North Church has a long history of warm fellowship and progressive ideas. Started in 1875 by a group of Methodists who wanted to create a neighborhood church and were turned down by their own denomination, North Church stands 139 years later as an open and affirming congregation, welcoming everyone, in the fullest sense of that word, into the love of Christ and into genuine Christian fellowship.
The first site for North Church was on North High Street between Tompkins and Wilcox Streets on land donated by H. Milton Grimm, a member who also helped build the church. In the early decades, the congregation established a young people’s Christian Endeavor Society, a senior choir and a group of dedicated women who sewed for the poor, visited the sick, helped the needy and aided the church financially. First called the Benevolent Society, then Ladies Aid Society and finally the Women’s Guild, this group established a tradition that North Church still continues today in its dedication to mission and community outreach. Now, though, almost every member finds a way to use his or her time and talents to be God’s hands on earth.
The second site for the church was at the corner of Blake and East Avenues and was dedicated in 1896. At that time the church stood in the middle of a commons with no paved street or sidewalks. It didn’t take long for the area to grow, however, as a 1909 picture of the church’s primary Sunday school department showed 125 children gathered around their four teachers (how’s that for a scary ratio) and the department superintendent. In the early 1900′s, young choir members often went to jitterbug contests after choir practice. Since a requirement for making the trip was having attended practice, there was always a well-rehearsed choir on Sunday. Our congregation still delights in all the life children bring to the church. At North Church children learn that laughter, love and acceptance are important “rules” of the Christian faith.
1958 brought the ground breaking for the present site of North UCC and the creation of the fellowship hall. The sanctuary was added in 1965. The 1960′s also saw the addition of a number of members from the dissolved Plymouth United Church. North Church’s congregation was ahead of its time in choosing the land on Henderson for its home, since in 1958 the area was not the heavily populated and commercialized area it is today.
Since the initial building on Henderson, the congregation has added several wings (what a nice way to think of all our angels) to meet the growth, needs and mission of the congregation. Building additions are not nearly as significant, though, as what kind of people and spirit lives inside them. The North Church congregation has grown in the scope and depth of its ability to express God’s love to our fellow human beings, creating a sense of home not by bricks and mortar, but by spirit. As we face the 21st century, we stand on our long heritage of faith, fellowship, service and inclusion and commit ourselves to sharing God’s love, hospitality and justice ever more fully.