History of Redeemer...
1922-2020...98 Years and Going
Back on September 26, 1922 Redeemer Church started its journey with Rev. Weiskotten walking the streets of Downtown Lansing, with plans to organize an all-English speaking Lutheran Congregation.
How did that come about?? He canvassed the East side of downtown Lansing along with the Rev. Alonz R. Garman and soon after that, on August 6, 1922, the first worship service was held in the Y.W.C.A. Parlors, 129 South Capitol Avenue. During that first church service, 8 were present in Sunday school, and 37 were present for the Church service.
Soon after that, due to a high attendance increase, property near Pennsylvania Avenue and Jerome Street was purchased and an old house on the land was remodeled to serve as the congregation’s temporary meeting location.
On February 4, 1923, the first services were held in the building with 37 present. On Palm Sunday, 1923, a class of eight Confirmands were received. Over time, the church continued to grow in its small downtown setting and it experience various turn-over in its leadership guidance due to constant financial challenges.
However, eventually they were able to call a strong leader/Pastor and with this “New Life” and steady growth came the pressing need for a new church building. The temporary building (the house on Jerome) had become a detriment in doing effective work for the Lord, so, an architect was secured and plans were drawn up for a new building. After much planning and hard, visionary work, preliminary estimates and bids were completed and everything was made ready, however due to the financial impact of “the Great Depression," necessary financing could not be achieved and everything was put on hold.
In 1932, a loan of $375.00 was secured from the Michigan Synod and the old building was again remodeled to enlarge the seating capacity. With this change came the 10th Anniversary of the congregation and a great celebration was held and attended by many. Soon after this current remodeling a record attendance was reached on Sunday, April 21, 1935 with: 135 in Sunday school and 146 in Church. As time went on these records continued to steadily climb and various ministries were begun to care for the needs of the surrounding community.
In 1939, due to a constant increase in members, plans were drawn up by Mr. Charles A. Scheuringer, of Philadelphia, PA., for a new building and estimates were received. The bid for the building was given to Mr. A.R. Foster, a Building Contractor. Final services were held in the old building on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1939 with 150 present. At this service, seventeen children and young people were baptized. During the construction period, services were held in the small auditorium of Eastern High School on North Pennsylvania Avenue.
The cornerstone was laid on June 4, 1939, and on August 6, 1939, 17 years to the day of the first service conducted by Pastor Weiskotten at Redeemer Church, the congregation held its first worship service in the basement of the new edifice.
Dedication services were held on Sunday afternoon, September 17th, 1939. There were 360 members and guests present. Now the congregation was ready for their next venture of taking the “Good News” of Jesus Christ out into the surrounding community of downtown Lansing near Pennsylvania/Michigan Ave/Jerome St.
From 1940 through 1958 life was calm and growth was GREAT, so great that Redeemer Church was bursting at the seams again. Yes, they found again they needed more room. It was during this time, 1950-1960’s that the city of Lansing was growing too.
Because of this expansion, the city of Lansing had plans for developing I-496, a by-way through-out the city, so that people could reach the then growing East and West sides of the city quicker and easier. Also, Oldsmobile was planning on building a plant near that new express-way and what was then M-99, and what is now, Martin Luther King Blvd. Due to this growth in our city, many people were displaced and removed from the homes they knew and loved. The city of Lansing offered folk in that area an opportunity to move to the South side of Lansing, and area that was just developing. Many of those folk who were renting were given the chance to buy their 1st home at 0% financing. Yes, that is how “Church hill Downs” came into being near Holmes Rd. and Waverly Rd.
It was with all this growth and change that Redeemer went “Land Shopping on the South side of Lansing.”
It was then that Pastor George A. Bush prepared the congregation for the next decade of the 60's with his acceptance of a call to Redeemer on February 1, 1959. He began work on April 1, 1959 and served faithfully through July 1, 1967. Under his ministry, the congregation purchased land and relocated to the southwest side of Lansing, at 2727 W. Holmes Road.
For two years, Redeemer again worshiped in a public school. This time it was in the Auditorium of Pleasant Grove School at Holmes Road and Pleasant Grove, just one block from their new location. On Thanksgiving Day, 1962, the congregation moved into their new quarters for their first service of worship.
However, after moving to the South side of Lansing, Redeemer found they had to start over, and figure out who they were as a Church in their new community. WHY? #1). Over 60% of their current members lived in downtown Lansing and walked to work, to the grocery store, to school, and yes, to church. And in the early 1960’s Lansing did not have public transportation yet. So, those folk could not travel to the south side of Lansing to come to church. Yes, a lot of Redeemer’s active members became “inactive.” #2). Also, many churches that existed on the property where I-496 & the Oldsmobile Plant went through moved out to the South side too, so there was competition for the believers who lived in our local community on the South side. This made it harder to attract people to an unknown church who had just moved into the neighborhood.
It is because of this instability during 1970-1990 that Redeemer found it more difficult to maintain steady, stable leadership or consistency in her surrounding community. And it is because of this struggle that she lost her ability to grow or share the “Good News” of our Lord as faithfully as she could have or would have liked.
After approximately 20 years of challenging times, many Pastors, and a vacancy in the year 1991, Pastor Jan Hite joined up with Redeemer’s ministry team. The Rev. Dr. Janice Hite, a graduate of Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, and L.S.T.C. in Chicago began her call at Redeemer on September 3, 1991. The Ordination of Pastor Hite was celebrated at University Lutheran Church, East Lansing, on Sunday, August 11, 1991. Pastor Jan brought with her the ability to heal the pains of the past and many needed visions and dreams--that have since come ALIVE!
YES…Since the year 1991 we have developed a Mission that is grounded in our Mission Statement, “Making Christ Known through Our Helping Hands.” Through the empowerment of the “Good News” of Jesus Christ our “Helping Hands” have become active in our community in various ways, ways that have touched and changed the lives of many in our surrounding community forever.
Our “Helping Hands” Have Been Active In Our Community Thru…
Sharing in God through WORD & Sacrament
Various Bible Studies
Helping Hands Christian Learning Center
Taco Dinners, (4 x Year)
Kid’s Night Out/Parent’s Night off
Annual Ice Cream Social
Easter Egg Hunt
Food for Local Food Bank
Trunk or Treat (Halloween)
Thanksgiving Food Baskets
Before & After School Program
Various Educational Events
Kindergarten Readiness Program
Various Emergency Needs
Serving @ “Loaves & Fishes”
God, along with Pastor Jan Hite, various church and community leaders and members of Redeemer continue to lead us into the future and open doors for our next venture that will better the lives of those around us who depend on Redeemer for a safe life--one that keeps them growing spiritually, emotionally and physically. Our current undertakings that promise GROWTH for many are: #1) an “Outdoor Learning Center” that will be used by both “Helping Hands Learning Center” and our Surrounding Community. #2). An addition to our current church which will house a new worship center, fellowship hall, kitchen and office area, with plans to renovate our current site into a complete School for “Helping Hands.”
Currently we find ourselves on a journey with one another and our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. Therefore, our purpose is to reach out into our community and use our “helping hands” so that more can come to know the love of God. We pray that you have been touched by someone’s “helping hands” at Redeemer and that the love of God has moved you to want to be a part of our church/community’s family in some special way.
May you find a way to join us in sharing in a mutual relationship with God through the various activities listed above. And may your “Helping Hands" become more active in caring for others and the world around you.
May God Bless You and Yours Each and Every Day...
-Pastor Jan Hite