C. M. Howard was invited to become the pastor. Mr. Howard was a gentleman of extraordinary religious enthusiasm and industry. The field was forbidding, and a pastor in search of a pleasant sphere of labor, where the wilderness had been subdued by christian cultivation, would have avoided the pioneer duty assumed by Mr. Howard. The latter labored with such patient and persevering industry, that great success followed his efforts, and the church rapidly increased in numbers. Worn out by hard services, he was obliged to ask a release from his pastoral duties, and he retired from that position in October, 1869.
In November, 1869, the Rev. John B. Brandt was called to supply the congregation. At the end of the year he was compelled to discontinue his pastoral relation to the church, on account of the demands of his time by the Young Men's Christian Association of this city, of which he was the Superintendent.
During the year 1869 Samuel E. Kennedy, Edwin G. Barrett and Alexander Craig were elected elders; Messrs. J. W. Kolwes, Lewis H. Decker and James Duthie, deacons; C. A. Griffith, Robert J. Pedloe, John R. Childers, Jacob Beltz, Hiram C. Husted, J. W. Brown, Edwin G. Barrett, and John Jolly, Trustee.
Rev. L. G. Hay took charge of the church November 1st, 1870, remaining about six months. He was specially qualified for this post by many years of experience in similar fields, and by a happy union of religious zeal with practical sagacity, and the society flourished during his pastorate.
Rev. Charles H. Raymond has recently assumed pastoral charge of this church, and entered upon his work with the heart co-operation of his people.
The Scotchman's remedy for the cure of disorder in his locality has proven successful.
The present number of communicants is over one hundred. The Sabbath-School reckons about two hundred and fifty members and twenty officers and teachers. The success of the latter is largely due to the Superintendent, Mr. Ebenezer Sharpe, who lately retired from this position to take charge of the North Street Mission School. The present Superintendent is Mr. Alexander Craig.
The value of the property is about $2,000.
Holloway, W. R., Indianapolis, a Historical and Statistical Sketch of the Railroad City, a Chronicle of Its Social, Municipal, Commercial and Manufacturing Progress, with Full Statistical Tables, © 1870, pp. 212-214.