On October 8, 1951, a group of men and women interested in organizing a Methodist Church in the Northeast section of Wichita met with Dr. Hunt, the District Superintendent of the Wichita District. They were told that three lots had been purchased at the corner of Oliver and 14th Street with an option for three adjacent lots at Dellrose and 14th Street. The name Dellrose Methodist Church was chosen in order to get it into the Conference minutes that year with the understanding that the name could be changed later by the members if desired.
The first Worship Service was held October 14, 1951 at University Methodist Church and 17 persons were received into membership. Worship services were moved to Carter School beginning October 21, 1951. The charter membership had a total of 65 members and 10 preparatory members. The first Women’s Society was formed in November, 1951 and the Methodist Men’s organization was started in March, 1952.
Construction on the church was started in March, 1952 and the laying of the cornerstone was done September 21, 1952. In December, 1954 an addition was made to the church to be used for education classes. The Church continued to grow and in May, 1960 an educational building and fellowship hall were completed. An outdoor Memorial Chapel was built in 1963 behind the church house at 1521 N. Oliver by the youth and men of the church.
A building committee for a new sanctuary was formed in 1964. Groundbreaking for the new sanctuary was done in August, 1969 and the Consecration Service was held July 19, 1970 with the sermon titled “The Church Prepares for the Future.”
Over the next 15 years, the church continued to grow. There were many activities held including annual fellowship events such as the men’s pancake and sausage feed, the women’s bazaar, neighborhood fairs, vacation bible school, fellowship dinners, church picnics, Hanging of the Greens, and youth trips. The church was also involved in many areas of mission work including the Urban Ministry Food Bank, Red Bird Mission and the sponsoring of missionaries Dr. Marvin and Carolyn Piburn.
During the late 1980’s, membership began to drop. Members were moving and attending churches closer to home and the racial makeup of the neighborhood began to change from predominantly white to predominantly black. Attempts were made to encourage the neighborhood to attend and a slogan was even adopted “A small town church in the city.” A church newsletter was started named the “The Lamplighter” and was mailed out to members and visitors to keep them informed of things going on at Dellrose.
Membership continued to decline through the early 1990’s as children who grew up in the church married and moved away. There was even talk of closing the church.
But in July, 1998 a young, enthusiastic pastor, Kevass J. Harding, was sent to Dellrose and the course of history was changed. His sermon style with congregational participation was a drastic change for most of the members who were settled in the traditional United Methodist form of worship. An attempt to terminate his appointment to Dellrose failed and over the next 4 months, a mass exodus of all but 3 families of the original members left, leaving only 25 members.
The faith of Pastor Harding and those few members allowed God to take little and make much. God had GREAT plans for Dellrose and He would not let it die. January, 1999 marked the beginning of the rebuilding and renewal of Dellrose United Methodist Church. During the first 6 months of 1999, average attendance was 100. Over the next 15 years, membership would grow from 25 to almost 807 with an average Sunday morning attendance of 232.
But the life of Dellrose is not about the numbers, it’s about the making of Disciples of Jesus Christ. To accomplish this, many changes would need to take place to draw the people in, teach them and then send them out to serve.
The term Worship Service was changed to Worship Celebration because we come in to celebrate and praise the goodness of God and we go out to serve Him in the community. The music style was changed from the traditional hymnal congregational singing with pipe organ or piano to a more contemporary gospel music with several musicians, a Minister of Music, and a Praise Team encouraging congregational participation. Sunday School and the first Disciple 1 class were started. New members are informed about our congregation and The United Methodist Church in the New Member Orientation class.
The 1st Annual Church Retreat was held in February, 2000 with emphasis on Team Ministry. It was at this retreat that the Vision and Mission Statements and the Covenant and Value Statements were written. Banners were soon made and hung in the Sanctuary just as Habakkuk 2:2 reads: Write the vision, make it plain. The Vision and Mission Statements are core to Dellrose and are recited at every church meeting held.
A new lighted sign was purchased to replace the small wooden sign on Oliver to let the community know we are here reaching out to them. And a new sound system and phone system were installed bringing us into the 21st century. A 15-passenger van was purchased to pick up those who needed a ride to and from church and to take trips to do ministry. A weekly newsletter was named Dellrose Speaks and announced activities coming up at Dellrose and in the community.
By 2001, membership had increased dramatically and it was clear that the 50 year old education and office building and the 30 year old sanctuary were in need of many improvements. The Nehemiah Building Team was established to determine what was necessary and how to go about getting it done. The Celebrate the Gift Building Campaign was presented to the church and pledges began to come in. Several different phases were planned and on October 1, 2006, the first phase, the sanctuary renovation was completed.
There is something going on at Dellrose almost every day of the week. Friday is Family Night. Activities are not usually scheduled on Friday to give families time to minister in their own homes.
From 2000 to 2007, the Dellrose Counseling & Outreach Center served many in the community offering personal and group counseling and classes like Parenting and Anger Management.
We have grown from a 4 member Praise Team in 1998 to the Voices of Joy Choir. We also had the New Revelation Youth Choir, Children for Christ Choir and the Dellrose Mass Choir that are currently inactive.
Our Dance Ministry consists of Heaven’s Jewels children’s dance, D-UP Devine United Praise youth dance, Royal Women of Praise and Soldiers for Christ.
We are making Disciples for Christ with Disciple 1 through IV classes on Thursday evening and Sunday morning, Youth Disciple, Confirmation Class, Children’s Bible Study, Children and Adult Sunday School, SOW Study on Wednesday, Women’s Bible Study, Vacation Bible School, and Spiritual Fathers. Other bible studies once included M.E.N. (Marriage Enrichment Now) Bible Study, Couples Bible Study and Children’s Church School.
Other active ministries at Dellrose include United Methodist Women, United Methodist Men, United Methodist Youth, Family & Couples Ministry, UMM Mentoring Team, Children’s Ministry, Singles Ministry, Prayer Ministry, Health Ministry and the DelMart Clothes Closet, just to name a few.
Our Missions and Caring for the Flock Ministries assist both members and those in the community in need of help with rent, utilities, and food. Dellrose is also a member of the W. G. Williams Community Foundation offering college scholarships to high school seniors.
Through 2011, the DeLaRosa Youth Center offered an after school program where children in the church and the surrounding community were able to get tutoring and mentoring, as well as Summer Academy with latchkey that included academics and fun for the summer.
The USD 259 Summer Lunch Program and Partners for Wichita Filling the Gap Lunches for Kids spring break program serves breakfast and lunch for the children in our community.
Some ministries have come and gone, some people have come and gone, some joys and some difficult times have come and gone, but…..”forgetting what is behind and straining forward to what is ahead, let us press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward.” When we do our part, God will do His part!
God has truly taken little and made much in the hands of those who believe that with God, all things are possible. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1). We’ve come this far by faith and God will continue to bless Dellrose as we claim the Victory in 2013 through our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness.