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 was born and raised in Minnesota and began her ordained ministry in the UCC serving as Associate Minister at Parkview UCC of White Bear Lake Minnesota in 2001. Over the years she has used her calling to advocate for various justice issues, serving local congregations and working for the Human Rights Campaign. Most recently she served as the minister of St. John’s UCC in Brighton IL for seven years. Brighton is near St. Louis MO in Southern Illinois. While at St. John’s she helped the congregation grow their pack a sack ministry, Become an Open and Affirming (ONA) congregation and started a LGBT-welcoming youth group. Rev. Crelly was called to East Church and began her ministry here in July 2021.
Rev. Crelly seeks to strengthen East Church as a community-based locale for connection and ministry. Her extensive experience in community organizing will help expand the mission of East Church in numerous areas such as – Eco-justice, anti-racism, LGBTQIA rights and inclusion, food-insecurity and helping unhoused families.
Along with the staff she is also working to offer various spiritually enriching opportunities through worship, music, faith formation for all ages and Enneagram groups.
Rev. Crelly’s interests and hobbies include vegetable gardening, culinary arts, conversational German, astronomy, and theater. She is married to Amy Brooks who has three adult children: Sam (deceased), Laura, and Oliver. Amy has been working with congregations for 12 years within the UMC, UCC, and UUA traditions; and has a book of lectionary-based poetry called “Another Scroll” published by The Pilgrim Press in 2021.
Bren Elliot, M.a.
Children and Youth Ministries Director
Director of music & arts
Primary Communities Served
East Grand Rapids