To kick off the celebration of its centennial anniversary, the congregation of East View UCC in Shaker Heights, Ohio, set an ambitious goal, pledging to collect $10,000 in the offering on Sunday, Sept. 30. Together, members met that pledge on Kick Off Sunday, starting a fund for improving the building they've called home.
"Today is about celebration, challenge and possibility," the Rev. Valentino Lassiter said. He's been the church pastor the last 33 years. "It is overwhelming to see the enthusiasm of the congregation, friends and family. Our hope for the next 100 years, is that the church will continue to be the center of the community, to preach and exemplify the gospel, bringing forth the kingdom of God."
Looking toward that next 100 years of ministry, the church established a Centennial Legacy Fund that will be used to build on the current facility and make the church more accessible to all. They're on their way, as Patricia Weeden pointed out, surpassing their initial goal. "Today showed me the awesomeness of God.When man says we can't do this or that (raise $10,000), God comes back around and says, "Yes I can, I am God."
For the celebration, members wore red shirts printed with the church's name, as they prayed and sang their way from the site of East View's first service, in a storeroom at E. 139th Street and Kinsman Road, to its current building on Chagrin Boulevard. The church, which held its first services and was organized in 1912 with 33 members, today has 200-plus congregants.
Fifteen-year old Breanna Cotton said praise dancing got her excited about the celebration. "The service was vibrant and I felt the spirit with all of us," she said. "I hope we can accomplish all of our goals- like remodeling the church and the hope that youth will become more involved with the ministry."
Said Jean Morgan, "I've been member of East over 40 some odd years. To see the growth and spirituality of the church has meant a lot to me. I've buried two sons here. The bible on the Altar is in memory of my eldest son. I hope we can build a larger church, especially for our youth."
In January 1913, members voted to name the congregation East View Congregational, and a year later dedicated a new church. The church moved to its current location in 1927.
As Erma Mitchell said, "God is disappointed when we don't trust Him... It's already done and He proved it today. One hundred years ago the congregation stepped out on faith. We are here today because they trusted God."