Michigan City Seventh-Day Adventist Church
A Brief History
Through interviews with several of our older members and digging into the old church clerk’s records, we know that a company of believers met in Michigan City for some time during the early 1920s. On June 8, 1924, Elder French baptized three into the Michigan City Company.
The Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Michigan City met August 16, 1924, in the Hi-Y room at the YMCA. There were four ministers present: Elders Wirbirski, Dunbar, Pyper, and Osgood. Elder Wirbirski presented the sermon and Elder DeWitt Osgood was selected to be the first pastor.
As far as can be determined, the charter members of the church were: Elder Osgood, Brother Marion Pepple, Sister Pepple, Dr. Anna B. Durrie, Sister Maybelle Warren, Sister Adams, Brother Conda Osgood, Brother Orville Coughlin and Sister Helen Coughlin.
It is interesting to note that the church was first in the West Michigan conference but was later transferred to the Indiana Conference.
The information for the years of 1924 - 1934 confusing and incomplete. However, early in 1934, there were no male members and plans were made to disband the church. One Sabbath in February 1934, Elder Denslow was sent by the conference to attend to the disbanding of the church. It also happened that Brother Perl Covert from the Elkhart Church was visiting the Michigan City Church and informed Elder Denslow that he intended to move his family to Michigan City and settle there. Since Brother Covert would now provide the needed leadership for the congregation, Elder Denslow discontinued the disbanding action.
Shortly afterward, Brother Arthur Hostetler, Audrey Faye Cole’s grandfather joined the church and Brother Perl Covert and Brother Arthur Hostetler served as elders for several years.
From 1924 until 1934 the church met for varying lengths of time in the homes of different members. In the summer of 1934 the church began meeting regularly in the home of Brother and Sister Covert and met there until 1937. At this time the Oddfellows Hall became available for rent. This hall was used until 1946.
The Covert family purchased a home at 1214 E. Michigan Blvd and the church met there until February 1950. At this time the church started meeting at the Old North Church, a Presbyterian church located west of town in Beverly Shores. Meeting in Beverly Shores proved to be a challenge in the winter months. Interestingly, the membership held steady. In fact, the sixties saw the largest membership of the church.
Almost thirty-six years since the church's organization in Michigan City, the members now hoped to have a building of their own. A building fund had been in effect for a number of years, but it still wasn’t a very imposing amount. A site was selected and purchased. Plans were drawn up and approved by the state.
However, before the actual construction had begun, it was brought to the attention of the members that the Christian Science church, located at 321 E. 7th St., was for sale and a very reasonable price was quoted.
A committee of conference officers (including the Conference President Elder T. Edgar Unrue) came to Michigan City. The committee gave their stamp of approval and even gave the church generous financial help. In a short time the difficulties and delays that accompany a sale of property were quickly resolved and the papers were signed.
On March 5, 1960, the church members moved into their new sanctuary. That church was dedicated on May 21, 1960, as the first Seventh-Day Adventist Church owned in Michigan City.
That building was sold to a group of Seventh-Day Adventists from the Lake Region in the fall of 1976. They had held an effort during July and August and had baptized quite a few people. Their total number was about twenty, and they rented from the Lake Union Seventh-Day Adventists for a few months before asking if they could buy the facility.
The original congregation in Michigan City was now without a church home. The Free Methodist Church rented to the Michigan City members, whose numbers had dwindled from a high of 54 in 1969 to 28. In spite of the number of members, the building fund was now growing at a fair rate.
After about six years of renting, the present structure became available. It was a house that a realtor was planning on making into offices for his business. His plans did not materialize, and the Michigan City congregation was able to purchase the house with its acre of land at 2610 Ohio Street.
The first church service was held on January 23, 1982. The building was still pretty much a ‘home’, and a few revisions were made until the major renovations could take place.
In the fall of 1984, Jim Davidson, an architect and teacher from Andrews University, drew up the plans for converting the house into a church. He was told to keep the plans simple but functional. The conversion took about two years with the limited help available.
Those who had a part in the renovation work were: Elder Longfellow, Elder Moushon, Louis Monchamp, Wade Cole, Barry Cole, Bob Stringer, Herb and Dot Helm from Berrien Springs and John Doperalski. Some of the ladies helped with the clean-up work.
The finishing of the basement was started in the summer of 1987. Louis Monchamp was the leading force to keep things moving, and this project wasn’t finished until 1988.
Little by little there have been various improvements. New pews were installed in 1991 to replace the benches that had originated many years before from a Jewish synagogue. These pews were later padded and covered. In the late 1990s and early 2000s the church started a fund to replace the church sign with a weatherproof model. This was purchased and installed in 2005.
The Michigan City Church is slowly growning once again. April 2008 saw a membership of 34 with hopes to enlarge in the very near future.
The current members look forward in seeing where the Holy Spirit leads the Michigan City Church in the future.