East Congregational Church Grand Rapids MI
We seek to find shared beliefs that unite us in covenant and celebrate a wide variety of faith traditions.
United Church of Christ
East Church is a congregation of the United Church of Christ, a denomination that came into being in 1957 by the historic union of the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian Churches. This brought together historic roots of the Pilgrims and the Puritans, Christians seeking freedom of conscience, and German evangelicals. The United Church of Christ still seeks to find shared beliefs that unite us in covenant and celebrates a wide variety of faith traditions.
From the Preamble to the Constitution of the United Church of Christ:
The United Church of Christ acknowledges as it sole head, Jesus Christ, Son of God and Saviour. . .It looks to the Word of God in the Scriptures, and to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, to prosper its creative and redemptive work in the world. . .It affirms the responsibility of the Church in each generation to make this faith its own in reality of worship, in honesty of thought and expression and in purity of heart before God.
As a congregation of the United Church of Christ, East Church joins in covenant with other member congregations to minister in this world. We claim autonomy in the local churches, finding authority in the congregation that honors our historic roots. We value independence in expression of faith and commitment to the prayer of Jesus (John 17:21) that calls us to a spirit of unity.
Find out more about the United Church of Christ at ucc.org
Subscribe to the UCC Daily Devotional at ucc.org/daily_devotional
Michigan Conference UCC michucc.org.
EAST CHURCH IS OPEN AND AFFIRMING
In 2002 this congregation engaged in discussion and study and declared itself to be Open and Affirming. The following is from our Open and Affirming Statement.
We celebrate the diversity of God’s creation and affirm that each person has special worth as a unique creation in God’s image. All are welcome to worship here and to come into relationship with the church’s life and work. We thank God for the blessing, the challenge, and the joy that we experience in both our unity and our diversity.
We acknowledge that, historically, many Christian churches and societies have excluded people for a variety of unjust reasons. Among these are race or ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, economic class, physical or mental abilities.
We affirm that all people are embraced with the family of God.
We affirm that the full fellowship of East Congregational Church (all rights and duties, benefits and responsibilities as defined by our constitution) is open to all who seek a relationship with God through union with this congregation in Christ. We affirm that all members of East Congregational Church are called to share as fully as they are able in the worship, fellowship, and leadership of our congregation.
As we journey together as a community of faith, we are called by God to seek justice for all people. We, therefore, call ourselves to make a continuing effort toward inclusiveness, standing against all forms of discrimination. Therefore, we declare ourselves to be an Open and Affirming congregation.
Each year members of East Church are present at the Grand Rapids Pride Fest bringing this message of inclusion and affirmation to our LGBT sisters and brothers.
Empowering God’s community to grow in faith through worship, service, and learning at every age.
East Church is community-minded
East Church provides shelter for homeless families, staffs a neighborhood food pantry, and runs a community resale shop. More on community service at East Church.
We are located in the Ottawa Hills neighborhood and participate in many nearby community events like the annual Fourth of July Hollyhock Parade and Garden Tour.
We journey together, leading our community of faith with a spirit of unity.
Rev. Laurie Crelly is originally from Golden Valley, Minnesota and has lived most of her life in that state until her more recent years in Illinois. Prior to college Rev. Crelly worked two years as a missionary in Germany and became fluent in German, although this is no longer the case today. Her call to ministry was confirmed through this work and she went on to attend North Central University for her BA in Cross-Cultural Studies and United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities (a UCC affiliated Seminary); where she earned her Master of Divinity. She was ordained as a UCC minister by the Minnesota Conference in 2005, while serving Parkview UCC. Previous ministry work includes Associate Minister at Parkview UCC in White Bear Lake MN, Christian Education and Youth Ministry Coordinator at The Congregational Church of Rochester, MN and serving as Solo Pastor at St. John’s UCC in Brighton IL. She has also been involved in various faith-based community organizing efforts in Minnesota. Rev. Crelly has participated in a variety of training programs to further her education and fuel her passion for the church and social justice work in the church, including: Progressive Christian Youth Leadership Training; New Church Leadership Institute Training; Gamaliel Foundation Community Organizing Training; Anti-racism Training; and Wellstone Action Community Organizing Training, Evangelism, Preaching Camp, ONA Facilitator, and training to become an Enneagram Facilitator. Rev. Crelly has served on various UCC denominational activities over the years. These include Faith Formation Team, the Annual Meeting planning team, and a new church development project. She is currently serving on the Illinois South Conference Committee on Ministry team. Rev. Crelly’s interests and hobbies include vegetable gardening, cooking, conversational German, astronomy, singing in the choir, candle-making, and theater. She is married to Amy Brooks who has three children: Samuel (deceased), Laura (22), and Oliver (20). Amy has been working with congregations for 12 years within the UMC, UCC, and UUA traditions; and has a book of lectionary-based poetry due for release by Pilgrim Press later this year. Laura is currently completing an undergrad degree in Philosophy and, during the pandemic, has been working in Alaska as a live-in nanny. Oliver is a musician and lives in Alton, IL where he and his band, Loftys Comet, are working hard to get established in the Alt Jazz Music scene. The family hopes to go to Australia in 2022 to visit family and take a long-postponed honeymoon.
Bren Elliot, M.a.
Youth Ministries Director
Director of music & arts
Director of christian education for children
Primary Communities Served
East Grand Rapids