In the beginning, way back in the 1920s, Anchor began as the Third Street United Brethren church. It was planted as a mission in a working-class neighborhood northwest of the downtown of Fort Wayne, Ind. The original sanctuary was the big basement, an area we now call the Kids’ Sanctuary. Over the years, the upper level sanctuary was built, along with an extender foyer, and eventually the east end of the church which houses offices and the fellowship hall.
Third Street experienced a lot of very good years, and made a difference in the community and in the lives of scores of people.
However, during the 1980s and 1990s, the congregation grayed significantly, and younger people weren’t coming in. Attendance ran 30-50 people on a typical Sunday, most of them people driving into the neighborhood from outlying areas. The people realized something needed to happen in order for the church to survive and attract new people.
In 1998, an interesting idea arose: close the church, and then reopen it under totally different leadership. That leadership would come from the large Emmanuel United Brethren church, located in southwest Fort Wayne. The Third Street people saw it as a great opportunity, and gladly consented to what was, in effect, a very selfless act: giving up control of the church to which many of them had given their lives, so that it could flourish once again.
Here’s what happened.
About 50 people from Emmanuel agreed to be part of a core group which would “restart” Third Street church. Grand Opening of Anchor in 1998Most made commitments of three or six months, a few indefinitely. Tim Hallman, an intern at Emmanuel, was named pastor of this new church.
Third Street officially closed at the end of May 1998. During the summer, extensive renovations were made to the building–new carpet and paint, replacing the wood pews with cushioned chairs, building a whole new platform, and much more. Then, in October, it reopened with a new name: Anchor Community Church.
The first service was held on October 18, 1998.
Everything was different–the leaders, the style of worship, the music, the appearance of the facility. There were plenty of kids once again. And the people of the neighborhood soon discovered that the red brick church down on the corner was alive and kicking.
Over the next few years, most of those original 50 core-group members returned to Emmanuel or relocated to different towns or states because of work. Only about ten of them remain. But the church has grown significantly, having served hundreds of families in the neighborhood, baptized dozens of people, and made many, many disciples.