History of Indian Heights United Methodist Church

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The history of Indian Heights United Methodist Church started in 1967, when some followers of Jesus Christ had a vision to plant a church on the hilltop of 103rd & Nall. They gathered to worship in the stone house already there, then, built a church building to accommodate the growing faith community.

Indian Heights UMC was planted by the Kansas City District Missionary Society of the Methodist Church, after it concluded that a new Methodist congregation was needed in the area. The Society purchased seven and a half acres at 103rd and Nall Avenue in October 1966. The site included a house and a pony barn. At that time, the site stood on Overland Park’s southern edge. 

Rev. John Patterson, a retired missionary, agreed to be a Parish Home Visitor and temporary pastor. He and Dr. Benjamin Schmidtke, the district superintendent, performed the organizational work and made many personal calls. A special letter invited the community to the first worship service, held in the house on April 2, 1967. The living and dining rooms served as the sanctuary, and other rooms hosted Sunday school classes. Other churches and members donated furnishings. Asbury Methodist Church sent some members to help start the new congregation. There were 24 families that first Sunday, and a business meeting followed the first service. The congregation accepted the name suggested by Mrs. Schmidtke, Indian Heights Methodist Church, which referred to the church’s location on the hill above Indian Creek.

Rev. D. Allen Polen, Jr., was appointed pastor in 1967. He and his family moved into the back rooms of the house, which were prepared as an apartment. Rev. Polen made many calls in the neighborhood, including calls on friends and alumni from Baker University.
Indian Heights was the first church in Johnson County to have an African American pastor when Rev. R. C. Moore served as the associate pastor from 1969 to 1973. He was greatly loved and is still remembered for the emphases that he brought to Indian Heights, including its theme song, “There’s A Sweet, Sweet Spirit.” In his remembrance, a wall hanging commissioned in 1989 now hangs in the narthex.

The church has been grateful to have many great pastors since then. What stands out the most is the way our faith family has stuck together through the many changes life brings.

On Sunday, April 2, 2017, Indian Heights UMC celebrated its 50th Anniversary. It was great to have all of our faith friends together. We look forward to seeing what God will do in the next 50 years.


The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up the light of His countenance upon you and give you peace.

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