It is hard to think of Indiana as the “Frontier.” That was precisely what it was. People from the East made their way West. Some went all the way to California. Others found rich farmland along the way. As people settled in and began farming and businesses, they also began to start churches. Some were churches of their ancestors. However with new opportunities came new spiritual curiosity. People began reading the Bible for themselves and asking questions.
Traveling ministers came through new communities and began to answer these questions. Believers Baptism, a know-so salvation and assurance, voluntary church membership as well as exploring possibilities like “feet washing” as a godly practice, all were being discussed. New church congregations were formed and “revivals” (meetings which answered these questions) were held.
In Whitley Co. in 1857 a Rev. Fredrick Komp came from the East. Together with a local farmer, Mr. Compton they began a congregation in the countryside outside of a small settlement which became Columbia City. Baptisms were performed in the small creek and meetings held in a newly erected school.
The church and Compton school used the same building for 22 years. In 1879 the church constructed their first building. It was a quarter mile from the school and was similar in size and structure. They worshiped there for 4 years. In 1883, a “wind storm” which today would be classified as a tornado, destroyed the church building. In the Churches of God at that time the church was considered the people of the congregation and the building was called a “Bethel.” This means “house of God.”
A new “Bethel” was constructed immediately by the motivated congregation! Within 7 months, the new building was constructed debt free. This speaks to the personality of the Oak Grove Church. When a task needed to be done, the people did it. This was true whether it was reaching out to the poor, conducting a revival, or building a building.
The church continued to minister to its surrounding community. Through two world wars and the Great Depression, Oak Grove ministered to its surrounding community. After WW II the church was in better financial condition and erected a parsonage to go along with the church building and Cemetery. It also added a basement to the building in 1950.
Over 20 pastors have ministered at Oak Grove. In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s Rev. Hubert Miller ministered at Oak Grove and oversaw the renovation of the Bethel in 1957 during a time of great growth. In 1966 a Fellowship building was erected behind the church building under the leadership of Rev. Carroll McNutt. In 1983 an addition to the church building was constructed, adding classrooms and a nursery. In 2007-10 several renovations including new carpet, glass doors, and nursery and restroom remodeling were done. The elders believe that certain improvements communicate to people that they are welcome and that there is room for them.
Many ministries have touched the community. Youth, child care, Mission trips, Senior ministry and Christian education have all been ways God used the ministry of Oak Grove Church to touch Whitley Co. Oak Grove Church continues to believe to have thriving ministry of touching Whitley county with the gospel in both spiritual and practical ways.