The Story of Doris Miner Hanstra

A Story of the Beginning of LUM in 1957

On a fall afternoon, Doris Miner Hanstra looked out of her window and saw three girls sitting on the curb trying to light cigarette butts. She invited them into her home that day and several days after. Soon Doris was hosting scores of children in the basement of her church regularly.

This legendary story has been told and retold by each LUM executive director through the years to demonstrate how one person can have an impact that lasts for generations. If you want to learn more about the individuals who had a part in what eventually became this phenomenon known today as Lafayette Urban Ministry, Doris Miner Hanstra (1910-2003) must be at the top of the list.

Her husband, the Rev. Peter Hanstra became the pastor of Hope Chapel Presbyterian Church in 1957. Hope Chapel was founded in 1844 as a Presbyterian “mission” to the relatively low-income people living on the southside of downtown Lafayette. Doris noticed immediately that there was a need to support the families and children in their new church neighborhood in downtown Lafayette.

Doris and her team of volunteers planned a series of programs & events which included arts & crafts projects in the afternoons and movie nights with popcorn. These programs were successful, had a positive impact, and grew quickly, drawing the attention of Purdue University and other churches. She accomplished all of this while supporting her husband as pastor, playing organ at services, and raising her five children, one of whom was adopted.

Partnering with a student from Purdue, Doris and a small group of volunteers from a variety of churches started the Neighborhood Development Project in 1962. Doris inspired a movement that led to the formation of the NDP advisory board in 1966 by Hope Chapel. The board approved a budget of $5,000 for three programs: afternoon “craft programs” for children in Kindergarten through 3rd grade, evening craft programs for 4th through 6th grade children, and a summer camp.

The programs including singing, birthday acknowledgements and guest speakers like local police & fire departments talking about safety tips. Their handicrafts included a service component. The children would make “useful” crafts for “someone at home or for the sick.” One of their projects was to beautify the neighborhood by planting flowers along the church building. They created crafts for every holiday including Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. They planned study & recreation trip for the children too — including picnics, children’s plays, trips to Happy Hallow Park, events at Purdue, service projects, a Christmas pageant & caroling, a puppet show and a trip to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum.

The Hanstras retired in 1966 but not before presenting a plan to hire a new pastor who would continue to be active with the Neighborhood Development Project. The search resulted in the hiring of the Rev. Ron Elly. The Rev. Elly built on this simple idea, and Lafayette Urban Ministry was incorporated in 1972.

Doris Miner (1910 – 2003) was born in Cass County, Indiana, and attended Lucerne Schools. She married Peter Hanstra in 1933.

Their children are Miner Hanstra of Lafayette, Marta Flaherty of Peoria, Jeanne Van Horn of Lafayette, Gretchen Paprocki of Lafayette & Rachel Bahrenburg of Bismark, ND.

Doris played the piano & organ and was music director in several Indiana & Illinois churches. She painted porcelain and sold pieces through her business, The Nook & Granny. In 1983, she won 1st prize in a state competition.