New Seymour church hosting grand opening and open house


Leaders of Emmanuel Church were on a mission to find the perfect location for a fifth campus.

With a vision of pursuing those who don’t have a relationship with Jesus and helping change the world one heart and community at a time, the church extended beyond its Greenwood roots and became a multi-site church.

Banta (2013), Franklin (2015) and Garfield Park (2019) campuses were launched.

The latest addition to the Emmanuel Church family is Seymour (November 2021), expanding the impact of the church into southern Indiana.

From the soft launch to now, membership has grown to 300 people.

“It has been extremely successful so far just where the people are excited,” said Greg Wallace, communications director for Emmanuel Church. “I think it’s almost a perfect fit of a situation to be able to come in and find good people, a good leader, a good spot and a good community to come into.”

Andy Schroeder is the campus pastor, and worship services are at 9 and 11 a.m. Sundays at the Jackson Live and Event Center building at 1849 First Ave., Seymour.

The church is leasing the building from owners Rodney and Amanda Burton for six months and already has brought in modular buildings for group meetings and classes.

Emmanuel Church started in the living room of Darrel and Pauline Towles in Whiteland. The church opened its doors on Easter 1977 with 17 people. Founding Pastor Jim Devney retired in 2006 after 29 years of growth and service. The high school pastor, Danny Anderson, then stepped into the role of lead pastor.

Two years ago, Wallace said Emmanuel was among the top five fastest-growing churches in the United States.

When looking to expand, Wallace said Emmanuel looks for places where there really isn’t a church like it in the area. There are staff members dedicated to looking at communities in central and southern Indiana.

“There are all sorts of different churches, and they reach different sorts of people, and so we’re able to do what we do in our particular way, so what communities do we look at where we think that would be a good match?” Wallace said. “Then of course, we’re looking for ‘Is there leadership that we can find from that area? Is there a facility that’s going to be able to work for what we do?’”

The nondenominational church offers video teaching and live worship from its main campus and a dedicated staff at each campus.

“There’s a good chunk of the service that is of that community, so we need the right sort of facility to be able to make that happen,” Wallace said. “Finding that these days actually can be somewhat of a challenge as we’re looking for spaces.”

Fortunately, everything just came together for the fifth campus to be in Seymour.

“One of the draws is that we found just a great facility from the get-go,” Wallace said. “To be able to go into it and then say, ‘We can build things from here,’ we were able to go in from Day 1 and do things pretty much the way that we do them. It’s a nice space. It’s just a thing where we look for what doors God is opening where we’re needed and try to go and be a good partner with the various communities.”

Emmanuel contacted Schroeder about being the campus pastor, and he agreed. He had resigned from Seymour Christian Church in August 2021 and still was living in Seymour with his wife, LeaAnn.

“We were considering what God would have next for us to do,” Andy said. “We heard about this opportunity that Emmanuel had been praying for more than a year about coming to Seymour and planting one of their multi-use churches. We got to meet some of the people from there and had some conversations, and we just decided to join their team.”

LeaAnn is the children’s ministry director, while Gabriel Wilson is the production and facilities director, Jess Ritz is the ministry and host director and Kelsie Rieker is the worship and groups pastor.

Anderson is the lead pastor and preaches from the main campus for the video portion of the services, but the rest of the services along with the children’s and youth ministries, small groups and community outreach are handled by local leaders.

“They have been such a huge support,” Andy said of the Emmanuel leaders. “It’s interesting how through their centralized teams they’ve come down here so much and helped us get started. It has just been really pretty awesome.”

The children’s ministry and 16 small groups began meeting in January. Some of the groups meet at the church, while others meet at homes around the county. Andy said more than 220 people are in the groups.

The church’s official launch is this month.

At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, a night of worship will include Andy speaking and the worship team leading the service.

Then the church will have its grand opening Sunday and open house from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 8.

The public is welcome at all launch events.

“What we’re hoping to be able to do is to give future plans,” Wallace said. “We’re already up against some size issues because even in the soft launch, the campus has grown and is doing really well, so we are having discussions right now about the next steps of what we should do as far as space and are we going to be able to add on or what we’re going to do. We’re hoping to be able to announce that and have that information available at the open house.”

Beyond that, Andy said they will continue to build the ministries and small groups and start performing community outreach.

“We have a thing that we call Impact Week where we go out into the community to serve and do different projects to help in the area, so we try to partner with local nonprofits and stuff, as well, to be able to make a difference in the area that we’re in in a very practical way,” he said.

Emmanuel Church is off to a great start so far, and Andy and his team are excited about the future.

“We felt like God brought us here to Seymour, and we didn’t feel like our ministry was done here. We love the community. We love the people here. We were considering possibly moving back to Texas where our family lives,” he said, referring to him and his wife.

“Then this opportunity came up and it was just like we really felt that the Lord was showing us through a lot of different ways that we needed to walk through this door and just see what God wanted to do through this, so we feel very optimistic about this new church coming to town,” he said.

Andy said Emmanuel has a high level of excellence.

“They also are very intentional,” he said. “Their two goals are to reach lost people and for people to grow in Christ, and we are on a relentless pursuit of those two things. That’s the bottom line for our staff. It’s the bottom line for our people of the church is just this relentless pursuit. We’re going to do anything we can to reach people with the Gospel. We’re just excited about the future and excited about just how we can make a difference in Jackson County.”

At a glance 

Emmanuel Church meets at the Jackson Live and Event Center building at 1849 First Ave., Seymour.

Worship services are at 9 and 11 a.m. Sundays. Andy Schroeder is the campus pastor.

Upcoming special events for the new church’s official launch include a night of worship at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, a grand opening during the 9 and 11 a.m. services Sunday and an open house from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 8.

All events are open to the public.

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