North Lake UMC celebrates 187 years of mission

by Diane Tandy

The year before Michigan became a state, North Lake United Methodist Church in Chelsea was organized. In the years that followed, through the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the turbulent ’60s, the COVID pandemic and the present day, North Lake UMC continued to keep its mission alive.

The “little country church” strives to meet the needs of a growing community. It provides caring, family-centered fellowship with something for people of all ages.

“When I think of this church, I feel it’s much like a home,” longtime member Nina McDaniels said back in 1991. “The building is made of sticks and stones, but the church is its people, their concerns for each other, prayers, and labors of love in times of need, faith that we can go ahead.

“Faith is what brings about change; there have been many changes in my lifetime,” McDaniels continued.

Many of the church’s members can share memories from their youth at North Lake, along with church stories passed down through the generations of their families.

The church started in 1836, when a Methodist class of 12 members was organized at North Lake. Charles Glenn was a leader of the class for 40 years until his death in 1876. The marble stone marking his grave in the North Lake Cemetery reads, “He rests from his labors and his works do follow him.”

One of Glenn’s great-grandsons, Harvey Pearce, was a prominent minister in the Detroit Conference.  He never became a regular minister at North Lake, though he filled in on numerous occasions by preaching the Sunday morning services.

After his retirement in 1947, Pearce spent summers at the family homestead called Glenhaven. During these times, he taught the adult Bible class on Sunday mornings. He also brought not only a lifetime of religious study to the class, but his physical and geographical points of interest of the Holy Land, resulting from his travels.

January 1866 was a milestone 30th year, as with the Civil War behind them, the North Lake Methodists decided to build a new church building. It was completed by the end of the year for a total of $2,646.  At that time, there were 57 members, four from the original class.

Records from the early years show the purchase of two gallons of kerosene oil to heat the church for $1. Also, the janitor was paid $4 for caring for the church for six months.

After many restorations and upgrades throughout the years, the North Lake United Methodist Church building of 1866 still stands today as a beacon of faith and light to all traveling on North Territorial Road. And inside, its members gather to carry on North Lake’s long tradition
of faith, caring and fellowship.

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