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The Journey of Plainfield Christian Church

February 29, 2024 | Bob Boswell

It was just a few days after joining the staff of PCC on February 2, 1979 that I was asked to go into the sanctuary and pose with another staff member for a newspaper photo. On the back wall of the choir loft, a large display of a cross had been created which would serve as the backdrop for the photo. The occasion was the upcoming 150th Anniversary Celebration of the establishment of Plainfield Christian Church on March 29, 1829.

Maybe because I was so new to the church and the area, the significance of that picture and the festivities that followed in March never struck a chord with me. And even after experiencing several years of homecoming celebrations with readings of our history, it still didn’t register just how unique our story was.

From growing up in a Christian Church preacher’s home and with a bible college education, I was well aware of the history of the Restoration Movement which began early in 1801. I had even visited the site of the Cane Ridge revival in Kentucky where the fires of restoration were ignited. What I hadn’t thought about was the timing of it all and how our charter members might have developed their faith story. So here’s a look at the journey of our church.


  • 17 charter members established our congregation on March 29, 1829. They were comprised of 9 families, mostly related by blood or by marriage: John & Edith Hadley, Jonathon & Ara Hadley, Ezekiel & Sarah Hornaday, Hiram & Lydia Hornaday, Abijah & Sarah Cox, David & Elizabeth Cox, David & Ruth Carter, Hiram & Polly Green, & Alexander Shawyer.

  • Most came from North Carolina during the Quaker migration which followed the trail blazed by Daniel Boone as the western territories were acquired. Their journey which began in 1811, brought them here to this area in 1822. (For 10 years they established themselves in Preble County, OH, then were drawn by the land opportunities that had recently opened in Indiana.)

  • They began meeting together in 1825 with an itinerant pioneer preacher, Michael Combs,
    and in 1829 formally established our congregation. In the formative days they met in homes or, if weather permitted, under a grove of trees until a primitive log cabin could be built to house the church. It rested on large stones and was erected with hand-hewn logs, covered with clapboards and contained a massive fireplace to accommodate large logs. (The original site is now a residence but is located at the highest point of Ridgeline Estates.

  • The town of Plainfield wasn’t established until 1839, ten years after the church was established.
    In 1840 a “capacious” wooden building was built on property given by David Carter at the corner of Krewson and Center Streets. It served the needs of the church for over 25 years and was then moved to Main Street where it was used for commercial endeavors.

  • On the same site a brick building was erected in 1865 with bricks made by the church members. During the 90 years it was our church home, it was renovated several times, an annex was added, then a basement was dug in 1923 to provide extra classrooms and fellowship facilities. It still stands today and has housed several congregations, businesses, and is currently under renovation.

  • In 1954, on the same day of our 125th Anniversary Celebration, a Ground-Breaking service was conducted at the corner of Buchanan & Masten Streets to construct a Bedford-stone building to house our growing congregation. The Buchanan Street building held its first service on Palm Sunday, March 27, 1955. Upon continued growth, a house next to the church was purchased for additional classrooms and youth activities. That house was later moved to make room for an educational complex added in 1972.

  • By 1989, with three worship services and crowded conditions, it was determined that the church needed to move once again. Fourteen acres were purchased and the church enjoyed a rare combined service held at Plainfield High School on March 7, 1993. From the school the congregation traveled to 800 Dan Jones Road for a special Ground-Breaking service. Construction began that spring and was completed in the summer of 1994 with the first service held on August 7. The church experienced rapid growth and by 1999 plans were executed to add a major addition to the facilities. This expansion provided additional classroms, the Fellowship Center, an office complex, new kitchen, library, chapel and in 2000, the original Dan Jones mortgage was burned.

  • After the addition was completed, our Plainfield Christian Church Preschool was established in the fall of 2003. In 2006 the church was able to purchase the adjacent north property which now is home to our Student Center: Pier 14, the Mission House, and out-buildings. The most recent addition, our Children’s Center which opened in 2014, has provided much-needed space and has proven to be a tremendous opportunity to reach the community.

