Door-to-door religious surveys were conducted on the Northwest side of Indianapolis in 1982. The surveys confirmed that many residents in the area were either un-churched or inactive in their present churches. In January 1983 several families organized home Bible studies. After meeting regularly, they became interested in a new church to serve their neighborhood. Greater Northwest was started April 1983 by a team of seven families from the then named Baptist Bible College of Indianapolis and the Northwest side of Indianapolis. The founding families were Pastor & Sis. Claude (Annie) Robinson, Bro. & Sis. Jimmie (Quester) Adams, Rev. & Mrs. Ken (Sharon) Davis, Mr. & Mrs. Arlo (Diana) Dickerson, Mr. & Mrs. Richard (Carolyn) Gooder, Rev. & Sis. Frank (Mare) Stone and Rev. & Mrs. Phillip (Brenda) Taylor.
This new church was a goal of Dr. James Wells, pastor of Zion Hope Baptist Church, where Pastor Robinson had served as the assistant pastor for five years, and was co-sponsored by the Bible College. The inaugural service was held on April 24, 1983, at the temporary meeting location of St. Monica Catholic School, 6131 North Michigan Road. There were 190 in attendance. An organizational meeting was held on June 5, 1983. Twenty-seven voting age adults were present. The following resolution was presented, read, and accepted:
Resolved – that guided as we believe by the Holy Spirit and relying upon His guidance and the blessing of the Triune God, we do here and now, by this act constitute ourselves as a New Testament Baptist Church to administer His ordinances, advance His worship, encourage Christian fellowship, and to be governed by His will, as revealed in the New Testament.
At this meeting the congregation also adopted a Statement of Faith, a church covenant, finalized the budget, and called Claude Robinson as the Pastor. The membership drive ended three months later in July 1983 with 43 charter members. Pastor Robinson was able to leave his secular job and pastor full time receiving a weekly salary.
The early church members envisioned and prayed faithfully for their own place to worship. Money had been set aside for the purchase of land on which to build an edifice and for continued expansion of facilities and church growth. In 1985 Greater Northwest purchased three acres of land from Mr. Ken Starkey for $4500 and he donated three acres.
Building plans were then made. Ground-breaking services were held June 1986 and the builders started work shortly there-after. Worship services were held at St. Monica’s School until 1985, and then the fellowship hall of Zion Hope Baptist Church, 46th and Arlington, until the first building phase consisting of 4,000 feet was completed in January 1987. This building included a small worship room seating 125, sound room, men’s and lady’s restrooms, a nursery four small classrooms, one doubling as an office, and the foyer. The first services in the new structure were held on February 1, 1987. Pastor Wells preached at the dedication services on April 22, 1987, and in September 1987, he went home to be with the Lord.
In August 1988, a building/planning committee was formed to work with the architects in designing Phase II of the building program. These plans included a new fellowship hall, additional classrooms, offices, kitchen, larger restrooms and paved parking lot. This would be the prelude for the third phase which would be a sanctuary that seats approximately 600 people. In November 1991, with a membership of approximately 120, the mortgage on the Phase I structure was paid off. The plans for the new structure were presented to the congregation and approved on April 8, 1992. After all construction bids and building permits were obtained, groundbreaking services were held in October 1995, and construction began there after. After many delays that included weather, construction and personnel concerns, Phase II was completed and worship services were held in the new facility on the 14th church anniversary in 1997. This phase expanded the building an additional 6000 square feet for a total of 10,000 square feet.
The original worship area was divided into a junior church room and additional classrooms; the existing classrooms were also remodeled. Greater Northwest soon outgrew the new facility. In order to accommodate the growing membership an 8:00 a.m. service was added.
In October, 2004, this congregation of less than 350 members held yet another ground breaking for Phase III. This project was to be a massive undertaking for such a small congregation as it included an additional 30,000 square feet encompassing a new sanctuary and balcony, with combined seating capacity of 1,200, a spacious pulpit with choir seating and baptistery, dressing areas with bathrooms, communion kitchen, laundry room, administrative wing including the new church office and work room, a pastoral suite and garage, conference room, library, choir room and office, state of the art audio/visual system, new bathroom facilities, usher room, a spacious coat room, expanded parking and more importantly the addition of 20 classroom/multipurpose areas for the purpose of training disciples for Christ. In January, 2005 we held our first service in the newly constructed sanctuary; discontinuing the need for the early worship service.
In December 2014, founding Pastor Claude. B. Robinson announced his retirement. After 32 yeas of serving as the shepherd of GNWBC, he officially retired in December of 2015 after a year of festivities and celebrations; however, he vowed to maintain his leadership until another senior pastor was elected. During the interlude Rev. Larry Terry served as the interim pastor.
Shortly after Pastor Robinson’s announcement, a search committee was formed consisting of members from the leadership as well as lay members, male and female. In adherence to the constitution, a nationwide search ensued and applications were received from all over the country. Several potential applicants were taken through a thorough examination process and narrowed down to one main prospect. In the summer 0f 2016, Rev. Cory A. Rogers of Park Avenue Missionary Baptist Church, Riverside, CA was presented before the church as our pastoral candidate. In August of 2016, by majority vote, Pastor Rogers was accepted as our Senior Pastor. On October 2, 2016, Pastor Rogers preached his first sermon and was installed on November 5, 2016.
Since conception, Greater Northwest focus has been on the furtherance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have conducted regular services of Sunday school, morning and evening worship, Wednesday night prayer and Bible study and youth ministry.
Opportunities at Greater Northwest Baptist for ministry and discipleship include the men’s, women’s, couples, singles, seniors and youth fellowship groups, mission committee, adult, teen, and junior choirs and ushers; Sunday School for all ages, ETA training classes, new members’ class and ministry, junior church, youth groups on Wednesday night, evangelism and discipleship ministry. We also offer a care ministry for college students, armed service and relocated members, prison/rehabilitation ministry, and senior housing ministry. Our service ministries include the shepherding ministry, benevolence and watch care, social activity and welcome committee, budget, finance, hall monitor, baptism, communion, audio/visual, tutoring, and transportation committees.
Yearly events included Vacation Bible School, African American History Celebration, Sweetheart Banquet, Mother/Daughter Brunch, Father/Son brunch, Women’s Retreat, Church Picnic, Week of Prayer, Mission’s Conference and our church anniversary. From its beginning, Greater Northwest Baptist Church as maintained support for missionaries across the world and Crossroad Bible College (formerly Baptist Bible College.) From the humble beginning in 1983 at St. Monica Catholic School until now. We are thankful to God for His blessings sustaining us as we strive together for the faith of the Gospel.