Our History

In 1842, Chicago had a population of about 8,000, and the city had no railroads. That same year, sixty miles away, New Church services started being held at the Court House in LaPorte, Indiana. There was no church building at that time.

Seventeen years later, in June, 1859, the LaPorte Society of the New Church was organized, and dedication of their new church took place in September. 

The LaPorte Herald newspaper stated that the services were delivered to “a crowded house.” The cost of the lot and building was under $400 with the church exterior made of simple board and batten siding and plain windows.

Some of LaPorte’s earliest and most influential leaders participated in the mid-1800s, such as James Andrew who helped survey and lay out LaPorte. He and his brother also operated the first sawmill in LaPorte. 

Those familiar with our city will recognize that certain streets were named after early leaders of the town and in the New Church such as Judge John B. Niles, Judge William P. Andrew, Dr. Abraham Teegarden, Ferdinand Roberts and Rev. Henry Weller.

Rev. Weller’s 14-acre property near Stone Lake became known as Weller’s Grove during the second half of the 1800’s. 

Weller’s Grove became a popular destination enjoyed by many throughout the Midwest as a New Church retreat and summer resort area. The original Weller home is still located at 909 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Rev. Frank Gustafson, the seventh pastor, was here from 1908-1911, and during that time the church was stuccoed and remodeled.

The first two decades of the 1900’s saw several renovations of the church. The exterior became stucco and a modern heating system was installed.

There was also the addition of the basement for the Sunday School, kitchen, indoor plumbing, and modern heating.

The current stained glass windows replaced the original windows, and a pipe organ was installed.

Preserving a Gem

The Exterior

The stucco has been repaired and repainted several times due to normal weather and aging conditions but also because the church is located on a busy highway. 

We are always amazed though that we can hardly hear the traffic when we’re inside the sanctuary.


This unique Tiffany-style stained-glass ‘River of Life’ window at the center of our church altar was donated to the church in 1916, by Mr. Emmet Scott and Mrs. Fannie Scott Rumely in memory of their mother. The inscription across the bottom of the window reads “In Memoriam: Mary Relief Niles Scott  1839-1916”.

An interesting side-story here is that the name ‘Relief’ has a long-standing history in her family.  It has been told that her ancestors came to America on the Mayflower and during this trip, a savage storm raged.  One passenger who was an ancestor to Ms. Scott was pregnant and gave birth on the voyage during this storm, at which time the storm immediately dissipated.  The new baby was aptly named “Relief”, and that name has been used throughout many following generations in the Scott family.

It was with much mindful and serious consideration in 2006 that the LaPorte New Church congregation agreed to undergo the huge financial endeavor of restoring this altar window and the two adjacent windows.   The deterioration of the structure of these windows (bowing, mold, old lead) was beginning to seriously compromise their stability. And it was with much faith that we allowed the window to be removed and transported across the Mississippi River to Iowa for this restoration. While it was gone for over five months, we installed a picture of the window, to fit exactly the size of the opening. It is humorous to us that many people had no idea that it was a photographic image rather than the real window!

To date, the church building is still decorated with that same stained-glass window among many others.

The Sanctuary

After nearly 16 decades, the interior walls and barrel ceiling were requiring some serious maintenance. In 2016, it was decided we needed to replaster and repaint the entire sanctuary.  Pews were completely removed, the carpet was covered, the eleven stained glass windows were covered and protected. A fabric mesh was applied over the existing crumbling plaster and a new plaster coating and repainting were accomplished.

There is much history in this church, in the form of memories of those sitting in the pews today who have been a vital part of the church most of their lives, as well as of those departed from this world.  It is so evident that those who went before us cared for this church and this community with warm hands and loving hearts and God in their souls.  They preserved well this building’s structure and spiritual integrity as well as the loving faith, generosity, and usefulness that our theology encourages. 

We ourselves have also done well to preserve and honor the past and to look ahead to future generations.  There is no doubt that people will continue to walk through these chapel doors for the first time and will stop in awe, just as we did our first time, as they take in and really sense the beauty, the serenity, the reverence, the peace, and the God-light radiating not only from this brilliant window, but also from all of those before us who have made this possible for them, and all those here now. We welcome you to walk through these doors as well.


The Prayer Garden

What had been for 150 years a little-used grassy yard next to the church has become a sweet place within the city where anyone can find peaceful solitude, spend prayer-time, have a visit with friends and where children play, or just eat a quick quiet lunch away from the office desk.

In 2009, with the vision for a public garden fulfilled, it has become just what we had hoped it would be. Originally named the Memorial Garden, many also now refer to it as the Prayer Garden or Peace Garden.

In Loving Memory

Daisy Halle, in whose memory this garden was planted, was a devoted and much-loved member who, as her commemorative rock states, had Useful Hands and a Loving Heart.

The garden holds the essence of her quiet soul as people find refuge there within their busy day, some taking time for a few moments to connect with God.

You are most welcome to enjoy this garden in ways that fill you with peace and faith.

Manna House

Located directly adjacent to the church, Manna House became a congregational dream in the mid-1990’s when the owners, the LaPorte Chapter of the American Red Cross, began their search for a new location. In 2002, that dream became reality when the building was purchased by the church, and much sweat equity and loving labor was invested in restoring it to its beautiful 1890’s Arts and Crafts appeal.

To learn more about the history of Manna House and to book it for your use, please click on the button below.

Peace & Worship

Our historic New Church has the distinction of having the longest continuing worshiping congregation on its original site in LaPorte, Indiana.

Many who enter the church for the first or the fiftieth time, comment on its aura of calm, peace, and simple beauty.

We attribute that to the quiet but unmistakable presence of God who has watched over the parishioners throughout the life of the church.

We invite you to enjoy the peace and serenity in our beautiful sanctuary.