Early History of
Comstock Park Congregational Church
(This information was taken from the
Comstock Park Congregational Church,
1910-1960 Golden Anniversary booklet.)
The Congregational Christian Churches are bodies of self-governing Christian believers organized on a democratic basis in close association with a great body of similar churches throughout the world, covenanting together for work, worship and fellowship. They are characterized by their faith in God, their fellowship in Christ and their freedom in the Spirit.
The Congregational Churches have been the pioneer Protestant churches of our nation in the promotion of education, missions, evangelism, and in most movements for Christian union, religious progress and social reform. The local church is self administering and is the final arbiter of all questions relating to its own life.
Rev. S. T. Morris 1910-1914 Rev. G. E. Hughes 1924-1927
Rev. Frank Folkerson 1914-1916 Rev. E. C. Barnes 1928-1943
Rev. W. A. Hutchinson 1916 Rev. Herbert H. McConnell 1943-1953
Rev. F. W. Sass 1916-1918 Rev. Raymond L. Boadway 1953-1957
Rev. S. T. Morris 1918-1920 Rev. Albutt Gardner, Jr. 1957-1959
Rev. A. G. Beard 1921-1923 Rev. Donald D. Brady 1959-
In 1910 nineteen members of the community attended a meeting called to order by Charles G. Marshall with John B. Jenkins acting as secretary. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss:
1. Are the religious needs of this community being fully met at the present time?
2. Can we get together on some plan to fully meet these needs? If so, with what denomination can we best unite in order to obtain the desired results?
All votes showed that there was a definite need for a church.
Fourteen voted to form a Congregational church and so it was decided.
On July 7, 1910
For the glory of God, for the service of our fellow men and for mutual assistance in our Christian life, the undersigned agree to become members of a Congregational church at Comstock Park.
Charles G. Marshall Mrs. Maggie Roth T. A. Hice
Mrs. Mary E. Marshall Michael Roth Mrs. T. A. Hice
A. D. Pratt John B. Jenkins Miss Lucinda Plumb
Mrs. Elizabeth Pratt Mrs. Virginia Jenkins Martha L. Baker
William Davenport Mrs. Ida Gierst Mrs. Mary Alice Giles
Mrs. Ida Dickerson Mrs. Helen C. Davenport Mrs. Lizzie G. Lamoreaux
Albert C. Fuller Ben Hunter Herbert A. Smith
Franklin D. Smith Elizabeth Hunter Mrs. Euphemia Smith
Mrs. Amelia A. Smith Martin Timmerman Mrs. Flora DeYoung
Jane Dickinson B. H. Pelton Mrs. Fred Jebb
Glenn M. Pratt Mrs. Sadie E. Davenport Fred Jebb
Mrs. Eliza Clark Mrs. Clara H. Fuller Loella H. Pelton
Clara Dickinson James Nason James A. Dickinson
Of these thirty-nine only Mrs. Margaret Roth is still with us (1960).
The Reverend S. T. Morris, minister of Second Congregational Church, helped organize the church and served as its first minister until April of 1914.
On 5 March 1912, the Comstock Park Congregational Church called a Council of Churches to meet at Comstock Park on June 15, asked to be recognized as a Congregational body and was received into fellowship with the Grand Rapids Association of Congregational Churches.
The church first met in the I. O. O. F. Hall which was located over Sandy Lamoreaux’s store (now the bank). Rent was $175.00 per year. The church was organized with a full board of nine trustees, a church clerk, a treasurer, seven deacons, seven deaconesses, a Sunday school, a Ladies Aid society, an organized Bible class and a missionary society. With all these office to fill, it seems obvious that every member had a very active part in the church activities.
In March of 1914 the church moved to the Baptist Church and in 1915 the Baptist congregation, numbering seven, gave the building to the Congregational church. The building was moved to its present site which was given the church by the North family which once lived there. The corner stone of the church honors this family. Buried under the church are: Mr. and Mrs. Daniel North, Hugh, Daniel, Claracy, Lavinia, Nathaniel, Harriett and Henry North; a laborer who worked for Daniel North and a traveler who stopped at the Norths, was taken ill and died.
In 1928 the Conservation Department gave the church a home which was then located across from the drug store. It was moved to the church property and became the parsonage. At the same time a room was added to the church.
