In the early months of the year 2000, Pastor Rich Schmidt began meeting with a small group of people from Real Life Community Church to dream with them about a new kind of church for the Valparaiso area.
They dreamed of a church that focused less on its own needs and more on the needs of others. A church where people could just be themselves and be honest about their joys and their struggles. A church where spiritual seekers could safely investigate the challenging message of Jesus Christ. A church where Christ-followers would continually grow in their love for God and in their loving service to those in need.
More than anything, the dreamed that this church might be a bridge between their loving heavenly Father and people who were far from him. People who had never heard of the freedom and forgiveness that are found in a relationship with Jesus. People who had been burned by bad experiences with churches in the past. People who were spiritually hungry but would never think of going to church to find the kind of nourishment their souls needed. And people who had just drifted away. “A church for the unchurched.” That was the kind of church they hoped to become.
On September 17, 2000, the dream became a reality. With support from their parent church, they rented the Aberdeen Manor and welcomed the community to their Grand Opening celebration. Growing steadily, the church soon became financially self-sufficient, and by summer they had begun to add additional staff to guide the growing mix of believers, seekers, and friends.
One of the first staff additions was Dan Martin, a volunteer with the kids ministry who had helped start the church and now felt God calling him away from the steel mill toward full-time church work. As Dan’s preaching and leadership gifts developed, he grew from kids director to associate pastor, and in the summer of 2004, God tapped him to lead the charge in starting our first daughter church. In January 2005, he and his family and a small team moved to Washington state to begin Story Point Community Church. Today, they are a thriving young church making a great impact on their community.
In August, 2009, we moved out of the Sunday-only banquet hall into rented 24/7 ministry space at 1155 Marsh St (behind Harley Davidson on Hwy 30). Having space of our own opened up new ministry opportunities, including joining the coalition of churches that make up the Open Arms women’s shelter. We house 6-10 homeless women every Sunday night from Oct. 15 to Apr. 15, something we just couldn’t do without 24/7 ministry space.
In mid-2013, as we entered the final year of our 5-year lease, we realized that it was time to move from renting to owning. We finally settled on a building in the heart of Valparaiso, at 1115 Calumet Ave, which we purchased in mid-2014. This building had once been part of another church’s property before becoming a lighting store, a martial arts academy, and who knows what else. After extensive renovations (which continue still), we’re excited to begin worshiping there on Sunday, Aug. 31.
As we approach our 14th birthday this Sept. 14, we are thankful that God has helped us become the church we dreamed about, and we are excited about the future he has in store for us. Who knows? Perhaps that future includes you…
1115 Calumet Ave.
Valparaiso, IN 46383
(across from Old Fairgrounds Park between Evans & Harrison)
Come As You Are
If there’s one place where you can take off the mask, let down your guard, and just be yourself, it’s church: a community of grace, where nobody is perfect and everybody depends on the help of God and each other to live better each day than the day before.
If that sounds good to you, we invite you to come check it out.