The evolution of the Eastern Star Church

It had been a cornfield, this plot across from my neighborhood. Once in a while I’d get stuck on the main road behind a tractor or a harvester that had just completed some work here. Right in the middle of Indianapolis. And then one day about seven years ago heavy equipment cleared a dense line of trees by the road, revealing the fallow field beyond. This sign went up, followed by the framework behind it.

Church Coming Soon

As the trees came down I figured a neighborhood would be built here. I wasn’t excited. The road is narrow and busy enough without a hundred more cars trying to get in and out every day.

Church construction

And so I was happy that our new neighbor would be a church. And not just any church: the giant and well-known Eastern Star Church.

Sunrise over the unfinished church

This nearly 100-year-old congregation began to experience explosive growth about 30 years ago. Since then it has planted three new churches and expanded from one to three locations around central Indiana. This is the third and newest location.

Eastern Star Church

The church has been a respectful neighbor. They designed their parking lot so that it empties not only onto the main road, but also through a neighborhood to the north and the cemetery through the south, to disperse exiting cars evenly.

Eastern Star

Traffic moves pretty smoothly on the main road every Sunday morning, especially since police are always on hand to direct traffic. Sometimes I happen to return home from my church as Eastern Star lets out, and I seldom have to wait more than a minute to turn into my subdivision.

Eastern Star Church

The church brought an unexpected benefit: it extended my ability to take an evening stroll. My little subdivision has but five streets. Walking the same loop gets old fast. But now I can cut quickly through the church’s parking lot to reach the large cemetery beyond. It’s a nice, long, varied walking loop. I could walk there before, but I had to either walk a mile on the shoulders of busy roads, or drive. So I never did it.

Eastern Star Church

So why do I have so many photographs of the church? Because I’m forever testing a new-to-me old film camera, and the church is an easy subject. I can walk to it in five minutes.

Eastern Star Church

And so I’ve captured it in all seasons and at nearly all times of day. These photos are in chronological order, by the way.

Eastern Star

Really, little has changed since construction ended. A little more landscaping. The signs out front are a little different now. The trees, so spindly when planted, are filling out.

Eastern Star Church

It’s interesting to me to review these photographs and see how the church and its grounds appear on various films, through various lenses, at various times of day.

Eastern Star Church

We think we know a thing or a place because we pass by it all the time. But I think we easily come to fail to actually see it — our minds have put it into a box, have made it a known quantity.

Eastern Star Church

These photos show some of the variables that go into what a place looks like. This church’s structure is certainly fixed. But how we see it is not.

Eastern Star

Moreover, you would see it differently from me.  I would enjoy seeing how you would photograph this same place.


14 responses to “The evolution of the Eastern Star Church”

  1. DougD Avatar

    Never heard of Eastern Star Church before.

    Amazing once you get to our age (ahem) that you can observe changes in trees.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      There are lots of things I notice at this age that I didn’t when I was younger. It’s nice, actually.

      1. Create Space Avatar

        Hi Jim, what a lovely story, both in pictures and in words! I also have to agree with you, I certainly seem to ‘see’ now where before I just ‘looked’. I think we appreciate things more!

  2. Heide Avatar

    Your photos prove the value of returning to the same photographic subjects again and again, Jim — they show so many different facets of this building! I also loved your characteristic silver-lining thinking, in commenting on the expanded strolling options. I’m glad you’ve found them to be a good and considerate neighbor; one should expect no less from a church! ;)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks H! I notice as well that I got more adventurous with the subject as I warmed up to it over the years.

  3. Create Space Avatar

    Hi Jim, another thought provoking answer, how our perception of something/how open we are to something colours our response to it. It occurs to me that the Church committee would be very interested to see and put on display your photographic collection. Keep me posted!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I wonder if they’ll stumble upon this sometime!

  4. roykarlsvik Avatar

    A nice set of snaps of your subject here, Jim. I really liked the tight composition of what must be the entrance part of the church. The B&W one down towards the end of the post.
    And a nice story told as well, as usual :)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks Roy! It is probably the most adventurous shot I took. I used my Olympus XA for it.

  5. Create Space Avatar

    Jim it’s possible but like life, not certain! A lost opportunity I feel if they don’t. Looking forward to more good photos and your easily accessible storytelling voice.

  6. Sam Avatar

    Excellent photodocumentary, you were there right from the start!!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      By virtue of living across the street, yes!

  7. Tom jones Avatar
    Tom jones

    Hi Jim great shots also love the Dichroic steeple crosses the church installed very beautiful.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thank you! The glass in La Crosse looks different every time I see it.

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