Location: Corner of California and North streets.
This society was organized under the name of the Western Charge (west of the canal), in the yer 1845. The first minister appointed to the charge was the Rev. Wesley Dorsey.
A frame building for the use of the congregation was built on Michigan street, west of the canal, and christened Strange Chapel, in honor of the Rev. John Strange, an eminent and honored pioneer of the Methodist church in Indiana, whose remains lie in the old cemetery of this city. This building soon proved to be disadvantageously located, and it was accordingly removed to a site on Tennessee street, near Vermont.
At a quarterly meeting conference, held January 12th, 1869, the following resolution was adopted and put upon the minutes:
"Resolved, That it is the sense of this Quarterly Conference, that the prosperity of the charge, spiritually and financially, will be promoted by its adherence to the old usages of the church, especially in the seating of the congregation, and singing; and that the Conference hereby pledge the charge to stand by these usages."
This resolution was passed to accommodate some wealthy members, who did not believe in promiscuous or pew sittings, nor in choral or instrumental music. The result was the withdrawal of about one-half of the membership from the church by letter, and the addition of but four or five other members to the church during the ensuing quarter.
During the year 1869 the church property on West Michigan street was sold, and a new house of worship built, located on the corner of Michigan and Tennessee streets. This building, erected at a cost of $13,000, was dedicated on the 9th of January, 1870. To secure the further religious exercises of the congregation against all innovations on "old fashioned Methodism," provisions to that effect were incorporated in the body of the conveyance of the site. The edifice dedicated to these principles stood but one year, and was consumed by fire on Sunday, the 8th January, 1871.
Several months prior to the latter date, the membership had become divided on the question of receiving the pastor appointed by the Conference. The majority, but least wealthy, of the members were worshiping in Strange Chapel at the time of its destruction by fire. The other division, the lesser in numbers, the greater in wealth, had been worshiping in the building of the Second Universalist church congregation, over the way from Strange Chapel.
The church property -- that portion which had not been destroyed by fire -- was sold; and the remainder of the congregation, at length a unit in belief and action, have since held their religious services in Kuhn's Hall, with Mr. Walters as pastor.
The third quarterly conference, held March 6th, 1871, appointed a committee to purchase a lot on which to erect a house of worship. A building committee consisting of D. B. Hosbrook, Rev. G. Morgan and J. A. Gregg, were appointed and invested with plenary power to the devise plans and erect a suitable building for the use of the congregation.
By a unanimous vote the same of the church was changed to St. John's M. E. Church, and the leaders' and stewards' meetings, and boards of trustees, were authorized to transact business hereafter under that name.
The purchasing committee has selected a lot on the corner of California and North streets, sixty by ninety-five feet, for which $1,400 was paid, and on which a church is to be built, in the Norman style of architecture, to cost from $13,000 to $15,000. The church is to be completed by the 1st of July, 1871, with the Rev. L. M. Walters, as pastor.
The society, dating from the last schism, is reported to be in a flourishing condition. The present membership numbers about one hundred and forty. The Sabbath-School has one hundred and fifty members.
From Strange Chapel sprung a flourishing local mission enterprise, which has since become the Third Street M. E. Church, elsewhere mentioned.
The following is a list of the pastors who have served Strange Chapel since its organization:
Rev. Wesley Dorsey, Rev. D. Crawford, Rev. Wm. Morrow, Rev. T. G. Beharrell, Rev. Frank Taylor, Rev. E. D. Long, Rev. T. S. Webb, Rev. G. M. Boyd, Rev. Griffith Morgan, Rev. William Graham, Rev. N. L. Brakeman, Rev. J. C. Reed, Rev. James Havens, Rev. J. W. Green, Rev. C. S. Burgner, Rev. G. W. Telle, Rev. J. W. T. McMullen, and Rev. L. M. Walters.
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. 230-231.