Our Lady of Good Counsel, Plymouth, Michigan

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In this post, I’ll not be featuring the church building itself, but the lovely prayer garden on the grounds created to memorialize the Garden of Gethsemane.  Matthew 26:36-46 tells the story of Jesus prayers before His betrayal and his Disciples’ failure to keep watch and pray with (and/or for) Him, even for an hour…

The Garden of Gethsemane

36  Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed.38 Then He said to them, “ My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.”

39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” 40 And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? 41  Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42 He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” 43 Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. 45 Then He *came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!

I’ve thrown in the amazing crucifix which hangs in the sanctuary for good measure.

Pillar Reformed Church, Holland, Michigan

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This church is not only a wonderful landmark, it is a historically, significant place:

Pillar Church traces its beginnings to the very inception of Holland Kolonie. The well known story of A. C. Van Raalte’s voyage from the Netherlands to America in hopes of building a new home not incidentally includes the forming of a new church. In 1847, the same year in which Van Raalte arrived in Holland, the same group that would later inhabit what it is now Pillar, began building their first church, aptly named Log Church.
As the community began to grow and the center of town shifted from the site of Log Church (now Pilgrim Home cemetery) to the shores of Black Lake (now Lake Macatawa), a new church building became a concern. Construction began in 1853. On June 25, 1856, Rev. Van Raalte dedicated the finished work. In 1871, this structure, now known as Pillar Church, was one of only a handful of buildings to survive Holland’s Great Fire. In 1975, Pillar Church was awarded a Michigan State Historical Marker, and after persistent labors by church and community members, Pillar Christian Reformed Church was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.
The legacy of this storied church is, however, much more than just structural. Pillar Christian Reformed Church, though proudly heralded as Van Raalte’s church (he served there until his resignation in July of 1867), has also achieved the dubious distinction of being the church that caused a split in its faith. After a favorable report issuing from Rev. I. N. Wyckoff’s visit to Holland, Classis Holland was invited to join the Reformed Church in America. The classis, of which Van Raalte’s congregation was a part, accepted this invitation on June 2, 1849, and a year and one week later the Synod of the RCA officially accepted Classis Holland. But on April 8, 1857, four churches from Classis Holland seceded and formed the Christian Reformed Church.
Pillar did not secede during this initial split, but rather during the Masonic Controversy that boiled over some twenty years later. At a meeting of the congregation on February 27, 1882, by a margin of 86 to 18, Pillar Church voted to leave the Reformed Church in America. To deal with the schism, Classis Holland called a meeting for March 1 at Pillar Church, but when classis members arrived they found themselves refused entrance to the locked church by Elder Teunis Keppel. After deliberation among the United Presbyterians and the Christian Reformed Church, Pillar officially joined the Christian Reformed Church on December 3, 1884. This switch proved much more noteworthy than the one in 1857. Not only did a much larger constituency defect, Pillar’s congregation among them, but the late Van Raalte’s very own church left the RCA for the CRC. In recent years, ill will between these two denominations has been mitigated and merger has been proposed again.
When I ran across it I knew I needed to read and learn more about the background of this historical site.  My favorite bit of info was that, common among old Calvinist churches is that many had a rooster on top of the steeple, symbolizing Peter’s denial of Christ.  Pretty cool; a new bit of info for me.
Enjoy this photos, with which I am quite pleased:

Spring Lake Presbyterian Church, Spring Lake, Michigan

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I saw this really cool church as we were driving through Spring Lake, on our way into Grand Haven, Michigan.

I was surprised to see that my hunch was correct and that this was something of a mid-century modern twist on Gothic. It turns out it was built in 1957.  I’d love to see the interior.

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Bethlehem Baptist Church, Canton, Michigan

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Tucked back in a residential area — an usual mix of old and new-ish homes on a dirt roads — is this little, tiny country church.  I’ve never been by there when it was open but have seen a half-dozen times while cutting through the neighborhood to avoid some traffic clusterfrick.

Apparently its congregation is mostly Filipinos.  I would’ve mistaken it for a church full of old white country folk.  That shows you what I know.

http://canton-mi.patch.com/listings/bethlehem-baptist-church-8

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bethlehem-Baptist-Church/117915288233984

Bethlehem Baptist Church, Canton, Michigan

Bethlehem Baptist Church, Canton, Michigan

Grace Episcopal Church, Mt. Clemens, Michigan

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The stucco walls and the bright red front door grab my attention every time I pass this place.  I finally took the time to get some photos of it the last nice, sunny morning I was in the area.

