Our Mission

New Union Christian Church is affiliated with the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ,  a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world.  Click here if you’d like to learn more about Disciples of Christ identity.

The historic and current mission of New Union Christian Church is:

  • to present the Gospel of Jesus with intellectual integrity appropriate for our time;
  • to offer a context and place for spiritual discernment, growth in faith and hope;
  • to support the ecumenical cause of unity of church and humanity; and
  • to promote peace with justice in our world.

We affirm the uniqueness and worth of every person and welcome all persons to the life, worship and community of this congregation. We extend Christian hospitality to all. Our congregation offers a traditional worship service with the weekly celebration of the Lord’s Supper combined with a reasoned and experientially based approach to Christianity.

In a time when modern life overflows with too much busyness, New Union, with its simple beauty and pastoral setting, seeks to be a place of peace, serenity, caring community, and hope.

Our Staff

Rev. Dr. Deborah Phelps

Our Minister: The Rev. Dr. Deborah Phelps  began serving as minister of New Union Church on September 1, 2017.  Pastor Deb is a graduate of Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis and a former secondary school teacher with a specialty in chemistry, physics, and other sciences.  Pastor Deb is one who challenges our members and visitors not to leave our brains at the door, and to find effective ways and creative ways to work together despite our diverse backgrounds and interests.

Deb has special interest in Disciples of Christ and Stone-Campbell history, thelogy of disability, reconciliation ministries, and online and video ministry.  She is co-founder of DisciplesNet Church, an online church for perosns not able to attend a physical church.   Deb and her husband Dean moved to Versailles, Woodford County in January 2017.  Dean is also a Disciples of Christ pastor and is a singer, songwriter and guitarist.


Music Director and Organist: Anne Sessa

Anne Sessa began serving as Music Director and Organist at New Union Christian Church in January 2017.   Anne’s career has led her to be a conductor, singer and organist. She has held the position of Music Director for several large churches, including First Presbyterian Church, downtown Pittsburgh. During that time she also was conductor of the Bower Hill Chorale, performing many major choral works often accompanied by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. In 2000 Anne was appointed conductor of the Seaglass Chorale in Maine and the large children’s chorus Seaglass Kids. She later became conductor of the Southern Maine Chorale.

In 2004 Anne moved to Canada where she became conductor of the Greater Moncton Chorale. In 2008 she moved to Fredericton, NB and became conductor of the Bel Canto Singers for eight years until her move to Lexington in 2017.

In addition to her church and conducting work, she has been alto soloist with a number of symphony orchestras including the Pittsburgh Symphony. She holds degrees in organ, voice and conducting.


Children’s Director: Caty Graham

Children’s Director Caty Graham and helper get ready for Easter Egg Hunt

Catherine “Caty” Graham began as our Children’s Director at New Union Christian Church in February 2017, revamping our children’s program.  Caty has worked with children much of her life and is beloved by our children, their families and the church.  Caty works 10:30 -12:30 each Sunday, and begins at 10:00 on the First Sunday of the month when we have a brunch.







Our History

Recent History

Rev. Dr. Nancy Jo Kemper


Rev. Dr. Nancy Jo Kemper:  In 2017 the congregation voted to name Rev. Dr. Nancy Jo Kemper as Minister Emerita of New Union Christian Church after her faithful service of  22 years (1995-2017) .  Rev. Dr. Kemper also served as Executive Director of the Kentucky Council of Churches.   A graduate of Transylvania University and Yale Divinity School, Rev. Kemper was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Transylvania.



Martha Jane Stone, Organist for 78 year

In Memory: Martha Jane Stone was the much loved organist at New Union Christian Church who served from Easter 1938 until her death in December 2016.  During her 78 years of service, which we believe to be a record, Martha Jane served with seven ministers and played three different organs. Martha Jane earned degrees at Transylvania University, the University of Kentucky,  and continued studies in music at the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati.  She was also  a member of the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra’s ‘cello section until 2010.


Our Beginnings:

Our church got its beginnings in 1834 when a group of Baptists who were members of Mt. Vernon Baptist Church (also located on Old Frankfort Pike) separated from that church in a dispute over their desire to hear an itinerant evangelist who was presenting the ideas had emerged from the Stone-Campbell movement for Christian unity, that had its genesis in the Cane Ridge (KY) revivals in 1800 and in the burgeoning Enlightenment philosophies brought to America.

