Our mission and ministry:
Our mission is to live as a family of active faith through Christian worship, study, fellowship, and service, for the glory of God.
- Christian worship...is at the center of all that we do! In coming together each Sunday morning, we are nourished by the Word of God and through the gathering of the body of Christ, made up of friends old and new. In worship, we encounter forgiveness and hope; we absorb the challenge and the promise of God's Word; and we leave strengthened, ready to live as Christ's disciples until we come together again.
- Study...is an important part of our spiritual growth. Whether learning through engaging, Scripturally-sound sermons, setting aside time for personal Bible study and devotion, or coming together in small groups to study Scripture or learn about spiritual practices, we believe that deepening our faith through learning is worthy of our time, care, and attention.
- Fellowship...gives vibrancy to our life together. We take seriously that the church is the Body of Christ. Just as Paul reminded the Corinthians, when we are together, "God's Spirit dwells in us." From sharing snacks and conversation after worship each Sunday, to getting together for dinner and other congregational and community events, we enjoy coming together as a family of faith, and welcoming others into that family.
- Service...is fundamental to who we are as Christ's disciples. We seek to be the hands and feet of Jesus to each other, to our community, and to the world. This takes place through hands-on acts of service and caring, as well as by holding special events and fundraisers which allow us to offer financial support to other partner organizations who are faithfully doing God's work.
Rev. Madison VanVeelen
Pastor Madison was called to Clayton Presbyterian Church in August 2016, after having served for two years as a Lake Fellow in Parish Ministry at Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, IN. Madison's training for ministry included three years of graduate-level studies at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, as well as a chaplaincy internship at the University of Louisville Hospital. Madison graduated with the Master of Divinity degree in 2014, also earning the Melanie Lane Preaching Prize. Her goal in ministry (and in life) is to cultivate relationship with God and with others with openness, joy, and curiosity.
Madison grew up in Ocala, Florida, and prior to attending seminary spent a year of mission service as a PC(USA) Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) in Kerala, India. She has a deep love for the church and for the beautiful world that God has created, and currently lives in Indianapolis with her husband, Eric, and their two mischievous dogs, Kiba and Munchie.
Elders of the Church
Congregations of the Presbyterian Church (USA) are governed by presbyters, or elders, who meet regularly to discuss and make decisions regarding the life of the church.
Currently Serving Elders
- Debbie Baynes
- John Marlowe
- J.B. Edmondson
- Stacy Lanphier
- Judy Breneman
- Wayne MacPherson
Clerk of Session: Dawn West
Treasurer: Ken Edmondson
MINISTER OF MUSIC
Clayton Presbyterian Church is blessed by a wonderful music program, fearlessly led by Minister of Music Jan Smith. Jan lives in Indianapolis with her husband, Rick. She gathers the all-volunteer choir each Thursday for practice for the upcoming Sunday. Together, they enrich the congregation's worship by leading us in a variety of special music and traditional hymns. One of Jan's biggest feats each year is the annual Christmas Cantata, when the wider community comes together to hear the Christmas story in song. In these ways and more, Jan's leadership allows us to use music to celebrate, to console, to encourage, and to enlighten.
180 years...and counting!
The history of our church is the story of hundreds of faithful men, women, and children who have lived their faith in Jesus Christ and shared their gifts to create a church that continues to thrive. We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who continue to inspire our mission and ministry today.
Our Clayton Presbyterian roots come from the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Following the Revolutionary War as our nation began to expand beyond the Appalachian Mountains, the Cumberland Presbytery in the Synod of Kentucky saw a need to bring the message of Christ to the new settlers. Missionaries from the south traveled north to proclaim the gospel, and their efforts led them to Indiana, a new state being settled.
In 1831 in the town of Belleville a group of Cumberland Presbyterians began gathering for worship in a private home. Andrew Jackson was President of the United States, and Indiana had been a state for just fifteen years. The town of Clayton did not yet exist. In 1833 the Wabash Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church officially recognized our church as the Cumberland Presbyterian Church of Liberty Township. Alexander C. Downey, a pioneer missionary from Kentucky, was the organizing pastor.
The congregation continued to worship in members' homes and in the Belleville school house. By 1841 when thirty-two people were recorded as members, the congregation was called the Belleville Cumberland Presbyterian Church. On March 15, 1846, they began meeting in the Mitchell District School House two miles west of Belleville, just south of the National Road (U.S. 40).
In 1851, when the town of Clayton (first called Claysville) was laid out, the congregation built its first church on land donated by Richard Worrell. Thinking the town would grow south, the building was built by Frederick Hopwood for a cost of $600 on the east side of the Clayton-Hazelwood Road, facing west, on the south edge of town. It had bare floors, was heated by two wood stoves, had a four foot divider down the middle to separate the men from the women and children, and the benches were made out of eight-inch planks for the seats and the backs.
In 1869 the first organ in the county was purchased for $300. The money was raised by chartering a railroad car and running an excursion to Marshall, Illinois.
In 1872 the church moved to the south side of Tennessee Street. Men sat on the east side, and the women and children on the west. Two new box wood stoves, two great chandeliers each holding three coal-oil lamps, a very fancy lamp over the pulpit, and a new pulpit and pews were added. The church was made available to other congregations in the area for their use during the next thirty years.
In 1901 ground was broken for a new sanctuary at our present site, the corner of Michigan and Pennsylvania. The church cost over $5,000 and was paid for in full on the day of dedication, February 2, 1902. The children of the church made their contribution by collecting used medicine bottles which they washed and sold for one or two cents each. People of the town also helped in the building project. In 1910 the church was raised to create a basement beneath it.
A major crisis arose when the church building was destroyed by fire on December 23, 1944. The elders of the church met that same day, and Christmas services were held the next day in the Clayton school where the congregation continued to meet until new facilities could be erected. At the suggestion of Ruth Martin Edmondson, the slogan of the church became: "From the ashes we shall arise."
Ground was broken for our present building in 1946, but with the end of World War II, the cost of building materials soared. Volunteer labor was given to help dig the basement; rock had to be blasted. Money was raised by contributions, fish fries, the proceeds from the men of the church farming forty acres of land, plus $25,000 insurance money. Still it was not enough - only the basement and back part of the church were completed, with the first worship service held in the basement on September 4, 1948.
In August 1953, another Building Committee was formed to build the sanctuary. On October 6, 1955, the new sanctuary was dedicated, and the total cost of the new church starting from 1946 was over $100,000.
In the years since, our beautiful building has been carefully maintained, and has undergone many improvements inside and outside. Land for a parking lot was acquired across the street, and a manse has both come and gone. In 1984 the bell tower was dedicated in honor of the church's founders. April 13, 2015 was the dedication date for the Lift Project and building addition, with deep appreciation for the late pastor, Rev. David McDonald, who led us in making this dream a reality.
The history of our buildings and locations only begins to tell the story. The congregation of Clayton Presbyterian Church is grateful to all those who have served before us through many changes in our community. We continue with the same vision of our founders: to proclaim and live the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ.