The Eras of Acton UMC

Acton United Methodist Church is one of the two oldest churches in Franklin Township.  It was established in 1827, as was the New Bethal Baptist Church.

William and Elizabeth Rector came from Ohio, and settled on the east edge of Franklin Township, near Buck Creek, just north of what was to become Michigan Road, and later State Road 29, then U.S. 421, and now Southeastern Avenue.  Four couples met at the Rector's log home, the Rectors, the Tibbitts, the Waldens, and the Burnetts.  At one point, the land belonged to the late Byron Repass, a realtor, who said that after a light snowfall, one could still see the outline of the Rector's cabin in the cornfield south of his lane.

A short distance away, on land now lying along Indian Creek Road, the first church stood, a log building, erected in 1827, with the cemetery nearby.  Some of the stones from that early cemetery were at that time piled along a fence row.  The land had been converted to home sites and the stones had been removed from their locations and thrown into the nearby creek.  Later retrieved, they were returned to the area.  The remaining stones - a few have disappeared - were moved to the Franklin Township Historical Society grounds for safe-keeping and some have been placed in the church's Bible Garden.

As abstract for the property shows that in December 1846, William and Elizabeth Rector sold their land to Joseph Hamilton, excepting the acre which had been deeded to the Methodist Episcopal Church.  The Rectors moved to Iowa and the church declined.

The Second Era of the church began a few years later when the remaining members decided to relocate a few miles south, in the town of Farmersville, being established along the newly opened rail line to Cincinnati.  The members met in the school house there until 1885 when their first frame building was completed.  In 1853, calling themselves, Farmersville Methodist Society, they held a quarterly meeting in the warehouse of John Daily.  With the town renamed Acton - there was already a Farmersville post office - the church changed its name in 1860 to Acton Methodist Society.

As with many small churches, Acton Church was part of a circuit, one minister serving several churches, traveling from one to another on horseback.  In 1856 there were nine churches on the circuit.  Ten years later, there were four - Acton, Rocklane, London and Canaan.

The frame church served the congregation for 23  years, but was destroyed by fire in 1879.  In 1881 a new brick church was completed.  The bricks were burned by one of the members, Jonas Hamlyn.  He burned the bricks for his own house at the same time.  That house still stands on the west side of Acton Road, just south of Maze Road.  The congregation met in the Acton Baptist Church while their building was being completed.

The building saw good service for almost 40 years.  In the mid-1920s a remodeling project began.  A basement was dug and a furnace installed.  Rooms were added and the outside stuccoed.  The remodeled church was dedicated on April 18, 1926.  The Depression years called for many fund-raising activities to meet the payments and reduce the debt such as fish frys and the food tent at the Marion County Fair.  With determination and sacrificial giving, the debt was paid and the mortgage burned in 1943.

A few highlights of those years include:  In 1953, Acton ended its ties with the London Methodist church and had its own first full-time minister, the Rev. J.V. Bennett.  In 1956, a lot on Virgil Street was purchased for parking, the site of the former Catholic Church.  In 1959, a new parsonage was built on Seminole Drive.  In 1963, the church voted to purchase land for a new building, but added four classrooms and a restroom to their church on Virgil Street.

The Third Era began with the church's 1966 decision to move to their new site on Senour Road.  The March 29, 1967 Easter morning service was the first held on the new site.  The next month, the building began and the church was dedicated in 1969.  After union with the Evangelical United Brethen denomination in 1968, the Acton United Methodist Church became the Acton U.M. Church.

The congregation worshiped in what is now the Fellowship Hall for 20 years.  The Church sanctuary was completed in 1991 with  much volunteer labor from the congregation.  The Hook & Hastings organ, the custodianship of which was given to the church in 1983, was moved into the sanctuary.

The completion of the sanctuary could be considered the beginning of the Fourth Era in the history of Acton Church.  Lay leadership is emphasized, a Preschool is in operation, and a United Methodist Women's Group has been restarted.  Various Leadership Teams promote missions, children's and youth programs, and there are several Bible Study groups.  Sunday morning worship is "Traditional" on one Sunday, "Contemporary" on the next.  "Marion County's Biggest Garage Sale" has been held annually since 1995 and the Acton Craft Fair since 1998.

