History

Grosse Pointe Memorial Church
It’s History, It’s Life

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1865 - 1955
1956 - 1972
1973 - 2007
2008 - 2018
1865 September 7, The Grosse Pointe Protestant Evangelical Association organized the founding of the church. Grosse Pointe, having been settled by the French, was from the beginning largely Roman Catholic, with St. Paul’s Parish serving its spiritual needs. But by 1865 the area was assuming the character of a summer resort for Detroiters, and there were enough Protestants to feel the need for their own church.
1867 The first church building erected at the corner of Kerby and Lake Shore, on land donated for the purpose by Rufus M. Kerby, one of the founders.
1889 The corporate name changed to “The Grosse Pointe Protestant Society.”
1890 The Reverend John Baldwin installed as the first full-time Minister.
1894 The Little Ivy Covered Church built on the site of the present sanctuary, the land having been given by Joseph H. Berry, whose home was nearby. A frame house in the area to the rear of the church was purchased for the manse.
1920 The membership voted to become Presbyterian, and the church was renamed “Grosse Pointe Presbyterian Church.”
1925 A new church house – today incorporated within the present church-house was dedicated. At this time the name became “The Grosse Pointe Memorial Church.” since funds for the new sanctuary being planned were given by Truman H. Newberry and John S. Newberry as a memorial to their parents.
1927 May 15, The present sanctuary dedicated, built on the site of the Little Ivy Covered Church, which had been torn down.
1928 Youth group of the church was first called TUXIS (Together Under Christ In Service).
1931 January 1, Dr. Frank Fitt began his twenty-seven years as pastor.
1954 The Seabourne Livingstone property between the church and the War Memorial purchased for parking space and future expansion needs.
1956 January 22, The Prayer Chapel (at first called the “Memorial Chapel”) dedicated.
1958 September 30, Dr. Fitt retired and became Pastor Emeritus.
1959 The Allen Shelden Memorial Organ installed, and the Chancel mosaics given in memory of Mrs. Henry B. Joy. October 1, The Reverend Bertram deHeus Atwood became senior minister, serving until June 1969.
1961 Circles started by the Women’s Association.
1962 January 24, Board of Deacons established with 24 members. April 1, The new building, containing Barbour Chapel, Fitt Library, Fellowship Hall, and additional facilities for Christian Education, dedicated. At the same time renovations made in the former church house, “Doctors to India” initiated, whereby members of the congregation volunteered time in their specialized fields to overseas missions, a program still continuing today.
1963 First Women Elders – Mrs. Thomas J. Litle III, (Virginia) and Mrs. Charles Wright (Jan).
1964 First Woman Clerk of Session – Mrs. Thomas J. Litle III, (Virginia). Endowment Fund Established.
1965 100th Anniversary celebrated.
1967 Reorganization of Session into Councils: Worship, Parish Life, Outreach, Christian Education, and Administration.
1969 The Reverend Bertram deHeus Atwood resigned to accept a call to Swarthmore, Pa.
1970 The Reverend Ray H. Kiely became senior minister. Ecumenical Men’s Breakfast began.
1972 The Women’s Association celebrated its 50th anniversary. It had been preceded by a church group known first as The Ladies Union and later as The Women’s Union.
1973 April 1, The new Worship Book of Services and Hymns first used.
1975 Columbarium completed. Interpretation and Support Council established.
1983 September 30, The Reverend Ray H. Kiely retired and became Pastor Emeritus.
1985 January 1, The Reverend Louis J. Prues II became Senior Pastor. November 10, The Reverend Louis J. Prues II resigned as Senior Pastor.
1988 June 19, The Rev. Dr. V. Bruce Rigdon became Pastor.
1989 New Klais organ was installed.
1990 125th Anniversary celebrated. January 3, The Rev. Nancy Allison Mikoski and The Rev. Gordon A. Mikoski became Associate Pastors, developing the Youth Ministry before moving to Atlanta, GA in 1998.
1991 The Rev. R. Michael Foley became Associate Pastor, developing the Stephen Ministry program before answering a call to Snellville, GA in 2001.
1997 Major renovation project completed, funded primarily by the Ministry and Mission for a New Millennium. A new lakeside entry and reception area constructed at former site of church kitchen which was moved to former site of Fellowship Hall stage area. Chancel enlarged and chancel walls restored to original angel choir. New sanctuary lighting, dimming, and sound systems installed. Sacristy created. Classrooms and office spaces renovated, and new elevator installed in center of the building. Parking lot renovated, lighting replaced and property lines realigned through swap with Grosse Pointe Club.
2000 January, The Rev. Joanna L.J. Dunn and The Rev. Thomas F. Rice became Associate Pastors.
2002 December 31, The Rev. Dr. V. Bruce Rigdon retired and became Pastor Emeritus.  He would serve for three mores years as President of the Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit.
2007 The Rev. Peter Henry becomes Pastor. An Associate Pastor Nominating Committee is formed to seek an installed Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry.
2008 First adult mission trip to Honduras to work with Tim and Gloria Wheeler.
2009 Matthew Parker Wrzeszcz is installed as Associate Pastor for Youth and Their Families.
2010 First summer with Growing with God garden for young children.
2011 James Biery hired as Organist and Minister of Music.
2013 “Building on Our Firm Foundation” capital campaign begins. Trinity Terrace (outdoor worship space) dedicated.
2014 Renovation and restoration work begins on stained glass windows and carillon (bell tower). Sarah Godbehere installed as Associate Pastor for Youth and Their Families.
2015 GPMC celebrates 150 years of ministry. Members and friends pack 150,000 meals for Kids Against Hunger. Dedication of expanded outdoor columbarium.
2016 Session forms Diversity Task Force to initiate interracial and interfaith relationships. High school youth travel to Cuba for mission trip.
2017 Tak-Kin Ho receives the first Esther Porter Ecumenical Minister International Student Scholarship at Princeton Theological Seminary. First Trinity Terrace Triathlon at GPMC.
2018 Renovation of Crib and Toddler rooms begins.