For a period of about 5 years, the separated Baptists met in their homes.  It is said that some of the wives of the men who were pursuing these new ideas were not happy about it, and so would often leave their petticoats to dry on the fire screen when the men gathered in an attempt to embarrass them and subvert their meeting!

In 1839, a brick meeting house, plain in design and simple in its architecture, was erected on a plot of land near Elkhorn Creek.  Over the years, the church grew to its largest size with a membership of 90+ adults.  Around 1850, the congregation delegated a number of its members to be the founding members of the Midway Christian Church, and Dr. L.L. Pinkerton, the pastor at that time of New Union, went with the delegation to form the new church.

The original meeting house stood until 1960 when it was determined by architects that a new roof could not be installed on the building without the walls collapsing.  Several of the members took the responsibility of razing the old building, which had no running water, and which had only had electricity since 1952.  They saved the old bricks and the pews, and these were utilized in the new building that was erected on the same footprint as the prior structure.  The new building was erected and dedicated in 1963 with great faith that the church would continue to exist in the future.  It included an undercroft with a kitchen, a nursery room for small children,  space dividers to create additional classrooms, two bathrooms (to replace the outhouse—a real luxury), and a larger entry way.

The glass in the windows reproduces antique wavy glass and is  very faintly tinted in hues of yellow, pink, and blue.  There are two round windows in the building, at the front, above the divided chancel, and over the entry doors.    In the outer circle, there are 12 panes of glass representing the 12 disciples; in the inner circle there are four panes of glass, representing the four Gospels.  The center frame  of the window forms a cross.

Other than symbolism embedded in the round windows and  a modest-sized brass cross behind the simple communion table, the building has no other religious symbols, denoting the lack of need of such symbols to mediate the sacred to the worshipers, who may find it in the fellowship, the worship, and the immediacy of nature as seen through the church’s large windows.  The communion table has center-place, suggesting that our remembrance of Jesus, the one whom we seek to follow, has primary importance in the congregation’s life.

2 thoughts on “About Us

  • June 20, 2020 at 11:54 am

    Pastor Phelps
    After checking out your church on line I have a question for you. What is the bare minimum that a person needs to know to become a Christian?

    Darrel Clark

  • June 20, 2020 at 2:57 pm

    Thank you so much for your question and your connection.
    “To become a Christian…” Could be the title to a sermon, a book, or for many of us, one’s lifelong quest to get this better and better–to resemble the best example of a Christian possible, with each passing day.

    Not being sure of your definition of Christian, I will answer from the simplest definition, with a Christian being: a follower of Jesus Christ.

    According to this, it would start with first recognizing the special nature of Jesus the Christ (Messiah), then secondly, making the decision to commit oneself to follow him.
    This is a bit like the disciples beside the sea did–such as Andrew, Peter, James and John–but also the multitudes of men, women, and children whose names we will not know. What goes hand in hand with this is that once we’ve taken this first step, our lives are about growing into greater understanding of what it means, and wrestling with the divine, or holy nature of Jesus.

    Within the Disciples of Christ, we see ourselves as a step beyond seeing and following. The people in the Forrest Gump movie just followed..— but to be disciples of Christ, means being committed to taking on Jesus’ work and ministry by working with others together, as the body of Christ–despite our diverse differences, theologies, and mindsets.

    We don’t evaluate each other to say, “That person isn’t really a Christian, or is really is a great Christian.” Or if someone wants to join the church, have our leaders vote or decide on if they are in our out. We don’t see this our role, but between the person and God. “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant?” (Romans 14:4).
    It comes down the simple statement: “Jesus is the Christ, and I commit myself to follow him.”

    Some of this follows as Jesus asked Peter: And what about you? Who do you say that I am? Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
    Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. –Matthew 16:15-18, NIV

    There’s much more to it than this but I hope this helps.
    Also, with our congregation, one can certainly be undecided, or a seeker, or trying to work out the answers, and be welcomed into our fellowship, as we believe Jesus gave us an example of as he shared his table with others that the world found unlikely.

    May the peace of Christ be with you and in your heart this day.
    Pastor Deb Phelps

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