It all began…
…when the Indiana Conference decided to relocate Beechwood Academy in a more suitable place. After much consideration some land near Cicero, Indiana was chosen and purchased. To this new location the Academy was moved and renamed. This took place in 1919, and some prospective students were on hand to help unload the boxcars of belongings which were brought to the new school site. A nucleus of believers was brought along and work soon began in earnest at Indiana Academy. The stories of those early days are many and varied, suffice it to say that from those early beginnings, Indiana Academy took its rightful place as a producer of stalwart young leaders for God’s cause around the world.
In the second year of the new school, the Cicero Seventh-day Adventist Church was organized. The meeting at which this organization took place was on October 16, 1920 and was held in the unfinished dining hall at the Academy with Elder W. J. Blake presiding and Professor Charles Marsh, Academy Principal, acting as secretary. There were forty-seven members, most of whom were connected with the Academy either as teachers, builders, or students.
For several years it was the custom for the church group to meet in town at some rented quarters during the summer months when the Academy facilities were closed. When the school opened in the fall, the church would return to the Academy. On one occasion, at least, the Christian Church in Cicero was rented and served as a temporary home for this congregation. In 1925, the Academy erected its first Administration Building and for most of the time thereafter the church home was in the new chapel. Thirty-one years quickly passed and the church had grown along with the school until the once spacious chapel with over two-hundred seats was long since inadequate. At the beginning of the school year in September 1956 the church worship services were held in the Camp Meeting Auditorium.
Early in October of this same year, the Counsellors, a money raising organization, were employed to secure funds for a new church and church school. Previous efforts to raise money for a church building resulted in raising about thirty-five hundred dollars, and to this amount was added the new funds as the program got under way on November 17, 1956. The amount grew steadily while plans were being formulated by the Church for the new building. In January of 1958 the blueprints were ready and the building committee was invited to meet in the Conference President’s office with the group at the annual audit with several of the Union Conference committee also present. At this time the blueprints were accepted and also the financial plans and the permission was granted for the building to be started. In March of 1958 the land where the church is located was cleared of all the trees, the stumps were removed, and excavation begun. Along with the permission to build came the grant of land in the grove which was soon staked out and fenced in as the actual construction got under way.
The summer of 1958 saw several developments. With the building program in progress and all that it entailed, the pastorship of the church and the Bible department of the school after nearly thirty-eight years were divided and Elder Perry became the first full-time pastor of the Cicero Church. The work on the building, being done mostly on Sundays, progressed rather slowly, but steadily through summer and autumn. It was necessary to employ some outside help to get the building enclosed for the winter. 1959 and 1960 were the years when the stone veneer was put on the building; first on the south side of the building then on the north side (about half of that being on the tower). In 1959 the glass in the windows (except for the front) was installed, the basement drains and floors laid, and the chimney flue erected. The rooms were partitioned in the basement, and the wood partitions and balcony were constructed upstairs. This was the year that the stairways and the hallway floor and drains were put in. The upstairs walls and ceiling were lathed and the plastering began in late November. The heating system was installed just previous to this.
During the winter of 1961, the plastering was finished, the plumbing completed, and the downstairs rooms, ceilings installed and the walls painted. During the summer the tile floors in the basement were laid and that part of the building completed. Meanwhile in the sanctuary the trim was put on and light fixtures installed.
The first public service was held on September 3, 1961 when Carole Perry and Vernon Hoxie were married in the Junior Chapel because the sanctuary was still incomplete. During the next three months the tile floors were laid upstairs and the interior trim painted, new church furniture and carpets installed. The Sabbath School departments were moved into the church the first Sabbath in November and the first church worship service was held on November 5, 1961, followed the next evening by the wedding service for Adelia Voss and Keith McGill.
During the winter and spring of 1962 the inside trim and kitchen were finished and the parking lot and lawn were put in. The landscaping and other necessary items took their place during the summer and early fall in preparation for the big day on Sunday, October 7, 1962 when a formal Open House program was given for the public, when neighbors and friends were invited in.
In the spring of 1963, the first series of public meetings was held in the church and the object of the building began to be realized as it was used to proclaim the last message. The campaign to eradicate the church debt, launched November 18, 1962 came to fruition as the last of the debt was paid soon after campmeeting in 1963.
Since the church was organized in 1920 it has been served by five regular pastors, with two more men filling in with interims of one year each. All seven of these men came to Cicero as Bible Teachers for the Academy. Elder W. J. Blake, who organized the church, died on January 23, 1926 as a result of an auto accident. He was a very kindly man and greatly mourned by the church and community as well. To take his place, Elder O. K. Butler came to Cicero and served for twelve years. It was during his tenure that a real struggle was carried on during the early depression days to keep Indiana Academy alive. He contributed to the success of the church and school. After Elder Butler left in 1938, he was succeeded by W. T. Weaver who came from Cedar Lake Academy and was here as Bible Teacher for just one year. Elder L. L. Murphy, who had previously been the educational secretary of the Indiana Conference, came as Bible Teacher and Pastor in the fall of 1939 and remained here for twelve years. It was during the pastorate of Elder Murphy, that our present church school building was constructed. He had a real desire to see a church home built and started a building fund which with interest amounted to nearly $3,500.00 by the time the campaign was revived in 1956. During Elder Murphy’s tenure, he served as acting principal of Indiana Academy while Professor E.E. Bietz was doing graduate study. Throughout this school year, 1943-1944 Elder E. M. Tyson served as interim pastor and Bible Teacher. In 1951, Elder V. R. Pike, pastor of the Anderson District, came to Cicero as pastor and Bible Teacher. He was here for five years, one semester of which he was acting principal. On July 4, 1958, Elder and Mrs. C. E. Perry and family moved to Cicero from Lansing, Michigan to serve as both pastor and Bible Teacher. Mrs. Perry was called to teach in the church school where she then served seven years. Soon after the arrival of the Perry’s, the church building program was revived. Much of the money raised during the time of Elder Murphy was borrowed to pay for the money-raising program, voted by the church, which made it possible for the church to be erected to the glory and honor of God. Elder Perry’s term of service in Cicero took in the whole scope of the program from the money-raising through the actual building to the final payment on the debt and the Dedication.
The recitation of our story is not over. Each new day and each new year will add its verse and chapter. This is no time to rest upon our laurels of past accomplishments. Like Paul, we must press on to the mark of our high calling. The greatest days of this church are those which lie ahead and into experience of each member should come the added joy of new adventures of faith in Christ.
Here is a list of the pastors since the church began.
ACADEMY CHURCH 1920-1961
W.J. Blake 1920-1926
O.K. Butler 1926-1938
W.T. Weaver 1938-1939
L.L. Murphy 1939-1943
E.M. Tyson 1943-1944
V.R, Pike 1951-1956
C.E. Perry 1956-1963
OLD CICERO CHURCH 1961-1980
C.E. Perry 1956-1963
John O. Herr 1963-1969
S.D. H. Seltzer 1969-1974
Don Houghton 1974-1975
Randall Murphy 1975-1981
NEW CICERO CHURCH 1982-PRESENT
Archie Moore 1981-1984
Fred Rogers 1984-1987
Don Johnson 1987-1988
Lyle Davis 1988-1994
Ron Kelly 1994-2013
Vic Van Schaik 2014-Present
Aaron Clark 2013 – Present