But it is still the members of the Acton United Methodist Church who perhaps best express its purpose by their concern for and support of one another, and, trusting in God's guidance, dedicate themselves to the values and goals of the Christian life.

Written by Sylvia Hendricks
(presented at worship service on Sunday, February 29, 2006 and updated for website in June, 2012)

The Historic Hook & Hastings ORgan

The Hook & Hastings Tracker Pipe Organ in the Sanctuary of the Acton United Methodist Church, 5650 Senour Road, Indianapolis, is an instrument remarkable for the quality of its sound, its workmanship, its beauty, and its history.

Built by the Hook & Hastings Company of Boston, Massachusetts, about 1888, the organ was installed in the Fletcher Place Methodist Episcopal Church, Virginia Avenue, Indianapolis, in 1895.  It has two manuals and pedal, 11 ranks and 595 pipes.  The Hook & Hastings Company, considered one of the best organ builders during the period 1865-1900, was noted for its extraordinary careful workmanship.  The last major production of tracker organs was about 1932.  (Tracker action, which refers to the mechanical connection of the keys to the air valves at the pipes, was the traditional method of organ building until the introduction of electric circuitry in the 1930s.  Tracker organs are still highly esteems by many musicians.)

After the Fletcher Place Church closed in June 1981, the Acton Church, under the guidance of their minister, Rev. Joe Bottorff, initiated preliminary discussions withe the Southeast Indiana Conference (now the Indianapolis East District of the South Indiana Conference) to see if our church could gain custodianship of the organ.  Early in 1984 a Pipe Organ Committee was formed and charged with the responsibility of bringing the dream to reality.  The Conference granted permission for the project.

A financial campaign was begun with a $5,000 gift by Ernest East in memory of Glenn E. Dooley.  The Cave Organ Service of Indianapolis was contracted to dismantle, restore and install the organ for a cost of $16,000.  During late 1984 and early 1985 the organ was reassembled in what was then the Sanctuary of Acton Church (now Fellowship Hall).  The congregation eagerly awaited the completion of the project, starting with the change in the configuration of the Sanctuary to accommodate the organ.  Sunday after Sunday, more of the organ began to appear, until finally on Sunday, May 26 all the pipes were in place.

The organ was dedicated at the morning service, Sunday, June 9, 1985.  The Rev. David V. W. Owen led the service, with the Chancel, Chorister and Cherub Choirs, and the Adult Hand Bell Choir participating.  Margy Yoke was the Choir Diection, and Evelyn Lowes the Organist.

Leroy Compton, Chairman of the Restoration Committee, spoke to the congregation:  "On behalf of the Organ Restoration Committee, I present to you this Hook & Hastings Tracker Organ in honor of the people of Fletcher Place United Methodist Church, in loving memory of Mr. Glenn E. Dooley, and on behalf of the many members of this Church who have given to this project.  May this beautiful instrument be dedicated to the glory of Almighty God and the service of Christ in this Church."  The Dedication Anthem was "Great and Glorious" by Haydn.  The Organ Committee was composed of Leroy Compton, Ernest East, Don Freriks, Darryl Huter, Al Irwin, Ronald Jennings, and Rev. David Owen.

That afternoon, a concert was given by Organists Rev. Robert A. Schilling, M.S.M., A.A.G.O., and Kurt Van Shakel.  Also featured were Trumpeter David Baker, Organist Evelyn Lowes, and the Hand Bell Choir directed by Marjorie Young.

A second concert was held on Sunday, December 8, 1985, and third on Sunday, May 4, 1986.  At that time the Organ Committee consisted of Leroy Compton, Margie DeWell, Ernest East, Ronald Jennings, Barabar Koertge, Carl Thayer, Sandy Thayer, James Yoke, and Margy Yoke.

With the completion of the church's new Sanctuary in early 1991, the organ was again dismantled, and moved by the Care Organ Company to its permanent location as the focal point of the Sanctuary.  The dedication service for the Sanctuary was held on Sunday, March 31, 1991.

