Light of the World Christian Church was the first African American Christian Church (Disciples Of Christ) in Indianapolis. The Central Christian congregation, a predominately white fellowship, sponsored a missionary church and school for their “African brethren” in 1866. This school and congregation originally met in a building at what was then Second Street and soon became known as Second Christian Church. In 1867, the church received its first full-time minister. During the remainder of the 19th century, however, the nascent congregation was often without a pastor, the tiny membership fluctuated greatly, and the church moved several times.

The Second Christian Church located on Second Street in the Ransom Place Neighborhood, ca. 1913
Credit: Bass Photo Co Collection, Indiana Historical Society

Second Christian experienced a rebirth when Rev. H. L. Herod became pastor in 1898. During his 37-year pastorate, Herod encouraged members to value education and take active leadership roles in the African American community. He organized the National Christian Missionary Convention to teach African Americans how to be leaders. During this time, the 375-member congregation became known as the elite church of the Black community in Indianapolis.

Rev. R. H. Peoples became pastor of Second Christian in 1943 and ushered in an era of social Ministry. The church moved to a former white Christian church at 29th Street and Kenwood Avenue in 1948, enlarged its staff, and expanded its philanthropic and community outreach programs. It remained predominantly nonwhite, drawing its 800 African American members from throughout the Indianapolis area.

Ladies of the Light of the World Christian Church, 1984
Credit: Indianapolis Recorder Collection, Indiana Historical Society

Dr. T. Garrott Benjamin succeeded Peoples in the pastorate in 1969 through 2012. A dynamic evangelist, he spurred phenomenal growth and national interest. Throughout the 1970s the congregation was recognized as one of the largest and fastest-growing Disciples of Christ. It purchased its current facilities at 5640 East 38th Street in 1982 and changed its name to Light of the World Christian Church in 1984 to accommodate its 3,000-member, evangelistic congregation. The church began a local cable television ministry in 1986 named Heaven on Earth Ministries. By 1988 this ministry was broadcast nationally and reached over 35 million viewers. In 2002, the church moved to new facilities at 4646 N. Michigan Road.

In August 2019 Pastor R. Janae Pitts-Murdock began as Intermin Senior Pastor at Light of the World Christian Church. In November 2020 the church elected Pastor Janae to be its sixth Senior Pastor and first female Senior Pastor in its 154-year history.

The church also provides many community and youth programs including prison ministry, a food bank, bible school, and a community garden.

Revised July 2021
 

Help improve this entry

Contribute information, offer corrections, suggest images.

You can also recommend new entries related to this topic.