2021 Cohort

First Christian Church

(Non-Denominational)

Columbus, Indiana

First Christian Church in Columbus, Indiana, is one of the earliest examples of Mid-century Modern religious architecture in the United States and one of Eliel Saarinen’s most significant works.

First Christian Church by Balthazar Korabin, Korab Collection, Library of Congress

First Christian Church by Balthazar Korabin, Korab Collection, Library of Congress

2021 Cohort

First Christian Church

(Non-Denominational)

Columbus, Indiana

First Christian Church in Columbus, Indiana, is one of the earliest examples of Mid-century Modern religious architecture in the United States and one of Eliel Saarinen’s most significant works.

The church’s freestanding tower is a defining element of the Columbus skyline and downtown environment. Built in 1942, Saarinen’s design demonstrates that faith expressed through architectural symbolism can be as rich in a Modern church as one based in traditional forms. The congregation influenced the design, desiring a building that reflected primitive Christianity free from the dogma and prescriptions of the denominations that had divided the faith. In the 1940s, writer Hugh T.H. Miller described the congregation as “a true democracy” and “a happy family” with membership reflecting a cross-section of residents.

First Christian Church opens its doors to community-serving organizations of all kinds, including the Red Cross, youth outreach groups, and local music programs. The church hosts a community Thanksgiving meal, offers hot meals year-round, sponsors a youth basketball program, and runs a preschool open to all local families. First Christian also participates in Mosaic Christian Ministries, which provides support to people who were previously incarcerated or are living in transitional homes.

A National Fund grant of $250,000 with $500,000 in matching funds raised by the congregation will help save First Christian Church’s iconic brick bell tower. Specific projects will address brick veneer failure, issues with the integrity of the common brick backup, water infiltration, and roof repairs, among other issues. The work will ensure that the tower remains a defining feature of Columbus for decades to come.

First Christian Church by Balthazar Korabin, Korab Collection, Library of Congress

First Christian Church by Exhibit Columbus

Stories and Media Coverage

Read more about how the National Fund for Sacred Places is helping congregations around the country rehabilitate their sacred places.

Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church by Luis P. Gutierrez