Church organists who have played this instrument include Louise Mitchell, Marty Frank (1985-1993), Jennifer Bean (1993-1997), and Margie DeWell.  Robert J. Maze has been the Organist since September 1997.

February 1998

Text by Slyvia Hendricks

Our Pastors

The Pastors that have served at AUMC.

  • Matthew Stultz 2015-present
  • Mac Hamon 2012-2015
  • Rick Bell (3 mo.) 2012
  • Vicki Hobbs 2007-2012
  • David Cummings 2003-2007
  • Anne Meyer, Diaconal Minister, 1999-2008
  • Stephen Cherry 1996-2003
  • Yvonne Adkins 1994-1997
  • John Wantz 1991-1996
  • David V.W. Owen 1984-1991
  • Joe Bottorff 1980-1984
  • Larry R. Schwartz 1975-1980
  • Jack P. Miller 1970-1975
  • James E. Gentry 1965-1970
  • Philip D. Mercer 1963-1965
  • Charles Armstrong 1958-1963
  • W.A. Nighswonger 1955-1957
  • J.V. Bennett 1953-1954
  • C.H. Allison 1952-1953
  • George Dinwitte 1950-1951
  • C.R. Killion 1947-1949
  • J.E. Cheney 1946
  • W.H. Thompson 1943-1945
  • E.G. Jann 1939-1942
  • Ralph Crider 1934-1935
  • C.L. Hughbanks 1931-1933
  • J.W. Trowbridge 1928-1930
  • N.F. Wolfgan 1927
  • W.R. Ryland 1925-1926
  • L.N. Abel 1923-1924
  • Walter Wright 1923
  • Ray H. Kelley 1921-1922
  • C.T. Alexander 1920
  • H.D. Sterrett 1919
  • W.R. Ashby 1916-1918
  • D.W. Denny 1915
  • W.D. Woods 1911-1914
  • C.E. Miars 1910
  • H.A. Davis (11 mo.) 1909
  • T.B. Wilbur (1 mo.) 1909
  • G.E. Garrison 1907-1908
  • J.D. Croan (6 mo.) 1906
  • E.A. Hartman (4 mo.) 1906
  • M.S. Brown 1904-1905
  • Martin S. Brown (9 mo.) 1903
  • C.S. Risley (3 mo.) 1903
  • D.A. Robertson 1902
  • S.W. Troyer 1901
  • A.L. Young 1898-1900
  • C.W. Maupin 1897
  • J.L. Sims 1895-1896
  • W.O. Wykoff 1894
  • T.D. Hall 1891-1893
  • J.C. Lewis (2 mo.) 1890
  • James Hughes 1889
  • George Murphy 1888
  • James Huges 1887
  • W.H. Burton 1886
  • Alex Jemison 1885
  • L.M. Jordan 1884
  • Albert Cain 1882-1883
  • R.S. Kinear 1881
  • William Nicols 1879-1880
  • T.S. Cook 1877-1878
  • E.S. Spencer 1875-1876
  • F.S. Turk 1873-1874
  • Thomas W. Jones 1871-1872
  • B.F. Morgan 1870
  • Henry Wright 1869
  • A.H. Reat 1868
  • J.K. Tomlinson 1867
  • A. Lotten 1865-1866
  • M. Mitchell 1864
  • Robert Roberts 1862-1863
  • F.S. Potts 1861
  • Elijah Whitten 1860
  • Patrick Carland 1859
  • W.G. Ransdall 1858
  • John Brouse & Thomas Gray 1857
  • John V. Miller 1856
  • Thomas Ray 1854-1855
  • George Havens 1853

Bible Garden Cross

The 1.5 ton steel cross in our Bible Garden was erected in 1970 in honor of Dale Fulk,  who was killed in the line of duty on September 11, 1969.  In the spring of 2021, strong winds toppled the cross.  It caused no damage to the near by building, and laid perfectly back into the garden.  One of our scouts from B.S.A. Troop 219, Madison Hulskotter, saw the cross laying down in the flowers and knew she had found her Eagle Scout project.  She worked with Trustees for approval and designs and with many hours of work, the cross was restored on July 2, 2021.