Church History

Church History

Although efforts had been made in 1835, 1860 and 1864 to establish a Methodist Society, it was not until 1873 that an official “Certificate of Organization” was issued to the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Grand Haven.

The Grand Haven congregation met in the Old Courthouse until the completion of their own building in 1879. That church was on Columbus Street, on the site of the present-day Library, but it burned down in 1889.

A new brick church was then built in 1890, containing beautiful stained-glass windows and a fine church bell.  As World War I came to an end in 1918, the church had grown greatly during those 28 years, so they sold the church intending to build a new one.  Business conditions were such, however, that the congregation had to meet, for a time, in other churches—Unitarian Church, the Congregational Church, and the Christian Reformed Church school house.  With commitment and persistence, the new church, built on Washington and Fourth Streets, was dedicated on January 28, 1923.

In another 28 years, the congregation had grown enough again to begin discussions about what to do—continue to patch the current church on Washington Street or find some place to build a new one. It was decided by the congregation and its leaders that a brand new church needed to be built.

In 1953, a committee was formed and a building fund was established.  Negotiations with the Hofma Estate trustees eventually resulted in the erection of the Methodist Church of the Dunes, which held its first worship service on February 19, 1961.

Architect Alden Dow of Midland was commissioned to design the most unique church in the Tri-Cities area in a setting unmatched by any other.  He did just that.

The building of the new “Methodist Church of the Dunes in Hofma Hills” on Sheldon Road in Grand Haven was much heralded and big news in 1960 when ground was broken—as evidenced by numerous newspaper stories as the construction continued to its consecration in 1961.

Because the United Methodist Church of the Dunes sits in the midst of a Lake Michigan dune—with an edifice designed by the world-renowned architect Alden Dow— the church offers a unique setting to worshippers.

The large windows on two sides of the Sanctuary literally bring the “outside, in” and worship is enhanced with the changing of the seasons, the many flowering trees and plants growing, plus the wildlife walking the grounds outside.