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 in the Minnesota Conference in 2001. Over the years Rev. Crelly’s call to ministry has included advocating for various justice issues, serving local congregations and overseeing faith formation ministries for all ages. Most recently she served as the minister of St. John’s UCC in Brighton IL for seven years. Rev. Crelly was called to East Church and began her ministry at East Church in July 2021.
Rev. Crelly’s interests and hobbies include vegetable gardening, culinary arts, Sci-Fi shows especially Doctor Who, astronomy, and theater. She is married to Amy Brooks who has three adult children: Sam (deceased), Laura, and Oliver. Amy has been working as a licensed minister for over 10 years within the UMC, UCC, and UUA traditions. She has been “approved for ordination pending a call” and is seeking a ministry setting. Amy is a published poet and has a book of lectionary-based poetry called “Another Scroll” published by The Pilgrim Press in 2021 and is working on a second book.
Bren Elliot, M.a.
Children and Youth Ministries Director
Bren has been working with East’s youth as youth ministry director for eight plus years and has recently added Christian Education director to her list. Her passion is to introduce children as well as adults to the power of Christ! Children have such an honest energy about them, and they bring the most wonderful perspective to life. Bren also has a private therapy practice on site at East Church.
Stop by and say “Hi!”
Director of music & arts
At the age of 11, with his toes barely able to touch the pedals of the organ, Jameson Thompson played his first service, launching him into his career as an organist. During his middle- and high-school years, he played concerts at over 15 churches and venues in Northern Michigan. After high school, he moved to Grand Rapids where he studied Pipe Organ Performance at Calvin University. Best known for his flair for bridging the divide between music styles, Jameson enjoys arranging music that combines traditional hymn melodies with contemporary harmonization and textures, as well as performing 19th Century French Organ Music.
Social Media/ Office Assistant
Sally has been involved with online sales and promotions for many years. She enjoys capturing pictures to use for online content.
She has experience in varied office settings from Editorial rooms to Medical Scheduling. She enjoys golf in the summer, painting and crafting in the winter, and always enjoys playing with her dogs and trips to the U.P.!
Curtis is the longest-serving employee at East Church. He has assisted members and guests ensuring that their needs are met in a professional and timely manner. He works hard as he maintains the grounds and looks after all the building needs with the help of the church’s men’s club. He enjoys his ability to serve the church in a multitude of ways! In his off time, Curtis enjoys working out at the gym and golfing.
Petra has a strong office management and executive assistant background. Her most recent position was at Spectrum Health supporting the president of the Spectrum Health Medical Group. Her son and family reside in Florida, and her daughter and family reside in East Grand Rapids. She has five grandchildren.
Taylor is an East Church child. Her grandmother has been a member of East for many years and Taylor has been coming with her for a long time. She loved her time in (ECYG) East Church Youth Group, and the connections she has made with the other “youthies” are still going strong. She is excited to be able to continue at East in a serving role as she works with our youngest children.
Dez has a B.A in Theatre with a passion for theatrical make-up design, video production, and backstage crew. When she’s not at the theatre she loves to face paint at events and parties.
Selene has been involved in the audio world since she first fell in love with it during college in 2010. Since then, she has done too many shows to count at many of the theatres around Grand Rapids. She is excited to share her knowledge of audio and to expand her interest to include video here with her church.
Michael Sali is a graduate of Aquinas College holding a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Technical Theatre and a graduate of the Vancouver Institute of Media Arts holding a degree in Animation. Michael has worked in theatre around the nation working as a lighting designer and technical theatre artist.
Primary Communities Served
East Grand Rapids