1916 was a busy year. A choir was organized. a boys orchestra was in training. Y.P.S.C.E. was recently organized. The Combined Service inaugurated. Ten additions to the Sunday school, 350 calls made by the superintendent and visitors. Annual Sunday school picnic at John Ball with 104 present. The young people had two socials at the church, one at the home of Mr. Nason and one at the parsonage. Ladies Aid annual supper and sale, two Ladies Aid ice cream socials, an Annual Thankoffering and supper and the church held two church improvement "bees". The church improvements included one coat of paint on the church building, a cement walk was laid in front of the church, a cement floor was laid in the ladies room, 125 feet of drain tile laid, the building was fitted with eavestroughs, the church lot was graded, trees were trimmed and wire protection put around them, hitching posts were set, a 10’ by 15’ addition with coal bin was built, men’s comfort was built, ladies comfort room fitted up and fitted out by the Ladies Aid. A four burner oil stove was purchased by the Ladies Aid. Two dozen chairs were overhauled and refinished, a pulpit lamp was purchased, two dozen coat hooks put up in vestibule of the church, 100 hymn books installed and a bulletin board installed.
Mrs. Ray Munson was the Sunday School Superintendent for 40 years. Mr. Eivind J. Ericksen was Church Clerk and Trustee and Deacon for many years.
On 7 April 1912 the Rev. S. T. Morris called a meeting of the congregation to form a missionary society, Mrs. Ray Munson was the first president and Miss Ellen Lamoreaux (Ericksen) was secretary. The aim of the group was "the Promotion of Missionary Spirit among our members". The missionary society was primarily a study group with members acting as leaders.
On August 2nd, a Japanese Tea was given by Mrs. Jebb’s class at the home of Dr. Vander Veen. Miss Ellen Lamoreaux (Ericksen) and Miss Esther Lamoreaux (Sommers), Leslie Nason and Eivind Ericksen were the speakers with music furnished by the class. There is no record of how long the society continued to be active bu a 1916 report cites that ten meetings were held that year with an average attendance of 42.
The board of deaconesses was organized on 20 July 1910, to "assist the pastor in pastoral work, carry the Gospel of Sympathy and Good Cheer to the sick and the unfortunate; endeavor to reclaim the wayward and to welcome all to worship with us and to share the blessings of Christian Service". The first deaconesses were: Mrs. J. F. Lamoreaux, Mrs. A. D. Pratt, Mrs. William Davenport, Mrs. B. H. Pelton, Mrs. Fred Jebb, Mrs. Charles Marshall and Mrs. Mary Giles.
The deacons assist the minister in his pastoral work and serve at the communion services.
A debt of gratitude to the Ladies Aid is owed. They paid off the greater part of a $3,000 mortgage on the church by serving lunches each Wednesday for 25 cents for adults and 15 cents for school children. Sometimes their profit for a lunch was only $5.25.
The Ladies Aid started as a body of church workers in 1910 with Mrs. Virginia Jenkins as president. Then sometime between 1935 and 1937 the name was changed to the Ladies Guild. Their function was to study missions and their work, to lead the women in spiritual devotion, to study the social problems of the day and to do material things for others though friendly service.
A Sunday school was established the first year of the church and had an enrollment of 112, including an adult class. On the first Sunday evening of each month a sacred concert was presented and each Sunday evening a missionary service was held. Charles F. Marshall was the superintendent; Glendon Pratt, assistant; teachers were: Miss Ellen Lamoreaux (Mrs. E. J. Ericksen), Mrs. Fred Jeff, Mrs. A. D. Pratt and Mrs. Ray Munson. Mr. Pratt became the next superintendent followed by Mrs. Munson who served in that capacity for the next forty years.
In 1910 the Everybody’s Bible Class published a paper called Everybody’s Monthly. Glendon Pratt was the editor and business manager. Maude Nason was associate editor and Leigh Nason was circulation manager. 250 copies were printed, 100 distributed in North Park, 135 in Comstock Park and the remaining 15 were sent to other churches. There is no record of how long this paper was published.
(Comstock Park Congregational Church, 1910-1960 Golden Anniversary booklet. A copy of this book is located at the Grand Rapids Public Library (M285.8774 C739f)
Transcriber: Evelyn Sawyer
Created: 3 September 2002