OUR FAITH JOURNEY BEGAN OVER 100 YEARS AGO...
In 1894, twelve people banded together to form the East Grand Rapids Congregational Church. For a time, they met over a store in East Grand Rapids, but as the congregation grew, it became necessary for them to build their own facility at the corner of Norwood and Wealthy.
Again, the meeting place was outgrown and a site was purchased for a church building at the corner of Norwood Avenue and Wealthy Street. The cornerstone for this church was laid September 16, 1896, and dedicated on December 20, 1896. Largely with the labor of their own hands, pastor and people erected a simple frame structure, which was enlarged in 1910.
By 1927, that building was pressed for space and the present site was purchased. Ralph Adams Cram, a famous ecclesiastical architect, was engaged to design the complex. In 1929, the first service was held in the Parish House of this building. The following year, construction was begun on the chapel, which was dedicated in May of 1931.
In 1955 the sanctuary was completed and dedicated.
In 1961, the church voted to become part of the merged Congregational Christian and Evangelical and Reformed Churches, now called the United Church of Christ.
With the addition of the Henrikson Tower in 1988, the church edifice became accessible to handicapped members and friends.
In 1994, our centennial year, a campaign was launched to allow for many repairs and additions to our buildings. New heating, lighting and sound systems, a refurbished chapel organ and extensive repairs to our Neo-Gothic structure were completed.
1005 Giddings Avenue S.E.
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49506
In the intervening years, we have continued to upgrade our building by adding emergency lighting in all public rooms and hallways, as well as remodeling the Youth Center to accommodate robing closets for our choir program. In the former choir robing rooms in the basement level, the rooms were revamped to accommodate our food pantry store.
In 2002 the congregation of East Church voted to be Open and Affirming, stating that we welcome all who will join with us regardless of race or ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, economic class, physical or mental abilities. We affirm that the full fellowship of East Congregational Church (all rights and duties, benefits and responsibilities as defined by our constitution) is open to all who seek relationship with God through union with this congregation in Christ.
In 2004 the Heart and Soul campaign was launched to fund the replacement of the boiler system in the older portion of the buildings. Thanks to many generous gifts, a hot water heating system will now provide heat in the building for many generations to come.
We continue to make our ministry one of outreach, spiritual growth and personal expression in a building with significant history and extraordinary beauty. Our goal is "no matter who you are, no matter where you are on life's journey, we have a place for everyone." With this in mind, East Church has voted to be an open and affirming community.