East Heights: A Look Back in Time
In June 1945, a small group of people with a dream met with the Wichita District Superintendent A.E. Henry to discuss the formation of a new Methodist church in East Wichita. J.H. Huston shared that dream and made possible the purchase of a building site and, with a gift of $40,000, established a building fund.
Dr. Basil Johnson was appointed in the fall of 1945 to organize and develop the Oliver Street Methodist Church. At the church’s first services on February 3, 1946, Sunday school attendance was 66 and worship service 124.
Charter Sunday was held April 14, 1946, with 181 members received. In May, the name was changed to East Heights Methodist Church.
As attendance increased, the congregation moved to Robinson Intermediate School. Construction of the Chapel began in May 1948, and on February 17, 1949, the first services in the new church were held, with 263 present for Sunday school and 336 for worship.
By the fall of 1952, the membership had grown to 826, and it was necessary to hold two worship services and three Sunday school sessions. Another building fund was established, and in 1956 the congregation moved into the Undercroft for worship services and adult church school classes. By the fall of 1958, East Heights had more than 1,800 members and the need for completion of the Sanctuary was evident. The first worship service in the Sanctuary was on Mother’s Day, 1960, with 1,581 people present.
On April 9, 1961, the new East Heights’ 41-rank organ, built by Casavant-Frere Company of Canada, was dedicated as the Lloyd R. Pickrell Memorial Organ. In 1982, five ranks were added and a 13-rank Hedrick Memorial antiphonal organ was installed in the balcony. In 1994, Casavant installed a solid-state electronic action in the main console and performed extensive renovation and repair on the mechanics of the sanctuary organ.
The newest addition was consecrated September 10, 1989, and doubled the church’s capacity for Christian education and community service. It included a multi-purpose facility given by the Frank E. & Harriett E. Hedrick Foundation dedicated as Hedrick Hall, the Clay Barton Youth Center given by Frank & Patsy Barton in memory of their son, and the Hanna Education Center, given by Bill and Janice Hanna.