Celebrating its 175th anniversary in October
Vergennes United Methodist Church 175th anniversary
Vergennes United Methodist Church, 10411 Bailey Dr., is celebrating its 175th anniversary in October by unveiling a mural painted by local artist Gary Eldridge. A specific date in October for the mural's debut has not been set yet, but it will most likely take place on a Sunday after their regular services. “We'll get together, have some cake and have a chance to gather, chat and reflect on the fact that this church has been in ministry for 175 years,” said Thomas Fifer, the new, young pastor who just joined them eight weeks ago. “That's a very long time, we don't have many things that old in Michigan that we have a record of. We'll have some time to reflect on where we've been, part of that will be unveiling the mural, as well as where we're going, where God is leading us. There won't be a long ceremony or anything, it's just a chance to share what's going on, unveil the mural and thank everyone for being a part of it.”
The mural will be located on a wall inside the church and will offer a graphic representation of their long history. The Vergennes United Methodist congregation was founded in the spring of 1843 when a group of families from around the Vergennes Township area gathered to worship in the log home of Anthony Yerkes, about a mile east of the current location. The first members of the congregation were the Yerkes family, Charles Collar, Joseph Wright, Mrs. Amos Hodges, Mrs. Anna Van Deusen, and Ebenezer Smith; a Rev. Bush preached the first sermon. They've been in their current building at the NE corner of Bailey and Parnell since 1864. When the current church building was constructed, the congregants were the Fairchilds, Kerrs, McPhersons, Odells, Bieris and Andersons. They have updated and added onto the building over the years and have more updates planned, but the property retains many of the original 19th century features like a huge tin ceiling. The church was named an official historical site by the state of Michigan in 1978 and a historical marker was placed there in 1986.
“Some of [the mural] is a timeline of landmark events,” Fifer said. “Mac McPherson and Roger Odell have been working really hard on capturing the story of our church and getting a lot of those landmark dates and things that have happened. It's really a chance for us to remember those significant moments and for us to be able to tell the story of our church. We get to beautifully present that on the wall in our gathering place.”
“Gary Eldridge is doing the artwork and it will be very nice,” McPherson said.
For more information about Vergennes United Methodist Church, visit vergenneschurch.org or call 616-897-6141.