CENTRAL SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH #156
Seventh-day Adventism came to Grand Rapids on May 1,1886, when H. W. Miller established a Mission and Training School at 194 Sheldon Avenue. Encouraged by the interest in the Mission, the Michigan camp meeting was held here, beginning on September 17, 1886,east of Fuller Avenue between Wealthy and Sherman Streets. According to the newspapers of the day, it was well attended by the general public. Tent meetings were held in August of 1887 on South Division Avenue at Buckley Street by I. D. VanHorn and William Wales with "a good number of converts", according to news reports. On November 20, 1887, 35 people were organized into the body which is now known as the Central Seventh-day Adventist Church. H. W. Miller was the pastor. The organizational meeting took place at Ringuette's Hall on Division at
Franklin, at that time called South Division Street and Fifth Avenue. A week later, November 27, 1887, "the church was increased by the accession of 8 or 10 members by baptism, the rite being administered in the waters of Reeds Lake",
according to the Grand Rapids Daily Democrat. Two years later the Good Templar's Hall, corner of Oaks and Sheldon, was rented as a place of worship, called in the press, "a more suitable location". In 1898 the first real church home was built on Cass Avenue, a half block north of Wealthy Street. By early 1911 it had been outgrown and was sold and remodeled into an apartment building. The Jewish Temple on the corner of Fountain and Ransom was rented for the months required to build another church next door to the first. The second Cass Avenue church was occupied from late 1911 until 1924 when it was sold to the St. Nicholas Antiochian congregation. For two years, Sabbath services were still held in that building by a rental agreement. Beginning in 1926 and continuing for more than ten years, the All Soul's Universalist Church was leased.
Because of conflicts with the programs of other organizations who also rented the building, other quarters were sought in 1936. The Baptist Church on Horton Street was rented until the present building became available. On September 22, 1939, the All Soul's Church was purchased. The first service in the newly acquired property was held on October 14, 1939 with Carlyle B. Haynes,
President of the Michigan Conference, presiding. The property was purchased in 1892 for $10,500 by the All Souls Universalist congregation. The noted architect, William George Robinson, designed the building which was erected in 1894, costing $50,000. It is faced with rusticated sandstone from a quarry in the Iron Country of Northern Michigan. In June of 1977 the Historic
Preservation Commission designated it as a historical landmark. During the years when the resources of the owners of the building dwindled and it was rented to several different groups, it was not cherished as it should have been. Its original beauty had become sadly marred. As soon as it was purchased by the Seventh-day Adventists, extensive restoration began, including alterations to make it suitable for the unique programs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. A new wing was added in 1976, providing more class rooms, restrooms, a chapel, conference room and a spacious office for the pastor. There has been a steady growth through the years but the records show a noticeable increase in membership in 1931-32. Elder Virgil Hulse was the pastor-evangelist then.
He later became the first Seventh-day Adventist military chaplain. Another increase is noted in 1941-42 through the ministry of the nationally know evangelists, D. E. and M. L. Venden. The Central Seventh-day Adventist Church "mothered" into existence the churches in Wyoming Park, Sparta, and the
Bethel and Spanish Churches in Grand Rapids. The total membership is now 1229. The Grand Rapids Central Seventh-day Adventist Church is a major shareholder in the Grand Rapids Junior Academy, a ten grade, six teacher school located on Oakleigh Avenue at Leonard Street.