To learn more about the church, hit its website

http://www.gracemtclemens.org/index.html

St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Westland, Michigan

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This congregation dates back to 1876, and originated in Wayne, Michigan, the neighboring city to its current home — and home for decades — Westland.  The church and school straddle the Wayne-Westland border.

I grew up less than 2 miles from this church and drove or rode by it dozens of times.  But I hardly ever noticed it was there (in plain sight.)  The school, which is around the corner, stands out — or at least stood out to me.

St. John’s, a Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod church, seems to be moving in the direction of evangelicalism in general, i.e. contemporary worship, peeling back formality in liturgy, attempting to make church dynamic and fun, and otherwise keep people’s short attention spans.  For a traditionalist like me, I like that this church, like my own, has both “traditional” and “contemporary” services, rather than doing away, altogether, with the traditional stuff.

Here’s what the church has to say about itself:

St. John’s traces its founding back to June 4, 1876 in Wayne. The current church in Westland on Glenwood Road began as a new location just for the school on Wayne Road in 1950. St. John’s church was dedicated on February 12, 1967 together with additions to the school, notably the Parish Hall/ Gymnasium, kitchen and conference room.
The last building project in Westland began in 1977 with the addition of four classrooms and a music room.We welcome you to come and grow with us in Christ as a part of the St. John’s community! Read on for more information on our ministry.

http://www.stjohnswestland.org/

Although it is not an old building, I liked it.  What I liked, aesthetically, more than the building was the sunlight and amazing blue sky when I took photos of the place.  Normally, a day in late February would be cold, gray and maybe even damp. But, unless you missed the dormant, khaki-colored grass on the property, you’d think these pictures were taken on a nice day in May.  The shots aren’t bad for a mobile phone.

St. Michael Melkite Catholic Church, Plymouth, Michigan

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Without boring (or maybe amazing!) you with a long history lesson, I say what little   I know and/or could quickly glean from the internet about Melkite Catholicism.  The Melkite Catholic Church is, at its heart, the Greek church (by rite, not by ethnicity) which remains in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.  Put another way, it’s an eastern Catholic church that observes Byzantine rites but acknowledges the Pope as the supreme Patriarch.  It is also, by and large, an Arabic church.  [I welcome any corrections to this all-too-simple explanation from those in the know.]

I can’t find much information about the local parish — this particular congregation.  I do know the building itself is quite old, but I cannot find the exact year it was erected.  It was originally the First Baptist Church of Plymouth and some of the stonework still reflects that.

St. Michael Melkite Catholic Church, Plymouth, Michigan

St. Michael Melkite Catholic Church, formerly First Baptist Church, Plymouth, Michigan

St. Clare of Assisi Episcopal church and Temple Beth Emeth synagogue

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It’s probably a bit naive of me, but I had no idea there was a joint Christian-Jewish place of worship in this area.  I’ve been out to Ann Arbor plenty of times, but I had never noticed this place before this past Friday.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to get any really good photos or look around the building too much, but I was able to capture what struck me the most, i.e. the Star of David and the Cross side-by-side.

Two separate congregations meet here, one an Episcopal church, the other a Reformed Jewish temple.  Both are very active congregations and both have websites that are very well done, which can provide those interested with all the seeming pertinent information.

http://templebethemeth.org/

http://www.saintclareschurch.org/

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Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Hastings, Michigan

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The only thing I know about this church was that I was drawn to it as I drove by on a short visit to Hastings, Michigan this past December.  The church has a slick website, especially considering that it’s a modest-sized church in a small town, but it doesn’t say much about the church.  Too bad there’s no detailed history of this congregation; usually the thing I’m drawn to after seeing a church that catches my eye aesthetically.

http://www.hastingsemmanuel.org/index.html

Stained glass, Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Hastings, Michigan

First United Methodist Church of Wayne and Westland, Michigan

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I couldn’t find much about this church online, nor do I know anything about it personally except that my daughter’s preschool was in its facilities.
Some basic information about this congregation is found here: http://archives.umc.org/Directory/ChurchDetails.asp?FAC=52102

The building itself is appealing in its simplicity. I love the reliefs (above the main door) of the four Gospel writers as traditionally represented, with the Paschal lamb in the middle.

First United Methodist Church, Wayne, Michigan

Older wing

St. John, as represented by an eagle

Relief of the four Gospel writers and the Paschal Lamb