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Pipe Organ

Past Church

Present Church
Messiah is a very old church with a lot of history. We are currently trying to archive and document everything we can. Please, if you have anything to share (old photos, stories, documents), about the church and/or the surrounding neighborhood contact Tom Kuhr.

1897 - 1947 Fiftieth Anniversary Program PDF Download

Historical Outline

In August of 1897 a group of ten men, German immigrants, met to discuss the organization of a new church and successfully called the Rev. J.G. Hildner, who had a successful ministry here in Detroit for twenty four years, to be their first pastor. The church was incorporated under the name, “The German Evangelical Congregation of the Messiah” and first met in a church on Vinewood Avenue. The cornerstone of the present building was laid on September 7, 1902.

The Reverend A. H. Homrighaus, D.D. of Washington D.C. was called and came to Detroit on May 1, 1903. Messiah’s building was completed and ready for dedication on September 6, 1903. Dr. Homrighaus, bearing an open Bible entered the sanctuary with the procession reciting in unison the 122nd Psalm. The dedicatory sermon was preached in German from the text of Isaiah 56:7 “For mine house shall be called a house of prayer for all people.”

Messiah was always very missionary-minded with two early Detroit mission churches in 1910, the Jefferson Avenue Evangelical English Lutheran Church (Jefferson at Meadowbrook) and in 1916, the Church of the Reformation (Lakeview at Waterloo.)

On November 20, 1921, the German Service was discontinued at the Morning Service and on the second and fourth Sundays of each month, a German Service was held at 3:00 p.m. On May 8, 1922, German Services were discontinued entirely.

In 1921, a call was extended to Reverend F.M. Keller, D.D. of St. Louis, Missouri.

A new Austin pipe organ was dedicated November 5, 1921, at a cost of $10,500. It is with profound gratitude that we look back over the years and remember the mercies and blessings of God. Dr. Keller said, “A pastor can do nothing by himself. He is dependent entirely upon the blessings of God and the loyal support of the members. Without these, his best efforts are fruitless.”

Dr. Keller served Messiah for over twenty years and in May 1942 he resigned to accept the pastorate of the United Lutheran Church in Milledgeveille, Illinois.

In September 1942, the Reverend Ivan Miller of Aurora, Illinois, accepted the call to serve at Messiah and served for sixteen years until 1958. One of his greatest services to this church was to take a forthright stand (though to some unpopular) on welcoming racial integration into this congregation. Without a doubt, this church would have become spiritually impoverished, if not dead, had they not come out on the right side of this issue.

On September 26, 1943, Messiah conducted their 'mortgage burning' ceremony.

In 1958, Richard Bieber accepted the call to serve as pastor beginning what would be a thirty year commitment. The years 1958 through 1969 saw many changes and much fruit being born. More and more the church opened its doors to the local neighborhood and community and experienced a strengthening in its base of committed believers as members. Annual visitations of church members and others in need or open to the Gospel numbered into the thousands. Individual intercessory prayer on behalf of each member was encouraged. Strong proclamation of the Word of God in preaching and teaching and sincere worship of the Living Lord was the foundation upon which all hope for church growth was laid.

The decade of the ‘70s was one of harvest. Beginning with an outpouring of the Holy Spirit there was a fresh anointing of the congregation which many believe happened around Palm Sunday of 1970. This, coupled with a large influx of what was known as “Jesus People” in that same year caused a rebirth in the congregation that would forever impact this church.

Much of what had been regarded as standard church life and practice gave way to burgeoning nets filled with people. Young, long-haired anti-establishment types as many of their older, more mainline and conservative parents and relatives were being drawn into the kingdom as those in the dark being drawn to a great light. “A city on a hill cannot be hid,” it was preached: and so it was.

Black, white, Hispanic,
Jew and gentile,
Young and old,
Conservative and liberal,
Rich and Poor, Urban and suburban,
Were being forged into a new family of God at Messiah.

The rest of the decade continued as it began with a growing emphasis on “the priesthood of all believers,” outreach ministries, pastoral care and visitation by greater numbers of believers and supporting the work of the kingdom of God across superficial denominational and cultural differences.

The decade of the 80s brought even more emphasis on worship, committed service, outreach, and supporting other churches and ministries throughout the kingdom of God. Many members were recognized and “sent out” to begin or strengthen other churches or ministries. Many influenced by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Messiah received calls to be pastors, missionaries and servant/leaders in a variety of formal and informal ways. Instead of building a bigger church to handle the increase, beautiful, gifted and called believers were constantly being gleaned from the congregation. Ultimately, one of those being sent out in 1988 was Pastor Dick Bieber and his wife, Jean. He accepted a call to pastor the Lutheran Church of Our Saviour in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, which was also his first pastorate before he came to Messiah.

The next several years would have much regrouping and soul searching within the congregation. The pastoral position was filled by a team of leaders from within the congregation until such time that one of those leaders, John Konieczko was called to serve as pastor. John and his wife, Sue, set an example of committed service and faithfulness as the blessing of the Lord continued to stream forth into the church and neighborhood. In the spring of 1994, John felt the call to step down from the pastorate and continue his schooling at a seminary in South Carolina.

However, the strength of the Lord in this congregation has always resided in large measure in the congregation itself and not merely in the pastor as leader. Consequently, the life of the church remained intact and increasing leading up to the call of, Bob Hoey, who with his wife Evelyn and children came to serve in the spring of 1995 until the fall of 2013. Bob and Evelyn were among the young people who had been drawn to the church in the early 70s.

21st Century
Over the years in the 1970s through the 1990s, our congregation became less involved in the parent denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (E.L.C.A.) for a variety of reasons. In 1998, our congregation requested to be released from our affiliation with the E.L.C.A. so that we could explore new possibilities for our future. This request was granted. After much prayerful reflection, careful consideration of options and significant dialogue, our congregation made a decision to request to be received into the Evangelical Covenant Church denomination in June of 199. This request was also granted and we were officially received into the Evangelical Covenant Church at their annual meeting in late June of 1999.

Our first five years as a congregation in this denomination has been quite positive and encouraging, with many partnering relationships and involvements. We look forward to future cooperative ventures between our congregation and pastor and this larger church group.

As we reflect on over one hundred years of church life, let us consider the words of Isaiah: “Look to the rock from which you were hewn and the pit form which you were dug.” (Isaiah 51:1)

As we have been in the past
A stream in the desert,
By the grace of God
Surely we will become that desert,
If we forget
Who is the clay
And Who is the Potter.

As was said to the children of Israel:

Thus says the Lord
Today I set before you
Life and death.
Choose life!
That you may inherit blessing.

Let us choose this Life.
Let us afresh choose to serve
Jesus as Lord.

So shall we always say,
“I rejoiced with those who said to me,
Let us go to the house of the Lord.” (Psalm 122:1)

O Lord for a hundred years
Of your lovingkindness and mercy
We give thanks.
And can truly sing,
“This is the feast
Of victory for our God.”

In the Name and Spirit of Jesus.