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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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..
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.
Pastor Bob Hoey, 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.
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 1999. This request was also granted and we were officially received into the Evangelical Covenant Church at their annual meeting in late June of 1999. Click here to learn more about the ECC.
Pastor Ara Koliantz along with his wife Maria and two children accepted the call to become pastor at Messiah Church in fall of 2015.