So far this has been a story of buildings and locations—important milestones in the life of any congregation—but not necessarily what drew me into pursuit of our church’s history. When I realized how early in the life of the Restoration Movement our church was founded, I needed to find out how our charter members came to the convictions of their faith. I wondered what motivated a group of believers, some of Quaker heritage, to arrive in this area of Indiana which was largely being settled by Quakers, then find their own spiritual journey on a different path. There were no specific answers to my questions, but I arrived at some reasonable assumptions.

The Quaker migration, as I understand it, was motivated by crowded conditions in North Carolina 
with large families needing land, and perhaps more importantly, the aversion to slavery. It’s easy to assume that our charter members were a part of these pursuits as well. We do know that the patriarch of the Hadley clan, Jeremiah, had lost his Quaker birthright when he married his wife, Mary Hornaday who was “outside of the faith”. As the extended family followed the Daniel Boone trail, they would’ve journeyed near Cane Ridge, KY not too long after restoration fires had been ignited in 1801.

The route took them to Preble County, OH where they settled for ten years. Apparently they reunited with friends there and romances developed between offsprings of several families resulting later in marriages. But more importantly, it seems that spiritually they were exposed to the restoration teachings of preachers in the area that were establishing churches. At this point of history, the restoration movement was like several streams of water flowing toward an eventual river that would become known as Disciples of Christ, Christian, and Churches of Christ.

When Indiana territory was purchased and land was available, our charter families moved into this area. Indianapolis had been their goal, but an outbreak of typhoid in the town of 200 took them 20 miles further into Hendricks County. The year was 1822.

Not long after two brothers, Michael and Job Combs, also settled in this region from Preble County. They had come to Christ in Ohio under the preaching of David Purviance who had established many churches there. Upon the Combs’ arrival in Indiana they started holding preaching meetings and in 1825 organized meetings with our families. The first was in the home of John and Edith Hadley. As a result, our congregation was formally established on Sunday, March 29, 1829 assembling in the home of Ezekiel and Sarah Hornaday. John Hadley was appointed the first elder with Abijah Cox and Jonathon Hadley appointed as deacons.

Our congregation was the first of the Christian Churches in Hendricks County and the first church building to be built in the area of Plainfield. It’s also important to note that members from our church were instrumental in establishing other congregations in the surrounding area. One influential man should be especially mentioned.

Thomas Lockhart, one of the earliest settlers here, was immersed into Christ at Plainfield in 1832.
He was the county’s first commissioner and the Sunday after his conversion began preaching the gospel. He teamed up with John Hadley on many preaching tours and was greatly responsible for the establishment of Christian Churches in several counties. During his 50 years of Christian service, Lockhart planted around 100 churches and converted nearly 6,000 souls.

Perhaps it is interesting to note that it wasn’t until 1910 that the church called its first full-time minister. For 91 years the preaching was provided by itinerate preachers, church members, and students from Northwestern Christian University (now Butler University’s School of Religion) established in 1855. It’s possible that for a time the church just met every other week.

As the streams of the restoration movement converged, our church was considered a part of the Disciples of Christ portion. Not a lot is mentioned about that because in the earlier days of the movement in this region all of the Christian Churches were. But just as in any movement there are variances in stances and views, so it was with the Disciples. By the 1950s those differences became major stumbling blocks and Christian Churches were given the option to pull away, which we did.

Plainfield Christian Church has been my home for 45 years and I still marvel at how it has survived and flourished. I’m so grateful for the faith of those 17 charter members and their willingness to embrace their faith and help fan the flame of the gospel in this part of the world. They forged on through pioneer-related struggles, stood firm amid family faith disputes, and sacrificed much to keep the church alive.

I love this church and am deeply grateful for those who’ve gone before us and to our Gad who has faithfully sustained, protected, and directed His people here in this place. And the thing is...history is us. What we accomplish now and in years to come is the continuing story of Plainfield Christian Church. What a privilege that is!


Sunday Services at 7:45am; 9:15am; 10:45am
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Plainfield Christian Church

800 Dan Jones Rd | Plainfield, Indiana 46168