Redeemer United Methodist Church in Harper Woods will  celebrate its 75th anniversary  at 10 a.m. Sunday, April 28.

Redeemer United Methodist Church in Harper Woods will celebrate its 75th anniversary at 10 a.m. Sunday, April 28.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Harper Woods church celebrates 75th anniversary

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published March 19, 2019

 The Rev. Marshall Murphy, second from right, said Redeemer’s longevity is thanks to its presence in the community. At Bible study March 13 were MaryAnne Johnson, of St. Clair Shores; DeeAnna Kay, of Detroit; Kathy Drake, of Roseville; Murphy; and Tim Powell, of Grosse Pointe Woods.

The Rev. Marshall Murphy, second from right, said Redeemer’s longevity is thanks to its presence in the community. At Bible study March 13 were MaryAnne Johnson, of St. Clair Shores; DeeAnna Kay, of Detroit; Kathy Drake, of Roseville; Murphy; and Tim Powell, of Grosse Pointe Woods.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 Redeemer United Methodist Church began  by hosting its services at the bar of the Gratiot Township Club in 1944. It quickly grew to become one of the most-attended churches in the area.

Redeemer United Methodist Church began by hosting its services at the bar of the Gratiot Township Club in 1944. It quickly grew to become one of the most-attended churches in the area.

Photo courtesy of Redeemer United Methodist Church

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HARPER WOODS — For decades, Redeemer United Methodist Church has been a pillar in the Harper Woods community, and it is now celebrating its 75th anniversary.

Founded in 1944 and starting out near the bar at the Gratiot Township Club, the church quickly gathered followers. The property was soon rebuilt to serve as a proper house of worship.

“Our original building was a little white church, which was moved down from St. Clair Shores,” explained Linda Dallas, the chairperson of the Redeemer church council. “When we built the current building we’re in (in 1965), we converted the old building into a thrift store, which served the community until it burned down in 2014. That was before thrift stores were on every other corner, and it was one of the few sources of affordable clothing for families in the area.”

The current church building received an addition in 1988, which included new restrooms, an office suite, a library and an elevator. Both the original church and the current building sit near the corner of Vernier Avenue and Harper Avenue — a location that church administrators say allows them to serve residents of several different cities, including Harper Woods, Eastpointe, Detroit and the Grosse Pointes.

A celebration of Redeemer’s history will take place starting at 10 a.m. Sunday, April 28.

“We’ll be having a special service to celebrate our 75th anniversary,” said Dallas. “We’ll start with a coffee hour; there will be a service where our district superintendent and the bishop of the Michigan conference will be speaking. Afterward, we will be having a catered meal.”

Church leaders said that a few of the things that have allowed the church to last for 75 years are its community involvement and its dedication to its longtime congregation members.

“At the time Redeemer was in its growth period — years and years ago — what people expected from a church was different,” said Dallas. “It started as families wanting to raise their children in a Christian environment. As time passed, the needs changed. … We started looking outward more and seeing what we could be doing in and for the community around us.”

The Rev. Marshall Murphy said the presence that Redeemer has in the lives of residents and the community in and around Harper Woods is what makes the church a special place.

“One of the things the church is celebrating is not only its time in the community but also its lasting role in the community,” said Murphy. “We try to reach out to groups like the Harper Woods School District or the Harper Woods Public Safety Department to engage and partner with them on resources for area residents.”

Activities and resources that Redeemer provides include armchair aerobics and yoga classes; collections of food, clothing and other household goods; and hosting groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Saving Kids of Incarcerated Parents and the Booth Dance Academy.

“We are widely varied in what we get involved with,” said Dallas. “We do everything from trunk-or-treat at Halloween to active shooter training to programs to aid military veterans.”

Although Redeemer has taken a more active role in the larger community, it still hosts many of the same people who joined the church as they were just starting families and buying homes. 

Kathy Drake has been going to Redeemer United Methodist Church since 1961, when she was 21 years old. She still attends services with her daughter and grandchildren.

“I was coming home from work when I was 21 years old, and I saw this little white church and I just liked that,” she said. “The minister at the time was giving a series of sermons, and he said something nice about another religion, and that really impressed me. It was a nice place to be with nice people.”

Murphy said the church is remaining dedicated to its mission and dedicated to the people it serves, both in and out of the church.

“In 2019, you see a group of people connected to the mission of the church,” said Murphy. “Our mission is to bring people to Christ. People are committed to having a relationship with Jesus Christ, God and the Holy Spirit. People come in here and it feels like family.”

Call Staff Writer Brendan Losinski at (586) 498-1068.

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