At the anniversary celebration, leaders past and present were in attendance.
The official anniversary was on January 1, 2021; however due to Covid, the services were postponed until later in the year.
Throughout the service memories were shared of God's leading from the humble beginnings of five church leaders who met in members’ homes. The church gradually grew through numerous evangelistic crusades held throughout the city of Hammond.
Longtime member Barbara Bough recounted around the late 1930’s a portable schoolhouse was purchased and moved to the church’s first location at 620 Spruce St.
From 1947-1974 the church went through various renovations until it was destroyed by fire in 1984. Bough sighted “many were saddened by the loss but it was a blessing in disguise.”
Over the century the church was blessed with almost 40 pastors. One of those in attendance was Lake Union General Vice President, Carmelo Mercado. Hammond was a part of the first district he pastored after graduating from the Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University. Mercado recalled how grateful he was for the members patience at the time, noting “they were very instrumental in helping me learn how to pastor a church.”
During his twelve-year tenure from 1976-1988, Mercado “loved the adventurous spirit of the members.” They continued in the church’s rich soul-winning heritage throughout the city of Hammond, actively involved in Vacation Bible School, cooking and stop-smoking classes and Revelation seminars.
In a partnership with the Woodmar shopping mall they were able to provide two health screening for over 600 people. “The mall was so impressed, that even though we didn’t ask for money, they went ahead and paid for the expenses. “If there was an opportunity for witnessing,” said Mercado, “the church would grab hold of it and God would bless.”
After the fire in 1984 it would not be until September 1, 1996 before the church would hold service in its newly constructed facility at 6910 Walnut Avenue, its present location.
Dr. Allen Shepherd was the second longest tenure pastor from 2003-2015 and during the 100th anniversary service, he shared his appreciation for the patience of the members as he, too, was serving in his first church and had to learn his way through his new role.
Under Shepherd’s leadership the Pathfinder and Adventurer clubs were reestablished and still thrives today with new families that have come into the church. He pastored for 12 years before retiring. “Whenever I come back,” he said, “it’s just like being with family…and it’s a very nice thing to be a part of the family of God.”
In 2018, a spark was ignited in Hammond unlike no other in the past 20 years. For the first time, members embraced incorporating the evangelism cycle in preparation the fall Revelation evangelism series that ran from October-December, in which Indiana Conference Evangelist Erik Freking was the speaker. Over 100 people came through the doors over the course of the series. Charles Wallen along with his wife Isabel, were among them.
The Wallens had visited Hammond a few times prior to the series, but Charles was a bit skeptical based on past experiences at another church. “The series drew me, but it was the fellowship from the members that kept me,” said Charles. He sensed the presence of the Holy Spirit and allowed Him to take hold.
In 2019, Ovid Radulescu became the new pastor in the two-church district of Hammond and Northwest in Crown Point, Ind. With a true heart for evangelism, he was a perfect choice to move both churches forward in their outreach endeavors.
During the 100th anniversary, Ovid shared a moving testimony of a divine appointment at the entrance of Best Buy with a young mother. Three months prior to this meeting, she had suddenly stopped doing Bible studies. It turns out this encounter was an answer to her prayers. “God gave her a sign, and unmistakable sign,” said Ovid, “that her pastor and this church wants her here. This is the second time she asked for a sign and she got it.” She is now preparing for baptism later in October.
This encounter demonstrates the mission of the church, in that we are called by God to go and do something for someone. Yes, we’ve done 100 years of mission, but the best is yet to come.
Indiana Conference President Vic Van Schaik was the main speaker of the day with his message entitled “The Master’s Methods” based on Matthew 5:13-16. Van Schaik emphasized our mission. We come not to just be blessed “but to be a blessing.”
The Holy Spirit inspired a message to encourage the members to remain steadfast in the mission that was established back in 1996: to proclaim the Three Angels Message to every person within the reach of the members’ voice and influence, to let their light shine by meeting the needs of the multi-cultural members, to be a place of hope and healing, where the love of Christ can be experienced.
Another special part of the centennial anniversary was the 100th birthday celebration of long-time member and church elder, MaryEtta Johnson, with a luncheon and birthday party after the church’s regular service on Saturday, September 11.
Relatives traveled from as far away as Louisiana to attend the celebration honoring the life and accomplishments of the new centurion. MaryEtta has been an elder at the Hammond Church over 20 years and was previously a Sabbath School leader at the Bethel Church in East Chicago.
Doranita Tyler is elder and Personal Ministry leader of Hammond Church.