Michigan Church of God Celebrates Centennial

The year was 1921. Detroit was starting to mass produce automobiles, Henry Ford was selling his Model T for $410, and the Church of God entered the Pleasant Peninsula! At the 1921 General Assembly, Efford Haynes was appointed as Overseer of Ohio and Michigan, and soon afterward a congregation was organized in Detroit and another in the Upper Peninsula town of Bessemer.

In 1924, M. P. Cross came as pastor of the Detroit congregation and as Michigan’s first resident state overseer. In all, twenty-eight men have served in that office, with two of them (M. P. Cross and Paul H. Walker) having served twice. By the end of its first decade, the Church of God in Michigan had organized churches in White Cloud, Sebewa, Pontiac, Flint, Grand Ledge, and Port Huron.

From the beginning, a unique Pure Michigan fellowship and spirit of unity has characterized the ministry here. Nowhere is this more evident than in the annual camp meetings. Early camp meetings were conducted in rented facilities including the Lake Odessa Methodist Camp, and other rented venues in Sebewa and Reed City. For a time, both the Pontiac Church and the Detroit Tabernacle each hosted the state camp meeting. In 1955, the present campground facilities were purchased. Initially, a “Gospel Tent” was pitched and used until the first open-air tabernacle was erected in 1962.

Michigan’s first youth board was appointed in 1952, and the long-standing, life-changing tradition of Michigan youth camps was established. Rented campgrounds in Proud Lake and Sebewa housed these until the early 1960s when cabins were built on the Fenton campground.

The first Church of God state-owned property was the state parsonage in Royal Oak, purchased in the mid 1940s. This spacious home—so large that it later became a private nursing home, housed both the state parsonage and the state office for more than a decade. Subsequent parsonages and offices were located in Pontiac and Troy until a modern new office building and parsonages for both the overseer and youth director were constructed on the Fenton Campground in the late 1970s. Massive campus-wide improvements, including a total renovation and winterization of the tabernacle was completed in 2002 with further substantial upgrades being celebrated in 2008.

From a population of under 3 million in 1921 to almost 10 million in 2021, much in the Great Lakes State has changed. What hasn’t changed is that Pure Michigan sense of fellowship and unity. What hasn’t changed is Michigan’s passion to evangelize its cities, to win the lost to Christ, and to make disciples in the Spirit and Power of Pentecost.

We praise God for 100 years of Pure Blessings on the Church of God in Michigan!

(Source: Michigan Church of God State Offices. Article by James E. Cossey)

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