Local Church History

On Friday evening, May 17, 1907, eleven people gathered at a home in Robinson Township to form a church, which they named the Grand Haven Scandinavian Seventh-day Adventist. The original members were:
Jens Halvorsen, Local Elder;
Markus Larson, Treasurer;
Missionary Secretary;
Amelia Halvorsen;
Ingeborg Larson;
Joseph Ryerson, Clerk;
Bessie Ryerson;
Ingeborg Myhre;
Johanna Sather;
George Sather; and 
Hartvig Halverson.

The organizers spoke Norwegian, and for many years that was the language used in the services. Later a branch was started in the City of Grand Haven. Transportation difficulties led three female members of the church to hold meetings closer to home. By 1917 the name of the church was changed officially to the Grand Haven Seventh-day Adventist Church. Elders William Guthrie and F. A. Wright helped with the reorganization.

By this time church membership had increased to 28, but the congregation continued to meet in private homes. For a short time a store building was rented, but in early 1921 the members rented the Unitarian Church at 318 Washington. Two years later Grant Hosford and George Wirsbinsky, two ministerial interns, pitched a tent on the corner of Washington and Ferry, near Jacob Cook’s grocery store, and held the first recorded evangelistic meetings. Seventeen members were baptized as a result of this summer-time undertaking, and Brother Wirsbinsky was named permanent pastor of the church. In the spring of 1924 Sister Beryl Davison, a member of the church for ten years, was assigned to do Bible work in the area. A few months later a large increase in the rent at the Unitarian Church caused the congregation to once again meet elsewhere, including on occasion private homes, the Salvation Army Hall [16 Washington], and the basement of the Reformed Christian School, then located at 800 Columbus.

The next January a committee was appointed to develop plans for a church building and to purchase a building site. Construction of a church at the southeast corner of Grant and DeSpelder Streets [1002 Grant] started that spring, and as soon as the basement was finished, the congregation began holding services there. The sanctuary upstairs was completed in the fall, just in time for the church to host a “Union Meeting” of congregations from other nearby churches. When Brother Wirsbinsky died in February, 1926, the church went for awhile without a pastor and was absorbed by the Muskegon District. Sister Davison remained in Grand Haven until the summer of 1928 and did much of the pastoral work. The church did not have a permanent pastor again until 1956, when Ray Hamstra arrived. The church was free of debt by the late 1920s, and for awhile rented space to the First Protestant Reformed Church for Sunday services.

By 1954 it was clear that the space at this small building was inadequate to meet the needs of a growing congregation. Plans for a new building were abandoned when the Second Reformed Church at the southeast corner of Washington and Sixth Streets became available. Services were held for the first time in the new church on February 5, 1955, although the congregation of the Second Reformed continued to use the sanctuary for services for a year and half while their new building was under construction. The previous church of the Seventh-day Adventists was sold to the Free Methodists. In 1971 the church was extensively remodeled, including improvements to the basement and sanctuary, including a new rostrum, baptistry, carpeting, and pews. Also in 1955 the church began building a church school building on land on M-104 donated by William Garrow and his wife, both church members. For six years grades one through eight were taught in the room available at that time. In 1963 and 1964 it was enlarged to two rooms and grades nine and ten were added. Prior to the school building, members had bussed their children to the F. A. Stahl School in Muskegon.

In July, 1970 the Seventh-day Adventist Community Center at 1119 Washington was opened, thanks to the financial support of area merchants, industries, and foundations. It continued and expanded social services done at the church. Gladys Barnett, wife of Delmar Barnett, was the director. The Center was valued at $60,000 when it opened. Half the building was rented out, but when that space became available the church used it for smoking cessation clinics, cooking schools, and other community activities. The Center later was relocated to 432 Beechtree.

in 2015 our church moved to its current location at 177th. And, in 2018 began phase 1 of an extensive renovation of the Sanctuary. Come and see how the Lord has blessed us.