At Meridian Street, we have a vision and mission statement, but it’s our Statement of Inclusion that makes our congregation unique. Meridian Street is a large extended family of believers who share in a long history of mission and ministry in the Indianapolis area and far beyond. We honor our deep roots within the United Methodist tradition as well as our unique experience of God as a vibrant community of faith.
At Meridian Street:
You are loved and welcomed here.
You can lead and serve here.
You can love and marry here.
Through Christ we seek to grow in faith as we serve, love and share God's unexpected grace.
and growing in the
fruit of the spirit.
…”there has never been a time when the church now known as
Meridian Street United Methodist Church has not been a significant presence in the religious life of Indianapolis.” – Daniel F. Evans Sr.
As old as Indianapolis itself.
Meridian Street United Methodist Church was the first Methodist church in a town of log cabins and rutted roads. That first church in the city of Indianapolis in 1821 was known as Wesley Chapel. The congregation first met in Isaac Wilson’s log cabin on the Capitol Square grounds and was served by itinerant preachers. In 1825, a log cabin on Maryland at Meridian Street was purchased and enlarged to seat 200 people. It continued to be served by circuit riders. From 1829 to 1846, the congregation met in a small brick building on the Circle at Meridian Street. In 1846 the Wesley Chapel was torn down and a new church was built on the same site at a cost of $10,000; it housed the congregation during the Civil War and until 1869.
After the war, the congregation decided to build “the most beautiful church in the city.” They moved to New York and Meridian Streets and built an ornate Gothic structure with tall, slender spires for $100,000. This building served as their church home until a fire burned the church beyond repair in 1904. It was during this time that Wesley Chapel was renamed Meridian Street Episcopal Church.
On the national level, the Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1784. In 1939, the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church South, and the Methodist Protestant Church merged to become The Methodist Church. When The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church formally united in 1968, the currently used name was adopted: The United Methodist Church.
For two years, from 1904 to 1906, the congregation met at the Propyleum on University Park while they built another Gothic building at St. Clair and Meridian Street. This structure cost $165,000 and housed the congregation for 40 years until 1946.
In 1946, Meridian Street Methodist merged with the 51st Street Methodist Church and met in the 51st Street building until the $525,000 necessary to build the present home at 5500 North Meridian Street was raised. The first service in the Colonial-Georgian style building was June 29, 1952, with Dr. Logan Hall preaching. In 2002, we celebrated our presence at 5500 North Meridian with a series of 50th Anniversary events.
A large addition, known as the Aldersgate Addition, was begun in 1988 just before the senior pastor, Dr. Richard Lancaster, retired after 25 years at Meridian Street. The addition was to improve the church’s physical facilities, update the building, and add more classroom, office and meeting space.
Ministry and Mission
Local Ministry. Meridian Street UMC is committed to the Meridian Kessler and Butler Tarkington neighborhoods, investing its resources in making the community a safe, loving place for all. The congregation’s service to community continues to produce fruit through ministry to all persons. The children’s ministry is designed to help children experience the love of Jesus through study and play. Youth ministries allow the youth to wrestle with their faith in a loving, caring environment. Adult studies offered on Sunday morning and throughout the week give members an opportunity for exploration and discussion. The overarching goal is to help all persons to find their ministry and serve Jesus Christ.
Meridian Street UMC is proud to be a founding congregation of Family Promise and Soup’s On at Roberts Park UMC. Other local partners include Habitat for Humanity and food pantries at Fletcher Place and Boulevard Place. The congregation’s newest partnerships are with the Martin Luther King Community Center, School 43 and Project Transformation. All three of these partnerships include mentoring or reading to children in the Meridian-Kessler and Butler-Tarkington neighborhoods. Court watchers from our congregation show up in courtrooms throughout central Indiana, bearing witness to the experience of eviction. Many members of the congregation take part in Meridian Street UMC’s annual Day of Service, which takes place at multiple sites across Indianapolis.
Meridian Street UMC shares its facilities with a number of other community organizations including three community choirs.
Ministry Beyond our Community. Meridian Street UMC has provided resources to serve the world. In addition to financial support, the congregation has sent teams to the Fairfield Children’s Orphanage in Zimbabwe, Andean Rural Health Care in Bolivia, Mission Guatemala and REHACE in Puerto Rico, to name a few. Additional missionary service has taken place in the southwestern United States, Alaska, and Russia. Youth have provided services to residents of Appalachia.
Celebrating Our History
Meridian Street UMC celebrated its 175th Anniversary in 1996. Long-time member, Daniel F. Evans, wrote At Home in Indiana for One Hundred and Seventy-Five Years: A Comprehensive History of Meridian Street UMC. Evans wrote:
[Our church’s] voice and influence through [its] long history has ebbed and flowed, but there has never been a time when the church now known as Meridian Street United Methodist Church has not been a significant presence in the religious life of Indianapolis. And there has never been a time when its minister and members have not sought to preach and practice that linkage of the heart and head that from John Wesley’s day to our day has been characteristic of Methodism at its best."
And in 2021, the congregation celebrated 200 years of worship and service. In spite of the COVID pandemic, celebratory events were held throughout the year, culminating with a banquet at Meridian Hills Country Club. Members and friends of the congregation attended, including Mayor Joe Hogsett. Andrea Neal and Jason Lantzer wrote Great is Thy Faithfulness: A Bicentennial History of Meridian Street Methodist Church, which chronicles two centuries of worship and ministry.